Report: Staff engagement key to patient experience

Healthcare providers must encourage employee engagement if they want to improve patient care, according to a new report from the Point of Care Foundation in the United Kingdom.

"Staff engagement is a function of good management and teamwork, staff satisfaction and staff health and wellbeing. These are, in turn, related to a number of aspects of clinical quality, patient experience and productivity and costs. Staff wellbeing, for example, is an important antecedent of patient care performance," authors write in the report.

How healthcare staff feel about their work can affect a hospital's efficiency and financial performance, according to the report. Staff engagement as a whole has fallen each year since 2009 before rising very slightly in 2012, with only 55 percent of people surveyed for the report indicating that they'd recommend working at their respective organizations.

Various surveys conducted and referenced in the report show not all staff think they're properly engaged at work:

  • Fifty-five percent said they get clear feedback from managers on their performance;

  • Sixty-five percent are satisfied with the support they get;

  • Eighty-three percent received some sort of review or appraisal;

  • Just 35 percent report that communication between senior managers and staff is effective;

  • Sixty-two percent think patient care is their organization's top priority; and

  • Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed felt unwell as a result of work-related stress, a number that jumped to 55 percent among nurses.

"It's the experiences of staff that shape patients' experiences of care, for good or ill, not the other way around. Working in healthcare ought to rank among the best jobs in the world, but far too many healthcare professionals feel over-worked, disempowered and unappreciated," Point of Care Foundation Director Jocelyn Cornwell wrote in the report.

Patient satisfaction rates were consistently higher in acute specialist trusts, with better rates of staff health and wellbeing, as measured by injury rates, stress levels, job satisfaction and turnover intentions, according to the report. To help improve staff engagement, the report recommends:

  • Giving all staff well-structured feedback, and ongoing training and support for personal and career development;

  • Training managers and supervisors in people-management skills;

  • Having well-defined teams that regularly review how they are doing and get to know each other;

  • Creating a space for staff to reflect on patient care challenges;

  • Setting specific goals for quality and safety;

  • Articulating values and show how they translate into behavior; and

  • Acting on staff feedback--and letting staff make the improvements they suggest.

"Patient satisfaction is most influenced by human factors," more so than facility upgrades or equipment, and hospitals should invest in a staff with good interpersonal skills, FierceHealthcare previously reported. 

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)