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Reforming Healthcare Means Reforming the Healthcare Workforce

April 13, 2017

evidence-healthcare-hiring.jpgWe are returning to the concept of“evidence-based” hiring in healthcare. Talent professionals realize that reforming healthcare means reforming the healthcare workforce. Care delivery models are going to continue to evolve. The pace of technology advances will only increase. The organizations with the most talented leaders, physicians, nurses and front line staff have the best chance of success.

For decades, healthcare valued the leader with the impressive resume, and the physician or nurse from the top program, above all else, with little attention or focus on behavioral skills. Seemingly overnight, though, we started asking these people - who were chosen for their technical skills - to now design and implement highly collaborative, patient-centered, value-based care models. The people on these teams may or may not be suited for this new approach.

Other industries, particularly manufacturing, faced similar challenges in past decades. Progressive companies implemented a more objective, “evidence-based” approach to selecting and developing talent.

They defined the behavioral skills they are looking for, and utilized tools and approaches that rely less on instinct and credentials and more on measurable behavioral skills. Making hiring decisions on intuition, anecdotal evidence, and flawed data isn’t a valid or reliable method to choose top performers.

Candidate selection should be based on best practices in order to overcome opinions, knowledge gaps, and biases. Wherever possible, it should rely on formal, explicit methods to analyze evidence and make the data available to the people making the hiring decisions. Moreover, those people need to be educated on how to use this data and need to embrace their role in building and developing their teams.

What does this look like? It’s a relatively simple three-step process:

  1. Define the skills and behavioral competencies that correlate with success;

  2. Create the most efficient and effective process (considering the candidate pool, goals, and candidate experience); and

  3. Deploy proven, healthcare-specific selection tools with easy-to-use, configurable behavioral assessments, and an effective interviewing program.


  1. Behavioral Competencies. While technical and behavioral skills are still the baseline, you also need to define the specific behavioral skills you want to target.
  1. The Science of Big Data and Selection. The idea of “big data” in the world of talent is so important that Time Magazine recently devoted a cover story to the use of behavioral assessments by employers. For instance, a well-designed behavioral assessment can correlate with job performance at a “correlation coeffcient” as high as .65. (1.0 would be a perfect correlation.) How good is this?

    The correlation between mammogram results and the likelihood of detecting breast cancer in the following year is .32. That illustrates the extent to which the concept of Evidence-Based Care can correlate with evidence-based hiring!
  1. Validation and Legal Defensibility. Every hiring decision creates potential legal risk; some situations more than others. High-volume positions are often targeted by the EEOC or OFCCP.

    A structured approach to defining the job-relevant competencies, combined with the use of validated tools and a structured interviewing program, reduce that risk.
  1. The Right Tool. Look for a tool that is specific to the role and for your purpose. Some general personality inventories are useful for training and development, but not well-suited for making hiring decisions. Whenever possible, choose tools designed specifically for healthcare and for the job family in question.

  2. Staffing Shortages. If you are having trouble finding candidates for a particular role, why would you use a deliberate selection process? If you only have two candidates to choose from and selecting the wrong one will have a negative impact on the organization and likely lead to yet another long search, you need to make the right choice the first time.

For a more detailed discussion about the concept of evidence-based hiring, check out this whitepaper:

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.