Earlier this month, we launched the HR & Nursing Excellence Survey to determine how talent management best practices can support nursing success. I encourage you to take our quick 10-question survey and enter to win a free conference pass to the event of your choice (worth up to 2,000 dollars). One of the best conferences I attended in 2013 was the Planetree Annual Conference. Here’s an excerpt from our eBooklet, The Quest for Person-Centered Care: 3 Ways HR Processes Support Planetree Designation, where we explored how healthcare organizations define a person-centered culture and how to hire and retain employees who exemplify those values. 

With performance feedback, healthcare organizations can praise employees in real-time for patient-centered behaviors and identify opportunities for improvement. It’s common for designated hospitals to incorporate Planetree principles into employee evaluations. “Fauquier’s core values inform employees about what is important and how to embodyPlanetree principles in their work. Core values are part of every evaluation, so everyone is held to the same standards and expectations,” said Laura Welsh, Director of HR and Staff Development at Fauquier Health.

Other ways that Planetree Designated organizations reinforce the importance of person-centered care include:

  • Self-evaluations and peer reviews. As part of the performance management process, employees may be asked to complete a self-assessment. Many organizations also require that staff ask a peer to review their performance. The goal of these evaluations is to identify employees’ strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Real-time feedback. Kadlec Medical Center is evolving from an annual performance evaluation model to real-time feedback. “We recently started a pilot where managers focus on teaching moments and use those to coach employees on their performance. The goal is to transform managers into teachers who will help employees become the best they can be,” said Kristin Fox, Director of Human Resources. The pilot has improved the relationship between managers and employees. Each quarter, managers meet with HR and reflect on the interactions they’ve had with each employee.

To ensure person-centered performance initiatives are achieved, healthcare organizations should consider implementing a performance management system. The accessibility of a centralized online performance management system encourages more real time employee and leadership feedback and allows managers to align employee goals to person-centered care initiatives and track those goals electronically throughout the year so that they can be evaluated during the performance appraisal process. Performance management systems also make it more feasible for employees to complete self-assessments and peer reviews, and provides electronic forms that are easy to use and route to supervisors.

A central tenet of Planetree organizations is continuous process improvement. To engage employees in this process, organizations strive to provide opportunities for ongoing learning. Here are three examples of how person-centered care is reinforced through learning activities:

Employee Huddles 

At Fauquier Health, each day every unit has a huddle (in the ER, they are called cuddles) for ten to fifteen minutes. “Each meeting has a topic of the day which often focuses on the patient experience. At the end of the huddle, employees are asked to think about how they can apply the day’s topic to their work,” said Lisa Spitzer, Planetree Program Manager, Planetree.


For the first 90 days, employees at Shore Medical Center have a preceptor who works with them on skills and behaviors. Preceptors are trained through workshops to promote positive behaviors and to deal with negative behaviors. Shore Medical Center also tracks employee learning through a learning management and competency management system, making it easier to report deliver learning content and track employee completions.

Planetree Committees

Both North Westchester Hospital Center and Shore Medical Center have Planetree Committees that enable employees to focus on how to promote different components of the Planetree model within the organization.

In addition to continuous learning, Planetree organizations use a variety of programs to recognize employees for engaging in person-centered care.

  • Peer-to-Peer Recognition. Many Planetree hospitals have programs that enable employees to recognize their peers for providing patient-centered care. This is often done through recognition cards. North Westchester Hospital Center uses “Pay It Forward” cards. These cards entitle recipients to a free coffee or treat, but they also include a second card that the recipient can use to recognize one of their peers for outstanding patient-centered work. At Fauquier Health, after an employee receives a certain number of Planetree recognition cards, he or she can bring them to HR and trade them in for a gift card. Besides recognition cards, employees at Kadlec Medical Center nominate their peers for the Planetree Caregiver Award and Physician Award. Nominees attend the national Planetree conference.
  • Patient Recognition. Several organizations have formal programs where patients can recognize employees for outstanding care. With Fauquier Health’s “Grateful Patient” program, caregivers are given a pin to acknowledge positive patient feedback.
  • Leadership Recognition. At Shore Medical Center, the leadership team makes rounds and gathers patient input. This is conveyed back to employees through feedback cards or in person.

Employee training and development programs such as Shore Medical Centers 90-Day Preceptor Program support Planetree Designation by delegating a preceptor to all new hires to provide feedback and reinforce positive behaviors–encouraging nursing excellence from the start.

Download our eBooklet, The Quest for Person-Centered Care: 3 Ways HR Processes Support Planetree Designation to learn more.




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.