Top 5 Takeaways from the 2017 ASHHRA Conference

Top 5 Takeaways from the 2017 ASHHRA Conference
Marketing Director

The 2017 American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) Conference took place this past week in the Emerald City of Seattle, Washington. This year’s theme was “Partnering Across the Continuum of Care: The Changing Role of Healthcare Human Resources.” The theme emphasizes the importance of increased collaboration between HR and other partners in the healthcare environment as the industry graduates from operating in silos. It is clear that HR professionals play a key role in connecting the healthcare workforce. “Each time we onboard a new group of employees, engage in a meaningful conversation, we create a connection culture,” Gary Pastore, 2017 ASHHRA Board President, stated during the opening ceremony on Sunday.

The following represent my top five takeaways from the 2017 ASHHRA Conference. I hope you find them both inspiring and insightful as you look ahead to the coming year.

1. Maysoon Zayid’s Lesson for Unlocking the Potential of Disabilities

This year’s opening keynote speaker was Maysoon Zayid, an actress, comedian, disability advocate and writer. Even if you were unable to hear her at ASHHRA, you can still watch her powerful TED Talk on YouTube, which was the number one TED Talk of 2014. As someone that was taught to dream big, her story is both inspiring and a testament to the untapped potential in disability employment.

“People with disabilities have the same potential as the non-disabled, and statistics show they do even better,” Zayid stated during her keynote presentation. “But we can’t do it unless HR helps kick the door open for us. There’s a perception that accommodating disabilities is expensive, but it’s not. What we need is simply acceptance.”

Zayid is not alone in advocating for diversity in employment. A recent article published in the May-June 2017 issue of the Harvard Business Review highlights the competitive advantage of a neurodiverse workforce: Neurodiversity offers “access to more of [employees’] talents along with diverse perspectives that may help [companies] compete more effectively.”

2. Optimizing the Recruitment of Employed Physicians and Clinical Practice

One of my favorite learning sessions from this year’s conference was titled “HR Keys to Reducing the Time Between Recruitment of Employed Physicians and Clinical Practice,” presented by Hugh Greeley, Principal with HG Healthcare Consultants. With the healthcare environment now one where most physicians are employed, HR has significant opportunities for streamlining the recruitment of employed physicians. Here are a few considerations, based on Greeley’s presentation.

  • Standardize Background Checks: While most hospitals conduct background checks, HR should work with medical staff services to standardize the screenings for physicians. “We have 7,000 physicians roaming around that have criminal backgrounds and tens of thousands that have licensure problems,” Greeley explains. “If it’s knowable and you the hospital did not know it, you could be found liable.”
  • Consolidate Applications: Physicians more often than not have to complete multiple applications asking for the same type of information, which leads to significant internal duplication. “You can now find combined employment and appointment applications,” Greeley says. Additionally, the managed care application is one organizations should focus on optimizing.
  • Share Information Internally: Some internal duplication can be avoided if HR and medical staff services departments begin to share more information. “There is very little that cannot be shared easily between relevant business units,” Greeley explains. “One institution under one license can share background checks as long as the person who wrote the reference knows that it will be used for both purposes.”

Finally, Greeley invited attendees to plan for a better future by beginning with the end in mind: “We have to serve patients. We have to sure physicians and nurse PAs in the future better,” he says. “We need some new procedures and expedited systems.”

3. Cy Wakeman’s Advice for Becoming a Better Leader

We recently interviewed New York Times best selling author and drama researcher, Cy Wakeman, for an PreCheck Blog article ahead of her ASHHRA keynote in Seattle. “What would great look like@f1”, she asked attendees during her Monday morning keynote. This question moves people out of judgment and critique towards self-reflection as they consider what their impact could be despite somewhat less than perfect circumstances.

As leaders, Wakeman invites healthcare HR professionals to conserve the considerable amount of drama and energy in the workplace. “Getting people into a state of accountability quickly in the hallway leaders to their own happiness and their own engagement,” she says. “HR could help deliver 2.5 hours back to the organization per day per headcount. If we eliminate just half of the drama, they would be able to have zero open nursing positions.”

Her solution lies in eliminating emotional waste with good mental processes. “Great leaders move energy from why we can’t to how we could,” Wakeman explained. “We need to focus on teamwork. Teamwork means stop judging, start helping. If you are not feeling part of the team, it is because you have stepped out and went to judge.”

4. Fostering Collaboration Between HR and Medical Staff Services

With the prevalence of physician employment, one group HR should focus on fostering partnership is medical staff services. Presenters Eric Stastny, Vice President of Operations and CHRO with Emerson Hospital, and Michael Bertoncini, Shareholder at Jackson Lewis, led an enlightening session on this topic. The following are a few highlights from their session.

  • Focus on Risk Management: The easiest way to bring more collaboration internally is to position the effort as a risk management initiative that is going to save your organization a lot of money and foster a more collaborative and workable environment. “You want to create an interdisciplinary collaboration,” Bertoncini says. “You want to make sure that the hospital policies and the medical staff bylaws are beginning to align.”
  • Implement an Ad-Hoc Committee: Experts suggest creating this type of committee for handling physician issues when they arise. “Having the folks from quality and patient safety makes it much easier to deal and decide if it is a medical staff issue or an HR issue,” Bertoncini says. Additionally, he recommends including independent physicians and office-based practitioners on the committee.
  • Document Decisions: Make sure to document every decision made. “Just like any HR process, there’s no recipe to say what action you should take,” Stastny says. “The worst thing you can do is not take any action.”

If you are unsure about how to begin collaborating with your medical staff, one of the session’s participants who is also among our top healthcare HR influencers to follow on Twitter, has some advice. “The most important ingredient is that your commitment is to [physicians’] career success and to the organization’s success,” Dawn Rose, Director of Planning & Human Capital with Northwestern Medicine, shared with participants. “They can listen to you generously and hear what you’re saying to get them on the right track. If they feel it’s adversarial, they don’t think that you get what it is to be in their shoes. Have them understand that you are their advocate.”

5. Putting HR Analytics Into Actionable Practice

During her learning session, Shebani Patel, Principal with PwC in the People Analytics Practice, discussed the significance of benchmarking in healthcare HR. Benchmarking serves as a foundational input into analytics programs, and continues to inform the process and strategy as organizations mature into more advanced stages of analytics. Successful organizations, however, can translate insights from metrics into meaningful actions.

During the presentation, Patel shared some of the highlights from 2017 ASHHRA/PwC HR Metrics Tool survey, which represents data from 126 organizations, including hospitals, healthcare systems, and clinics. “Hospitals and healthcare organizations are not faring as well as other industries to retain employees in today’s environment,” Patel explained. First year of service turnover, for example, has increased to nearly 30 percent for healthcare organizations, according to the latest data.

But how can healthcare HR put metrics such as the aforementioned one into action@f2 Patel suggests a two-step process:

  1. Dive into the Metric: In the example of a high turnover rate, focus your efforts to understanding quality of hire by evaluating or developing a quality of hire predictive model.

  2. Take Action: Following the same example, put what you learned into practice. Drive your hiring and selection decisions using characteristics of successful employees.

This is just one example of how HR can derive strategic actions from analytics. By understanding the issues behind the metrics and putting insights into practice, healthcare HR can be more strategic in transforming their workforce and achieving better outcomes.

Did you attend this year’s ASHHRA conference@f3 What were your favorite highlights and takeaways from the conference@f4 We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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