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Why HR Consultants Should Bring the Science of Quality Management to Healthcare Professionals

By Penelope Przekop, CEO, PDC Pharma Strategy

Bringing the science of quality management directly to healthcare professionals may be an overlooked solution for career burnout and dissatisfaction. In this article, you’ll discover why.

Hospitals and healthcare organization leaders are challenged to run businesses at the center of a 5-point intersection that includes:

  • Patients and their families
  • Healthcare providers who have taken oaths to serve, protect, and do no harm to patients
  • The insurance industry, which was founded with the aim to empower patients to obtain affordable healthcare when needed.
  • The pharmaceutical industry (including medical devices, biologics, etc.), which is required to ensure patient safety
  • The multiple regulatory agencies whose joint mission is to protect public health.

Given the underlying mantra of public health shared by these converging traffic streams, why are so many healthcare professionals struggling to actually provide healthcare to patients in the middle of what feels like a 50-vehicle pileup that no one else sees?

According to the March 23, 2023 article, How to Support Nurses and Raise Nurse Retention Rates, in Nurse Journal,

“From February 2020 to September 2021, 18% of healthcare workers quit their jobs. Additionally, 12% have been laid off and 19% thought about leaving their job.”

Regardless of anyone’s sincere dedication to patient care, without a viable, financially healthy business model and operational structure, patients will not receive care in our current culture. Part of that structure is the human resources (HR) function, which covers a broad range of functions and challenges. As a hub for employee advocacy, the function often turns to HR healthcare consultants to tailor solutions to their unique industry needs.

Many HR healthcare consulting firms offer a wide range of services that include but are not limited to:

  • Employee Engagement and Retention
  • Training and Development
  • Organizational Development and Change Management
  • Employee Health and Well-being

Despite all the positive work HR professionals do, if asked to rate career satisfaction on a 5-star scale, it would not be outrageous to assume that most healthcare professionals, especially those staffing our hospitals, would fall into the 1 to 3-star range.

When applied appropriately, the science of quality management results in customer satisfaction (5-star reviews). Industries in all regions of the world rely on it. Governments across the globe require high-risk industries to use it. It made its way into the pharmaceutical industry via medical device manufacturing.

The science of quality management addresses the four HR consulting areas bulleted above and more. Many quality functions in hospitals and other healthcare organizations directly or indirectly apply quality management concepts, however, the approaches focus on achieving success for the company not for the employees.  It’s time to flip the script and focus on those who we all count on to provide healthcare directly to the patient. If they know how to identify and build careers that will satisfy them on an authentic level, the ripple effects can be astounding.

Providing training is one way to support employee engagement, retention, growth, well-being, etc. Typical courses offered to employees include a diverse mix of technical and compliance topics along with soft skills such as public speaking, negotiating, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, change management, and time management. These courses offer tremendous value; however, they’re driven by the needs of the company rather than the needs of the employee.

Organizations are prioritizing workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion training. These programs inspire organizational growth by encouraging differences and unity among employees. Diversity training helps employees navigate different opinions, understand other perspectives, and minimize discrimination and prejudice. Again, incredibly valuable, yet the goal remains organizational growth by focusing on how employees can better understand others for the purpose of unity.

The missing piece of the training puzzle is support for the employee’s ability to identify and understand their own authenticity and the value it brings to the workplace. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, your employees carry a deep need to understand and achieve their full, unique potential as individuals. It may surprise leaders to know that the science of quality management provides a framework, methods, and tools for self-exploration and career decision making; its all about defining and building quality.

Healthcare leaders can support and foster each employee’s desire for an authentic life and career by offering training focused on the following 3 topics:

  1. Quality Management Basics: How to Apply the Science of Quality Management to Your Career
  2. Personal Story Date Mining: How to Do It and the Value it Brings
  3. A Systems Approach to Career Development

Effective leaders inspire employees to produce excellent goods and services while encouraging professional development. When employees know how to identify and build the career that they authentically desire, they gain a feeling of empowerment that enables them to stop blaming others, make better decisions under pressure, share their ideas, and accept responsibility for their decisions. This is especially powerful for those working in complex environments that can easily spur feelings of helplessness.

Healthcare HR professionals should seek input from consultants on how to help empower employees and relay the message that each employee is ultimately responsible for their career and life. Learning about and using a STEM science that literally tells us how to identify what we authentically need (as the customer) and then build it (as the manufacturer) with the tools we have within our control can change mindsets, companies, and perhaps even an entire industry.

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