With staffing pressures mounting, home-based care providers must rethink their approach to long-term engagement of their clinical staff. While many organizations have taken short-term measures to alleviate staffing shortages and turnover, those that are able to make lasting, cultural changes will be best served well into the future.
For some successful providers, the key is creating a culture of productivity. That means not only defining productivity expectations but communicating and reinforcing them at every level — often with the use of technology.
“Creating a positive environment with clear objectives, where staff feel the freedom to share ideas, voice concern and work together to reach the best resolution allows for a culture of productivity,” says Jo Ann Greenslade, VP, Home Health for Jet Health Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas-based provider of home health, hospice and personal care services across four states. “Everyone has a common goal to meet the needs of the patient and spend their time in the most efficient manner.”
Home-based care providers can take several steps toward creating a culture of productivity that will in turn help attract and retain clinical staff.
1. Define productivity goals
Productivity means different things to different organizations. Without a clear definition of productivity, home-based care leadership may struggle to hold staff accountable to their productivity goals and expectations.
“When I came to Care Central, I shifted the priority of my clinical team to field staff productivity,” says Holly Chaffee, President and CEO of Care Central VNA & Hospice, a multi-service provider based in Gardner and Webster, Massachusetts. “All field clinicians including nurses, therapists, social workers, and home health aides — all have productivity expectations. Some were consistently meeting or exceeding this metric, and some were not.
“The foundational element of achieving consistent and equitable productivity across teams and individual clinicians begins with setting clear expectations and utilizing formal reporting structures. Consistent and careful review of productivity reports for ongoing measure of success or variances in productivity is critical.”
Educating and enabling staff to track their own productivity is another important component, Chaffee says.
“This is made simple by using our technology, specifically the reports in our Electronic Health Record (EHR) as well as live time scheduling views available on our clinician’s devices. Utilizing and optimizing information available in the EHR allows people to monitor and manage reports that are invaluable tools if reviewed on a regular basis,” she says.
2. Communicate progress
Setting goals is a critical part of creating a culture of productivity, but those goals are lost without clear communication as to whether staff are meeting expectations. By measuring productivity through the help of an EHR and consistently bringing team members into the conversation, teams can see their progress and can take pride in the care they are providing.
At Care Central VNA, the organization holds weekly management meetings offsite at a local community bank conference room. During those meetings, the management team reviews reports that apply to each individual area, whether it’s hospice, human resources, home care or compliance. Having leadership review and report on staff progress and quality metrics utilizing the reports codifies the value of the reports in progress toward strategic goals, Chaffee says.
“At Care Central VNA & Hospice, Inc., we utilize Homecare Homebase reporting, including analytics dashboards, for ongoing evaluation of our organizational performance,” Chaffee says. “We are quickly able to evaluate process and quality outcome metrics, which feed into star ratings and value-based purchasing percentiles, as well as operational indicators affecting financial performance, such as visit utilization and productivity.”
Additionally, the interface between the company’s EHR and other platforms allows leadership to further monitor productivity.
“On a daily basis, Homecare Homebase touches every part of our organization,” she says. “The interfaces with other vendors such as Forcura, our document management system, and SHP, our performance improvement platform, with real-time data, really gives us a complete snapshot of all metrics that we need to be successful. Our new payment system, value-based purchasing, holds our organization accountable for specific metrics. We need our staff to understand these metrics and embrace technology and reporting provided for us to be successful.”
People like to be successful at what they do. Staff like to learn and see improvements. I think that our commitment to the utilization of technology and collaborative review fosters a culture of productivity.”
3. Reinforce throughout the organization
Once staff have a clear understanding of goals and can see their progress and how it benefits the care they provide, it’s important for leadership to continue fostering the culture — at every level of the organization.
“As leaders, we have to know what the company’s values and culture are, what [staff] expect from us, and then we have to live it out,” says Gayla Gunter, homecare director for Louisiana-based Lagniappe Homecare. “It begins with our key leadership team, the office managers and the clinical managers that oversee the staff in the field. You’ve got to begin at that level with those leaders to start establishing that culture that you want your company to be known for, and just live it out before your staff. If we don’t exhibit these characteristics, we can’t expect our staff to follow.”
With buy-in across all staff levels, not only will the culture of productivity grow throughout the organization, but leadership can realize the added benefits of retention — particularly in today’s challenging staffing environment.
“Money isn’t everything,” Gunter says. “We work really hard to create an environment where employees are happy and they’re productive. When you do that, you see you have loyal employees. They remain with a company that has that type of culture.”
This article is sponsored by Homecare Homebase. Homecare Homebase is a software leader offering hosted, cloud-based solutions to streamline operations, simplify compliance and boost clinical and financial outcomes for home-based care agencies. Our customized mobile solutions enable real-time, wireless data exchange and communication between field clinicians, physicians and office staff for better care, more accurate reporting and improved revenue cycle management. For more information, visit hchb.com.
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