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5 Things to Know When Implementing Assessment Tools in Healthcare

August 29, 2018

Healthcare organizations are looking for innovative solutions: New technologies, new care delivery models, and new approaches to talent. They are also looking to other industries – adopting lean or Toyota Production Systems, better decision-support systems, and more sophisticated revenue cycle approaches. Other industries have used behavioral assessments for decades. Surveys show that as many as 70% of companies now use behavioral and personality assessment tools in their hiring process. It’s become so ubiquitous that Time Magazine did a cover story on it.

It’s great that healthcare is looking at adding more innovative hiring and talent strategies. We remind clients, though, that it’s not as simple as buying the same pre-employment test that worked for some manufacturing or sales organization and plugging it into whatever you are currently doing. We’ve come in to clean up plenty of hiring processes that struggled not because they chose the wrong test (although it happens), but because no one had the implementation expertise or experience to make it work in healthcare.

Related: Why Can't We Just Use One Behavioral Assessment for Everything?

Nearly a decade ago, PSI took the tools and expertise that were developed working with Toyota and other leading organizations – and specifically adapted them to healthcare. Today, we work with some of the largest and most sophisticated health systems in the country, as well as smaller health systems, physician groups, and urgent care centers. They all present unique challenges, but common themes emerge when organizations get it right.

Here are the Top 5:

  1. Adequately Plan for Technology Challenges 
    While our assessments can be run from our powerful platform (SelecTrak®), most hospitals, today, use applicant tracking software programs and want everything to run from that system. Some systems are better than others. You cannot start talking about the integration process early enough. Some platforms aren’t great at integrations. Some assessments don’t integrate well with AT systems. Some ATS vendors are just plain difficult to work with when it comes to integrations. While it should be a standard part of the service they provide, they usually gain nothing from doing this work – other than pleasing their client! Either way, start defining the functionality you have in mind early in the process and get busy scoping out the integration – ideally with an assessment vendor who has substantial experience.

  2. Understand the Importance of Buy-in 
    I’ve seen HR professionals move from manufacturing to healthcare and be shocked at how much work it takes to implement real changes. Healthcare places a premium on professional autonomy and encourages nurses, staff, and others to feel a sense of ownership over the services provided. They care. That’s a good thing. When you propose a change to what you are looking for in candidates and how you are going to evaluate it, however, they want to know you are doing the right thing, and they want a say in the final process. Make sure you have a solid change management approach – including getting input from key constituencies, and then reporting back to them on the program’s successes.

  3. Be Flexible 
    Healthcare organizations are incredibly complex. Accordingly, your selection system for acute care might differ slightly from long term care settings and physician groups. Again – finding the right tools is important, but knowing the best way to implement them across the various business units is critical.

  4. Avoid a Fragmented, Piecemeal Approach 
    While you want to have some flexibility in the system, you really do need to think about a common, organization-wide approach to building a selection “system.” This is NOT about plugging in a test to reduce nursing turnover. It doesn’t work that way. Organizations support their culture and organizational goals when they define the goals of the selection system and then build that selection system around a common set of behavioral competencies, using different assessments for different job families, but a consistent approach. Note I said selection “system.” This means coordinating all components - the application, interview, assessment, etc., to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

  5. Understand the Uniqueness of Healthcare 
    Healthcare is unique. We can’t say that enough. The science of psychometric testing is the same across industries, but how you use that science – the tools and strategies, in healthcare takes industry knowledge. Knowing how nurses think, how to appeal to the interests and goals of the medical staff, to tie your selection efforts to the larger organizational goal – these require a test vendor who understands the nuances and complexities of healthcare.

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.