Looking to make big changes? Here are 4 places where Press Ganey says healthcare leaders should start

Healthcare leaders looking to drive a big change in their organization need to start by articulating their strategic vision—and doing their homework to make sure their workforce is able to carry out that vision, according to the annual Strategic Insights report from Press Ganey.

The third in a series, this latest report builds on previous reports from Press Ganey which drew the connections between patient experience and patient safety and offered six guiding principles organizations can use—such as setting a goal of zero patient harm—to drive meaningful change.

This latest report offers lessons of how to drive that improvement at a granular level, said James Merlino, M.D., Chief Transformation Officer at Press Ganey told FierceHealthcare.

RELATED: Press Ganey's 6 guiding strategic, organizational principles for care transformation

"Patient experience is not about making people happy. It's about safe, high quality, patient-centered care," Merlino said. "When you focus on your culture as a path to high performance for a safety quality experience that matters to patients, you're going to perform better."

To get started on a path of making transformative changes—whether that includes evolving to better embrace value-based care models or addressing consumerism among patients—leaders should:

  • Create an enterprise-wide assessment: It should include unit-level audits across multiple performance domains, leadership surveys, stakeholder interviews. The aim is to identify high-value improvement opportunities and obstacles to progress.
  • Develop analyses of performance interdependencies: This should provide an understanding of interdependencies across safety, quality, patient experience, and workforce engagement—and identify silos.
  • Identify measurable targets: Transformational plans require action-item prioritization, goal setting and management feedback loops to monitor performance. 
  • Have an integrated dashboard: The ability of a CEO and senior executives to maintain a comprehensive view of the organization is crucial for driving change.

"It starts by stepping back and thinking about your overall strategy first. For organizations that go right to the tactics, the evidence shows they don't perform as fast and as well as they would expect," Merlino said. "You should be asking a couple of questions: Is your organization really looking at your performance to get a baseline across the quality, across the patient experience and are you measuring workforce engagement? Those are the core elements you need to take advantage of this relationship." 

Getting the workforce on board

Leaders should evaluate their workforce's cultural readiness for change. That includes measuring employee engagement, employees' understanding of the strategic vision and why the change is important, and the workforce's willingness to accept change.

RELATED: Patients' perception of care trending up 'across the board,' says Press Ganey CMO Thomas Lee 

This is important to measure and address engagement because it drives improvement, the report says. An examination of data from 253 healthcare organizations found that substantially more organizations with high percentages of highly-engaged units earned the top Leapfrog Hospital Safety grade compared to units with low engagement.

"You should really be putting your early efforts at moving those less engaged teams to higher levels of engagement," Merlino said. "We know if we can get them engaged, they will deliver better results for safety, quality, and experience."

Finally, healthcare organizations need to make sure they have leaders that will help make the vision a reality and create an integrated data and management strategy to best leverage the value of their efforts.

"The return on investment for cultivating leaders who take personal and collective ownership for the strategic vision and are prepared to steer their teams toward that vision is an engaged workforce and organizational culture that can support and sustain transformation," the report said.