2010 Salary Survey Results

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Make the case! EH boosts bottom line in hard times

Tight budgets mean no raises for EHPs

Cost-cutting at hospitals has hit deep into the personal budgets of employee health professionals, as about one-third (32%) reported receiving no raise in 2010 in the Hospital Employee Health salary survey. Another 4% reported taking a cut in pay.

The factors driving the cost-cutting at hospitals are here to stay: Mergers and consolidations of hospitals and health care services, a continued movement of services from inpatient to outpatient, the specter of reduced reimbursements.

The key challenge for employee health professionals is to show that they are part of the solution rather than the problem.

"To the degree to which employee health...[is viewed as] an expense, then there is going to be a desire to really shrink it down to the most efficient model, using the least amount of resources," says Charlene M. Gliniecki, RN, MS, vice president, human resources, at El Camino Hospital in Mountainview, CA, and a former employee health nurse. "If we can communicate and demonstrate our ability to reduce expenses through the work we do — that we are saving costs — we will be sought after as an important part of an efficient organization."

Fortunately, employee health has many opportunities to show an impact on the hospital's bottom line. Reducing injuries and helping employees return to work more quickly after an absence provides a direct benefit. For example, a transitional work program at El Camino Hospital helped bring employees back on the job more swiftly after injuries. The hospital, which was self-insured for workers' compensation, was able to reduce its reserves by $7 million.

Gliniecki let managers know that they had been important partners in accommodating returning workers. But she also touted the human resources/employee health success. "I definitely talked it up among my colleagues," she says, noting, "When something bad happens you always get attention. When something positive happens, make sure that gets noticed."

Here's another piece of evidence that employee health has a link to the bottom line: Xavier University in Cincinnati is offering a course on "the Business Value of Safety and Health" in its MBA program. The goal "is to put safety and health in the same terms for managers as they look at quality and productivity," says Steve Wurzelbacher, PhD, CPE, a research industrial hygienist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Cincinnati, who helped develop the program.

Employee health is an important part of risk management, Wurzelbacher says, as well as a way to reduce costs associated with absenteeism, turnover, and "presenteeism," or people who are not fully functioning because of illness or low morale.

It is up to employee health professionals to demonstrate how they contribute to the company's productivity, says MaryAnn Gruden, MSN, CRNP, NP-C, COHN-S/CM, employee health coordinator at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh and community liaison of the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP).

"There are some organizations that clearly understand that, and their goals and objectives include employee safety as a top priority," says Gruden. But employee health needs to track trends and share information on injuries to raise awareness.

Employee health professionals have broad experience in health care, which helps them build partnerships within the organization. In the HEH survey, 78% of 150 respondents said they have worked in health care for 25 or more years. About one in four (23.5%) said they received a salary of $60,000 to $69,999.

Demands remain great

Although many hospitals have resorted to lay-offs to "right-size" their staffing, the demands on employee health remain just as great. Here is some advice from employee health experts:

Collaborate: Employee health and infection prevention are often seen as interrelated areas. That is certainly true for tuberculosis screening or immunizations or other infection hazards. But employee health professionals also will find synergy with the organization's safety officer, suggests Gliniecki. For example, the Joint Commission's Environment of Care standard requires a safety plan that covers the control of hazardous chemicals and a bloodborne pathogen exposure control plan.

If you have purchased new lift equipment and need help demonstrating the cost savings associated with the reduction in injuries, you might want to seek the advice of someone in the finance department. They might have a template they use to demonstrate return on investment, she says.

If a wellness program is coordinated by another department or by an outside vendor, you may still be able to provide support for specific programs, help educate employees, and even identify employees who could benefit, says Gruden.

Think lean: In tough economic times, lean is in. "You're essentially trying to eliminate waste in the process and make it more efficient," says Wurzelbacher. But that doesn't mean just doing the same thing faster, he says. It means using quality improvement methods to streamline or redesign how a task is done, he says.

"Develop ways to improve the process that builds value and increases productivity," he advises.

In fact, with health care reform, hospitals will be trying to contain costs wherever possible. "They are trying to look for ways to be most cost-effective yet provide the best patient care," says Gruden. "That will be the challenge."

Broaden your scope: Your greatest value goes far beyond giving immunizations and tuberculosis screening. It likes in your ability to analyze a problem area and seek cost-effective solutions. For example, some years ago El Camino Hospital began working to reduce patient handling injuries by gathering detailed information on the injuries that occurred. The assessments gave clues as to which types of equipment could have prevented the injuries — lateral transfer devices or ceiling lifts or sit-to-stand devices. The purchase of equipment was tailored to address the hospital's greatest needs.

Regulatory requirements will continue to drive employee health — especially as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers new rules governing recordkeeping, injury prevention programs, and infectious disease exposures. But employee health may assist in other areas, as well, such as assessing employees who return to work after Family and Medical Leave Act absences, Gliniecki says.

Present your data: Your employee health and safety reports should mirror the reporting style of your organization, says Gliniecki. Does your hospital use a "dashboard" that compares goals and results? Then you should have a dashboard, too.

Be aware of the strategic plan of your organization — and communicate how employee health is helping meet those goals, she advises. Give presentations on employee health trends, goals and accomplishments at leadership meetings. If there is a regular safety report that is submitted to the board at quarterly meetings, make sure employee health is a part of that, too, Gliniecki says.

HEH 1 salary chart.pdf

2010 Salary Survey / Supplement to Hospital Employee health®

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HEH 2 salary chart.pdf

2010 Salary Survey / Supplement to Hospital Employee health®

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HEH 6 salary chart.pdf

2010 Salary Survey / Supplement to Hospital Employee health®

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2010 Salary Survey / Supplement to Hospital Employee health®

HEH 7 salary chart.pdf
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