performance management for healthcareWhen healthcare administrators ask themselves what they can do to improve patient care and outcomes, they often fall back on investing in cutting-edge equipment, new medicines, and innovative treatments. And, while it’s true that these elements all factor into the quality of care a patient receives, the arguably most important piece of the puzzle is missing: performance management.

Your talent is your healthcare organization’s single most important asset. If your people succeed, the organization succeeds, and when the organization succeeds it’s because patients are receiving greater quality care and outcomes. However, if you’re not actively managing your workforce’s performance, you risk fostering an atmosphere of disengagement where patient needs get overlooked.

Consider this: If your healthcare organization were a patient, then your talent would be the patient’s blood. And while blood is absolutely essential, it simply isn’t enough for survival. Rather, you need a heart to pump it through the body, ensuring oxygenation and the delivery of blood to essential organs. If the patient eats right, exercises, and is generally mindful of his overall health, the heart will grow stronger, as will the patient. If he ignores his health, however, the heart will naturally weaken resulting in potentially catastrophic circumstances.

The same goes for your talent.

According to a study of nearly 1,200 hospitals in seven countries, conducted by McKinsey in collaboration with Harvard University, Stanford University, and the London School of Economics, hospitals that scored well in one aspect of management practice, like talent management, also scored well in other areas, including operational management and target setting.

Hospitals that focus on performance management are often better at management in general, and when organizations have better management, they typically have better patient outcomes.

The State of Performance Management in Healthcare Today

Despite the relationship between effective performance management and patient outcomes, there’s still a growing body of evidence that suggests healthcare organizations aren’t doing enough when it comes to performance management. Just consider these numbers:

Healthcare organizations are struggling to retain their workforces, and the people they do retain are often disengaged. Employee engagement can have a huge impact on the quality of care being administered, with engaged employees displaying a genuinely caring attitude towards patients 85 percent of the time, while their counterparts only showed genuine care 38 percent of the time.

This disengagement, of course, breeds poor quality of care — directly impacting hospitals’ HCAHPS results and causing them to leave, potentially, hundreds of thousands of reimbursement dollars on the table.

Where to Get Started with Your Performance Management

Once you’ve understood the importance of performance management, it’s easy to want to jump right in. So where should you start?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that performance management is not any one thing. Rather, it’s a holistic approach to the way in which you manage your workforce. It requires that managers create clear and achievable goals for their employees, and it means having a system in place to continuously manage progress, and to provide coaching where needed.

Coaching itself, as just a subsection of performance management, involves consistent employee feedback, recognition, and, when appropriate, performance assessments.

Clearly, absent performance management software, there’s a lot here for healthcare organizations to consider. The best place to get started is often with a baseline. By auditing current efforts, an organization can understand:

  • How and what kinds of goals managers are creating for their teams
  • How feedback is delivered and received
  • How, if any, coaching is being administered
  • How often reviews are taking place

From there, leadership will have an opportunity to develop a plan that can be measured and improved upon.

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more about how leading healthcare organizations are focusing on performance management to provide better quality care and patient outcomes.

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About Salvatore Trifilio

Salvatore Trifilio is a content marketer and former journalist who has written extensively on talent management and technology. Recently, Sal has focused almost exclusively on topics around recruitment marketing, talent acquisition, and employer branding for a wide range of industries and verticals. When he isn’t hammering away at his keyboard, Sal enjoys brewing beer and watching baseball.