Employee satisfaction is critical when it comes to increasing patient satisfaction and boosting HCAHPS scores. Happy employees equal happy patients. But how can healthcare HR professionals ensure their organization hires employees who will be more likely to make patients happy? HealthcareSource recently published a white paper on how hiring practices can impact HCAHPS scores and to share the recruitment-oriented results from our 2012 HCAHPS Readiness Survey. 

Hiring the Right CandidateAccording to the white paper, how an organization assesses candidates during the interview and hiring process has a huge impact on the quality of their hires and patient satisfaction scores. Even reference checking can affect HCAHPS scores. 40% of survey respondents said their reference checking process has no impact on HCAHPS because the responses are either superficial or limited to dates of employment. Most recruiters and HR professionals dislike the reference checking phase of the hiring process because it’s a hassle. Often HR professionals check references in order to “check the box” rather than using it as a way to get helpful information. A dragged out game of phone tag and responses that are usually overly positive are a waste of time. However, thanks to technology and behavioral science, it’s possible to implement a reference checking process that is more in-depth and assesses candidates on their commitment to patient satisfaction.  

“Reference checks can help improve HCAHPS scores, but organizations have to be willing to reimagine what a reference check could be,” said Dr. Frederick Morgeson, Professor of Management and Valade Research Scholar at the Eli Broad School of Business at Michigan State University.  

For example, your nursing candidate may be perfectly capable of communicating with a patient during discharge. But he might not be willing to go the extra mile by explaining the patient’s medication and post-operative care in a friendly manner. For your healthcare organization to succeed, you need to hire a “natural job fit.” The goal is to have employees that are inclined to provide patient-focused care — not those who need to be taught to act this way. In order to figure out if your potential employee will behave this way, you need to ask their references behavioral-based questions that relate to HCAHPS measures. “Research has shown that when other people report on an individual’s behavioral competencies, the information is predictive of job success,” said Morgeson. HR and hiring managers should determine what qualities matter most when it comes to service excellence at their healthcare organization and use an online reference assessment solution to ask questions that focus on those qualities.

In addition, service-excellence qualities such as compassion, valuing diversity, flexibility, adaptability, customer-focus, motivation and accountability should be written into job descriptions to ensure that candidates know what’s expected of them to be considered successful in the role before they even make it to the reference checking process. “Hiring is a two-way street, and job descriptions are very important for giving directions to get where we want to go on that street,” said Susan Grady, owner of SM Grady Strategic Human Resources. Before a candidate is hired, they must also come to understand that their actions directly affect the success of the hospital. Including your healthcare organization’s larger goals to increase patient satisfaction on the job description is a good place to start. 

Applicant tracking software can help the process of creating job descriptions and will auto-post to online job-boards. Through utilizing an applicant tracking system, hospitals will save time by automating their administrative duties and will be able to put more effort into incorporating HCAHPS into other aspects of the recruitment process.

By publicizing HCAHPS competencies and enforcing the hospital’s commitment to high HCAHPS scores throughout the hiring process, the applicants you do hire will be more likely to demonstrate behaviors that increase patient satisfaction levels to improve HCAHPS scores.  

Download our white paper Four Recruiting Best Practices that Increase HCAHPS Scores to learn how your recruitment efforts can positively impact HCAHPS scores. 

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.