Creating a Culture of Service

After URMC CEO Bradford Berk, M.D., Ph.D., suffered a spinal cord injury in 2009, he returned to work with a renewed commitment to make URMC more patient- and family-centered.  That has meant changing our traditional, academic medical center culture with an approach that systematically involves patients and families in shared decision-making.  It has also meant finding new ways to engage our faculty and staff in their work lives so that they are more satisfied and committed to the organization.   Both of these efforts blossomed in 2011. 

Patients and Families at the Center

steward helping elderly womanIn February, URMC officially kicked off its Patient-and-Family Centered Care (PFCC) initiative, enlisting the help of hundreds of administrative and medical leaders along with staff throughout the health system.  Working through a central Steering Committee, PFCC reiterated our commitment to the ICARE values, an acronym for integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence.  To bring these values to life, all faculty and staff were asked to commit to a set of simple, universal behaviors which, when practiced consistently, make a measurable difference in the quality of our interactions.  Consultants were retained to work with several units and clinical departments on additional, job-specific behaviors that will set the pace for other areas within the organization.  And, perhaps most important, URMC upped its ante by sharing patient satisfaction data not only with inpatient units, but with individual physicians through their department chairs. This marked the first time that URMC physicians had the opportunity to receive feedback about themselves from their own patients – along with coaching on how to improve their interactions. 

To foster better teamwork among disciplines, a number of patient care units at Strong Memorial Hospital have begun holding regular interdisciplinary leadership meetings that include the unit’s medical director and nurse leaders along with professionals from social work, housekeeping, pharmacy, food service and more.  Together, the team prioritizes the unit’s goals and creates a management plan that aligns with the Hospital’s overall management plan. 

At The Highlands at Brighton staff training efforts focused on patient- and family-centered care, with each department identifying a project to enhance the patient/resident experience. For example, Dietary has implemented a selective menu on the Rehab/Post-acute care unit as an alternative to traditional nursing home tray service. This model allows for greater patient choice as well as variety and has been very well received, reducing residents’ food-related complaints on that unit significantly. The service will expand to other units in 2012.

Engaging Care Providers

Staff retreatNever before have health care providers faced such pervasive environmental change.  Managing that change – and the stress it can cause – is critical to the success of myriad initiatives under way to transform our delivery system.  That requires regularly monitoring the attitudes of our employees and taking steps to improve working conditions. 

More than 6,000 Strong Memorial Hospital employees completed an online survey that gauges the extent to which our staff is engaged in the workplace.  That represented a 79 percent participation rate, higher than all previous surveys.  The consulting company conducting the survey benchmarked Strong’s results against those of hundreds of other health care organizations and provided valuable comparisons showing how Strong performs in the areas that matter most to employees. 

speaking at staff retreatOverall, our workforce commitment score – the overarching measure given to participating hospitals – was 4.13 out of a possible 5, up from 4.06 in the 2009 survey.  The number puts Strong Memorial above the average compared with its peers, a notable achievement at a time when workforce engagement is waning nationally.  Staff expressed a solid sense of job security, confidence in senior leadership as well as department- and unit-level managers, and an appreciation for available career development opportunities. 

To make the most of improvement opportunities, managers are working on plans to address areas of dissatisfaction.  Plus, the hospital leadership team has introduced semiannual, cross-departmental retreats that will serve as forums for important dialogue about operational issues, hospital challenges, and more.