Building a Culture of Engagement to Drive Healthcare Excellence

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A disengaged workforce has major consequences in just about any industry. When that industry is healthcare, the consequences become even more dire. Our guest on this week’s edition of the Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast is Katie Owens, President of the Healthcare Experience Foundation.

Katie shares the latest research on how employee disengagement contributes to the underlying causes of major issues in delivering top-quality care to patients and provides us with guidance on addressing these problems.

“Engaged employees are much less likely to experience signs and symptoms of emotional exhaustion and burnout. On the flip side, disengaged employees are three times more likely to exhibit signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue and burnout,” Katie told us.

Employee engagement acts as a shield against the relentless emotional exhaustion and burnout that can trouble individuals in our demanding profession.

“Given the high stakes complexity of health care interactions, when we have team members who are disengaged, we have very real safety and experience consequences that can do real harm to our patients and their loved ones,” Katie said.

Every interaction with our patients holds massive importance from diagnosis to treatment. The unified collaboration among staff is essential for delivering optimal care. However, when disengagement takes hold, it introduces a host of challenges that can literally mean life or death.

As we learn on today’s program, new research points to the percentage of disengaged employees having doubled since 2019.

“Measurement is our best tool to establish our directional strategies so that we are equipping our leaders to be really targeted in our interventions to stabilize, retain and engage our workforce,” Katie said.

Without measurement you simply cannot get a realistic grasp on the problem.

Measurement acts as a diagnostic tool, allowing organizations to gain valuable insights into the baseline levels of employee engagement. It helps us understand the specific areas where disengagement may be prevalent, helping leaders pinpoint the underlying issues that hinder workforce motivation and commitment.

Measurement equips leaders with the knowledge needed to tailor interventions to the specific needs of their workforce. Once measurement has taken place the next step is to address the sources of dissatisfaction and frustration to build that culture of engagement.

As Katie illustrates in today’s interview, much of the problem boils down to a lack of appreciation and recognition.

“I think that’s what we’re missing. Either we go towards focusing on gratitude and pretending that the hard things aren’t happening, or we focus on just removing the barriers but not really inspiring our teams to fill more of those daily moments of joy, gratitude, and purpose,” she said.

Boosting morale and motivation is key as it fosters a positive work culture, where individuals feel valued and supported.

Recognizing the hard work of physicians and staff creates a strong ripple effect that positively impacts patients and their loved ones. It promotes collaboration, enhances the quality of care, fosters empathy and compassion, and contributes to a more stable and dedicated workforce, all of which lead to improved patient experiences and outcomes.

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Our podcast is dedicated to transforming the health care experience so that every person can receive and deliver the best care.

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Meet Katie Owens

Katie believes that the way we deliver and receive healthcare matters—not just for the patients, but for the caregivers, the providers, and administration, too.

As President of the Healthcare Experience Foundation, Katie is taking bold steps to assure that every organization has access to resources for engaging patients and developing their workforce to achieve results. Katie is an innovator, implementing new ways to deliver the best in patient-centered care.

She has influenced hundreds of organizations and thousands of leaders to equip their cultures and instill competencies that create environments of person-centered excellence. Her fundamental tenet is that every person is worthy of an environment where they feel confident in receiving and delivering the best possible care. Known as a leader among leaders, Katie previously served on the HealthStream Leadership Team as Vice President of the Engagement Institute. She also served on the Baptist Health Care (BHC) leadership team in Pensacola, Florida, where she supported the system’s sustained journey to excellence. Katie has led teams of expert coaches dedicated to improving the quality of the patient experience and has been instrumental in creating leading-edge learning assets to support patient experience competencies. She is most proud of having grown Baptist Leadership Group to one of the most respected healthcare coaching practices in the country before being acquired by HealthStream in 2013.

Katie is the lead author of The HCAHPS Imperative for Creating Patient-Centered Excellence and is currently writing her second book about the importance of speaking the patient’s language. She is frequently quoted and has been published in the Huffington Post, Healthcare Financial Management Magazine and Hospitals and Health Networks. She is an energetic, internationally-recognized speaker and has presented for many highly-respected organizations, including American College of Healthcare Executives, Beryl Institute, Cleveland Clinic’s Empathy Summit, Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, and Healthcare Financial Management Association.

Connect with Katie Owens
More episodes with Katie Owens