As patient experience survey results take on greater importance within health care, Penn State Health St. Joseph has made an investment in its providers that it believes will have lasting impact.
In the spring of this year, 19 surgeons, physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants began an executive coaching program that used the results of a personality assessment to identify areas for growth and set participants on a track to self-improvement. Serving as program sponsor was Dr. Kimberly Wolf, senior medical director of quality.
“This went beyond patient satisfaction scores,” Wolf says. “We wanted to provide tools that would help our providers better themselves. Everyone here has an intense job and a personal life. We wanted to ensure they have balance and can bring their best self to work so whatever else is going on isn’t being conveyed to the patient.”
Leading the program was Adrean Turner of Turner Coaching, Training and Consulting. Wolf said Turner was selected because she was seen as a good fit with providers.
“Adrean has worked previously with staff in our offices,” she explains. “We had a lot of positive feedback about her, her content and the way she delivered it.”
Turner would present the coaching program in a combination of group and individual sessions. Starting as a group, the providers completed a workplace profile that helped them understand what type of personality they have, what motivates them, what stresses them and the best ways to work with people who have different styles.
“In our first group coaching session, providers participated in exercises to talk about different communication styles, how to engage with others who have different styles and how to use the positive assets of their personality to be more influential,” Turner says. “We followed the two-hour group session with up to six half-hour individual sessions.”
Each participant started the program by evaluating his or her own level of satisfaction in terms of career, personal development, money, health, fitness and more. From there they set personal goals. Turner also incorporated videos, stress management techniques, journaling and role playing in the sessions.
“Coaching helps you to put together an objective plan to accomplish your goals,” Turner says. “In addition to wanting to see improvement in their personal well-being, many of the providers mentioned increasing emotional intelligence, exhibiting bedside manner, asking more questions and building greater relationships with patients as important goals. People respond when you engage with them.”
As the year progressed and the participants were able to put what they learned into practice, they saw real results, according to Turner.
“One of the benefits was learning how to delegate better. They also started building plans with patients and doing less of bringing everything into the exam room,” she says. “They shared comments, such as ‘I felt less stress as I became more aware to delegate some of my tasks’ and ‘I’ve noticed that patients are more responsive because I changed my listening style.’”
Five months after they started, 75 percent of the providers had completed the program and reported not only increased personal satisfaction in their careers, but also improvement in their patient satisfaction scores.
“Providers rated their level of satisfaction in eight different areas at the start of the program,” Turner says. “By the end of the program, 60% acknowledged increased satisfaction in at least three personal markers and 79% increased the number of times patients gave them a score of 9 or 10 on their satisfaction survey.”