As a health care organization, we are literally accountable for people’s lives. Therefore, the bar must be higher for us to create an environment that ensures our employees (doctors, nurses, and administrative staff) can bring their best to work every day.
This is both a moral obligation and a strategic advantage. Research shows healthcare organizations with higher engagement, for instance, deliver the best health outcomes and the best patient experience at the most affordable cost. It’s no surprise, therefore, that these organizations also have the best workforce outcomes, including retention, engagement, attraction, and productivity.
Here at Providence St. Joseph Health, we are passionate about our caregivers’ experience and are committed to engaging, energizing, and, most importantly, enabling our caregivers’ success. In areas where we have reached these aspirations, we are also providing the best clinical care and the best experience for our patients. By living our promise of “know me, care for me, and ease my way” internally, we are able to enliven our mission and be “steadfast in serving all.”
Technology as an Enabler
The workforce challenges in healthcare are well documented: As a sector, we are dealing with shortages in several clinical areas, caused by the aging U.S. population, which is simultaneously increasing demand. The aging population also decreases clinical educators, which has negatively impacted matriculation rates. In addition to record low unemployment, these challenges are also placing upward pressure on wages and contributing to higher burn-out rates among clinicians.
One thing is clear, we can’t solve these challenges by doing “business as usual.” At Providence St. Joseph Health, we have been steadfast in our efforts to improve our caregivers’ experience for several years. And, our caregivers’ have told us we’re getting better, reflected in 5 years of consistent improvement on our engagement surveys. In the past few years, we’ve made a commitment to raise the bar even higher and enable key elements of our caregivers’ work experience with the use of innovative technology solutions.
Outside healthcare, you can use your mobile device to order anything online and have it delivered to your door in a matter of minutes if you so choose. You can plan a vacation, access an endless collection of music and videos, and stay connected with friends and family. And, you can manage your finances, access any type of news and monitor steps and sleep. Providence St. Joseph Health is envisioning a future where our patients and caregivers have access to technology that simplifies their experience.
"At Providence St. Joseph Health, we know cultivating an inspiring experience for our caregivers will enable us reach our vision of creating health for a better world"
Technology Can Improve the Work Experience
While technology can’t take the place of exceptional leadership or a mission-inspired culture, it can be a significant enabler to our “know me, care for me, ease my way” promise. We have several unique ways of “getting to know” our caregivers. This starts even before they come to new hire orientation, with pre-hire assessments that help us understand what strengths new caregivers are bringing with them, what their potential development areas are, and what kind of access they will need to be successful on day 1. These tools help us customize 30, 60, 90 day plans for each new hire, ensuring they have the best experience possible. We also use technology to help their supervisors stay on track with these plans, enabling their success as well. This has helped us improve out 90 day retention rates by over 50 percent
Once onboard, caregivers are encouraged to use our internal, mobile-accessible, social media platforms. These platforms provide an excellent way for employees to stay informed and connected, contributing to their sense of belonging. They also enable caregivers to share best practices for both clinical and administrative duties.
We also use technology to “care for” our caregivers, helping them stay healthy and contributing to their professional development. For several years now, Providence St. Joseph Health has offered our caregivers incentives for engaging in healthy behaviors. We’ve recently implemented a system-wide technology platform that helps employees assess their own health, set personal goals, and compete in health challenges with their peers. The program has been so successful we’ve also extended it to spouses, to help ensure we promote health for the whole family. We’ve also had success using several personalized decision tools & bots during benefits enrollment, making sure our caregivers select the right benefits options, based on their individual needs and preferences.
In addition to promoting health, Providence St. Joseph Health uses a social platform to promote employee development. Using a platform we’ve called RISE!, all caregivers can explore development paths, set development plans, get access to internal and external content, and recommend content to their peers. While it’s still early, we’ve already seen this tool’s potential to transform the learning experience for caregivers, improving their engagement while building capabilities for the future. We are also building the workforce of the future by extending the benefit of our accredited University of Providence, virtually. In the next few years, we will be able to provide on-line instruction to current and potential caregivers in every community we serve.
Finally, Providence St. Joseph Health is endeavoring to “ease our caregivers’ way.”For patients, we’ve done this by migrating to one electronic medical record (EMR), which allows us to interact with them as individuals. All Providence St. Joseph Health patients now have access to an app, called MyChart, that can help make appointments, review lab results, contact their providers, and order prescriptions. For our caregivers, we are launching an innovative new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and partnering with others to offer technology solutions we’ve never had before. These tools will give managers mobile access to real-time data, decision support tools, and updates on the activities they care most about.
These new technologies will allow us to improve our caregivers’ experience, while striving for top decile outcomes for our patients and communities. They represent a continuation of the pioneering spirit our founders had, honoring our heritage, while changing with the signs of the time.
The Best Healthcare Model for the Future
The best healthcare will always be provided one patient at a time, with compassion and love. As a mission-focused, values-based organization, Providence St. Joseph Health believes healthcare is a human right. And, we are steadfast in serving all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. In order to live this mission far in the future, as we face significant workforce challenges, we must look for innovative ways to simplify work and enable our caregivers’ success. Using technology as one of these enablers can significantly improve the employee experience, ultimately creating the best outcomes for our patients and communities.