Erika Gaudreau, RN, MBA, senior director of patient access at Boston Medical Center, finds that patient satisfaction scores tend to mirror employee satisfaction.
“If our patients’ experience isn’t all it can be, we know we have to examine staff effectiveness issues,” she says.
Patient access leaders take these steps to keep employees happy:
• They actively solicit feedback from staff, and they follow up on all concerns.
Senior managers would attend staff meetings occasionally to give everyone a chance to voice concerns. Registrars tended to clam up when higher-ups appeared, however. “We no longer intentionally solicit employee feedback in large groups,” says Gaudreau.
Instead, patient access leaders schedule time to check in, say hello, and ask questions. With more than 150 employees in the department, this step sometimes is difficult. “However, it is their measure of how much we care about their job satisfaction,” says Gaudreau. “We get a lot of good information in these one-on-one sessions.”
One manager complained that there wasn’t enough room in her email inbox. “We called IT and got more capacity in the inbox,” says Gaudreau.
Some fixes are easier than others. “We’ve done everything from placing tissues in waiting rooms for patients, to bringing computer screens down so patients can see our faces better,” says Gaudreau.
Recently, a small group of registrars reported being treated rudely by staff in another department. “We reached out to the department leaders and addressed areas that we felt we could work better on together,” says Gaudreau.
• They help staff to achieve a healthier “work-life balance.”
One manager recently learned an employee wanted to leave the patient access department. “We fostered a transfer to another area within the hospital, which was more appropriately aligned with the employee’s skill sets,” says Gaudreau.
Many employees express the need for more downtime, due to personal issues. “Some ask for additional leadership support to temporarily offload work so they can get home on time or enjoy their vacations fully,” says Gaudreau.