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6 Ways Healthcare Hiring is Different from Other Industries

March 24, 2011

When we work with our healthcare partners, how do we tailor our approach?  In some respects it is very similar to what we do in any industry – identify key traits and competencies and configure selection tools that will predict which candidates will succeed.

In fact, as hospitals look to other industries for solutions to their challenges, like adopting 'lean' management approaches, we have the advantage of applying what we’ve learned in the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and customer service sectors.  Certainly our approach to legal defensibility remains the same.  (And is more important than ever as the OFCCP seeks to confirm its jurisdiction over hospitals).Beyond these, however, healthcare IS different in many respects:

  1. Complexity – Hospitals tend to have very complex organizational structures compared to their overall size.  A 400-bed hospital might have over 1,000 different job titles.

  2. Highly trained professionals  A large portion of the workforce- physicians, nurses, allied health and many technical positions, are highly trained and have a high level of autonomy.   Many have performance criteria defined by the profession and by state and national testing and licensing bodies.

  3. A fragmented  organization structure – An auto manufacturer designs the entire workforce around production of the car.  Hospitals, only recently, have begun to take a service line or patient-centered approach to organizational structure, built around the patient experience.  Historically, a hospital is built around relatively independent departments, each with a great deal of autonomy.

  4. De-centralized and disparate hiring processes  This autonomy often fosters a decentralized and inconsistent approach to recruiting and hiring.  Nursing has its approach, other departments do something else, and physician hiring is informally controlled by the C-suite and the VPMA.   Inconsistency between hospitals in a system, or even hiring managers within the same hospital, make standardization difficult and create unnecessary legal risk.

  5. Customer Service is no longer a 'nice to have' – Every company wants to improve customer service but with the new HCAHPS requirements, patient satisfaction scores are a critical success metric for hospitals.

  6. The nature of the Services – Poor quality in a manufacturing plant means a poor product and a weakened competitive advantage. Poor quality in a hospital means harm to patients and the hospital’s ability to fulfill its mission.

Accordingly, we advocate a unique approach to selection:

  1. Healthcare-specific solutions – Basic, off the shelf personality tests that might be fine for other industries don’t work in healthcare.  Nurses, physicians, and other care providers are unique and assessments must incorporate an understanding of the work and the competencies that lead to success.

  2. A multi-level approach – Creating a patient and family focused environment means you can’t just improve the level of customer service provided by the nursing staff.  Even housekeeping impacts the patient experience, and if you don’t hire better managers, hiring better front line workers is futile.

  3. Consider the 'future-state' – Healthcare is changing – rapidly.  Our traditional better performers may not be what we need moving forward.  It takes a thorough understanding of the new challenges and of the vision of the organization, in order to build the workforce for the future.

The science of selection can be applied to any industry and many industries are similar in many respects so selection solutions can be applied in a similar manner.  For a number of reasons, healthcare is unique and your approach to selection should reflect these differences.

Reducing Turnover in Healthcare

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.