Tips to acquire, develop talent for quality improvement

Healthcare organizations can take a page out of the human resources (HR) playbook by hiring and retaining talented staff, leading to quality improvement, according to recent summary released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Starting in 2008, the AHRQ-funded ACTION Task Order and the Health Research & Education Trust (an affiliate of the American Hospital Association) researched how HR practices, also known as high-performance work practices (HPWP), can help improve outcomes. Researchers found that there is a link between staffing practices and patient outcomes.

Even though most survey respondents were not familiar with the term, most organizations agreed HPWPs helped produce positive results, specifically, that talented staff members were crucial to improving healthcare quality.

According to the report, common best practices included the following:

  • Offering market-competitive salaries and benefits
  • Using selective hiring practices, such as behavioral and peer-developed standards to assess culture fit and competency
  • Rolling the selection process with the onboarding process into one process
  • Focusing on employee development, including physicians, by creating robust corporate training "universities" or by sending them to external leadership training programs

"[H]igh-performance work practices can indeed influence quality and safety outcomes in health care organizations, and ... the potential impact of these effects could be substantial," states the report. "[O]ur findings suggest that considering the level and sophistication of HPWP use within health care organizations may help to explain differences in the relative success of organizational interventions designed to improve quality and safety, above and beyond the general factors of leadership commitment and organizational climate."

For more information:
- read the AHRQ summary

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