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The imperative of culture: a quantitative analysis of the impact of culture on workforce engagement, patient experience, physician engagement, value-based purchasing, and turnover

Authors Owens K, Eggers J, Keller S, McDonald A

Received 8 December 2016

Accepted for publication 5 February 2017

Published 6 April 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 25—31

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JHL.S126381

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Thomas Bart

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Russell Taichman

Video abstract presented by Katie Owens.

Views: 366

Katie Owens,1 Jim Eggers,2 Stephanie Keller,1 Audrey McDonald1

1HealthStream Engagement Institute, Pensacola, FL, 2Analytics, HealthStream, Laurel, MD, USA

Abstract: Current uncertainty for the future of the health care landscape is placing an increasing amount of pressure on leadership teams to be prepared to steer their organization forward in a number of potential directions. It is commonly recognized among health care leaders that culture will either enable or disable organizational success. However, very few studies empirically link culture to health care-specific performance outcomes. Nearly every health care organization in the US specifies its cultural aspirations through mission and vision statements and values. Ambitions of patient-centeredness, care for the community, workplace of choice, and world-class quality are frequently cited; yet, little definitive research exists to quantify the importance of building high-performing cultures. Our study examined the impact of cultural attributes defined by a culture index (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.88) on corresponding performance with key health care measures. We mapped results of the culture index across data sets, compared results, and evaluated variations in performance among key indicators for leaders. Organizations that perform in the top quartile for our culture index statistically significantly outperformed those in the bottom quartile on all but one key performance indicator tested. The culture top quartile organizations outperformed every domain for employee engagement, physician engagement, patient experience, and overall value-based purchasing performance with statistical significance. Culture index top quartile performers also had a 3.4% lower turnover rate than the bottom quartile performers. Finally, culture index top quartile performers earned an additional 1% on value-based purchasing. Our findings demonstrate a meaningful connection between performance in the culture index and organizational performance. To best impact these key performance outcomes, health care leaders should pay attention to culture and actively steer workforce engagement in attributes that represent the culture index, such as treating patients as valued customers, having congruency between employee and organizational values, promoting employee pride, and encouraging the feeling that being a member of the organization is rewarding, in order to leverage culture as a competitive advantage.

Keywords: culture, employee engagement, patient experience, value-based care, HCAHPS, physician engagement

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