What Healthcare HR Can Learn from Other Industries

Marketing Director

Health Care HR Week may seem like an odd time to look at HR practices in other industries. After all, healthcare HR has unique challenges that other industries don’t have. However, best HR practices can provide inspiration for healthcare HR leaders, especially as they look for ways to optimize value-based care.

“The healthcare industry is becoming more business-minded while still keeping the patient at its core,” says Mike Todd, a Senior Business Consultant at Talent Plus, and looking at other businesses will help healthcare HR leaders find that balance.

Here’s what healthcare HR can learn from other industries.

How to Improve Customer Service

The transition to value-based care makes customer service vital for healthcare organizations. The transition is a slow one, however: A 2016 survey from Deloitte found that more than 90 percent of healthcare executives said they were on the path to value-based care, but only 27 percent said they had completed pilots. Because payments depend not just on whether someone was treated but how they felt they were treated, it’s vital that healthcare HR understand hiring and training for customer service.

“In order to adapt to the rise of consumerism in healthcare, HR should look to borrow practices from the hospitality industry,” says Nathanael Sinclair, HR/Lean Consultant with Lean Support Solutions. This includes tactics like the “10-foot rule,” which means making eye contact, smiling and greeting a patient, by name if possible, when the employee comes within 10 feet, he says.

How to Be More Flexible

Healthcare employers are already well-versed in using flexible work to attract and retain candidates. But flexibility goes beyond shift schedules, says HR Consultant Cristina Lara. “As consumerism continues to rise in healthcare, the problem we ought to be addressing is how do we put doctors and nurses in communities where accessibility is difficult?” she says. Other important questions include how the industry can make healthcare more accessible through technology and what HR professionals can do to hire those technologists required to disrupt healthcare.

Answers lie in the tech industry, Lara says, where “flexibility” can apply to an employee’s role, career path, team and goals. Cross-training, continuing education and multidisciplinary teams, combined with the flexible schedules more healthcare organizations are offering, can provide enrichment in any employee’s career. “When your employees are happy, and when your workplace is welcoming and understanding, you'll find that your employees will work harder,” Lara says.

The Importance of Values and Mission

Healthcare organizations often have a clear mission and values that describe a level or approach to patient care that sets a standard for people’s work. But healthcare HR can do more to align mission and values with their talent strategy and find like-minded people while boosting engagement among employees.

Tech companies in particular are good at aligning mission with talent management. “Right now tech is a hot spot for folks coming in from college because tech HR is making strides in making sure the workplace feels value-driven, innovative and inclusive,” Lara says.

Look for ways to highlight your mission and values in job ads and screen for those values when assessing candidates. The result? Employees who are a better fit for your organization and often have higher engagement.

The Power of a Money-Back Guarantee

Setting high standards and empowering employees to “make things right” similar to the way Starbucks or Ritz-Carlton hotels do can help keep patients satisfied, Todd says. But a refund can go even further. A staple in retail, refunds can help hold your organization to those higher standards while keeping patients, who are also your customers, happy. And they can hold your organization to a higher hiring standard, Todd says, as you screen and interview for people who can deliver on the brand promise.

In 2015, Geisinger Health System CEO David Feinberg established the Geisinger Proven Experience, which gives unsatisfied patients the opportunity to request a sliding-scale refund based on the service provided, Todd says. It’s a radical idea, and the organization found that after a year, it returned more than $400,000 while using patient feedback to improve its service.

Healthcare is a unique industry, with issues not seen in others. However, other industries can often provide good ideas for any healthcare organization that wants to improve the service delivered to its customers, the patients it serves every day.

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