AHRA 2017 Preview: Patient-centered care starts with your employees

Employee engagement and patient experience are often regarded as separate courses in the hospital administration curriculum, but they are closely connected. The pathway to exceptional patient care begins with the employees, according to Michael Janis, MBA, Executive Director of Outpatient & Ancillary Services at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham, Illinois.

Janis is presenting on his experiences managing human resources at the Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) 45th Annual Meeting and Exposition, held July 9-12 in Anaheim, California.

Radiology Business: How are employee engagement and patient experience connected in a radiology environment?

Michael Janis, MBA: As a radiology manager you have to do the due diligence to make sure you have the right group. It’s a very competitive landscape and you have to have the best staff to make sure you compete in the future.

We linked the patient experience to our core values of care, joy, respect, and competence. That was a really big paradigm shift for us—we stopped focusing on just meeting expectations to get a result on a survey. Instead of saying “We want to be in the 96th percentile,” we shifted to “How would we want to be treated based on the values set forth in the organization.”

Our CEO individually met with all 915 employees and everyone signed off on those expectations—it raised the bar for our organization. They’re talking about how excited they are to work, a lot of times its those little things we do as leaders that can make somebody want to work for you. Our radiology department doesn’t pay as well as the hospital 30 minutes away, but we’ve got a waiting list of people that want to come to our organization.

How do you measure success in employee engagement?

It’s a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures. We meet with individual colleagues and talk about our expectations for them and what they expect from us. It’s not waiting for a survey or these lagging indicators and looking for a change, we’re constantly in the department seeing how we can help them.

Can you give an example of a change stemming directly from employee testimony?

One example we found is we were very good at washing our hands but we weren’t telling patients. We wouldn’t say, “Hey, for your safety I’m going to step out for a second and wash my hands.” In addition, older patients didn’t equate the foam with hand washing and we had to walk through that. That’s where real change happens, it’s not waiting for the results of a survey. It’s the constant communication between me as an administrator, my radiology manager, those midlevel facilitators and the staff.

It’s not just the staff talking up the chain of command, they know me and they’re comfortable with me, that’s where we’ve seen lasting impact.

What are some of the best practices for employee engagement?

We round with our employees, regardless of the level of leadership. We also send handwritten thank you notes. Even if I don’t see it personally, department leaders will let me know who to write a note to. We send it to their home because nobody gets good mail at home, it’s all bills. They usually read something like, “Kim told me you helped cover a second shift for somebody and I want you to know that’s important to us and we really appreciate it.”

It makes a big difference to understand they are part of a team. We want to be here another 104 years, that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a matter of everybody having ownership, having everybody know their work and what they are a part of.

We’ve got a lot of work do to do but we’ve seen a substantial change from where we started.