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Results Say Healthcare Assessments Predict Patient Safety & Satisfaction

September 6, 2017

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For the past seven years, health systems have been asking us to help them identify nursing candidates who are more likely to be service-oriented and patient focused. It’s no coincidence that they started asking for this help right after implementation of the Medicare HCAHPS program which ties reimbursement to patient satisfaction scores.

We were able to apply the same evidence-based hiring principles to healthcare that we’ve used in other industries for decades. These principles work and the process is pretty straightforward.

Implementing Evidence-Based Healthcare Hiring Principles

1. Define the behavioral competencies that have been shown to predict performance in the role (in this case, nursing – considering the new expectations, of course).

2. Identify the most efficient hiring/selection process.

3. Add as much objectivity to the hiring decision as possible with a structured interviewing program and proven healthcare-specific pre-employment behavioral assessments.

When it’s done right, you change your culture, improve the patient experience, and can reduce turnover.

Now we are even starting to see that these same tools have the ability to predict patient safety behaviors. It’s not surprising. Using behavioral assessments, we’ve been able to predict individuals more prone to on-the-job accidents in other industries. This information is extremely powerful – particularly when it comes to training and building processes to avoid dangerous situations.

With all of the technology and processes in place, mistakes that happen are often a result of human error. People have poor attention to detail or a low level of conscientiousness. They know they are supposed to wash their hands, follow universal precautions, or double check the dosage and patient name, but they still fail to, and too often.

Results Are In

Recently, we’ve seen real evidence that the same attributes that predict overall nursing behavior and performance also predict patient safety incidents. In our latest validation study evaluating the correlation between scores on healthcare assessments and on-the-job nursing performance ratings, we saw a startling relationship between assessment scores and patient safety incidents.

Looking at a group of 200 nurses over a full year, we compared job performance to test scores. There were four big findings:

  1. Assessment scores were strongly correlated with job performance ratings.

  2. Assessment scores were strongly correlated with counter-productive work behaviors.

  3. Assessment scores predicted turnover; and, most importantly,

  4. Assessment scores were strongly correlated with patient safety incidents.

In fact, during the period in question, there were 33 safety incidents. 26 of these involved a nurse who had scored quite low on our NurseFit behavioral assessment.

What does this mean? In addition to evaluating behavioral competencies like dependability, collaboration, and service-orientation, this tool examines the type of behavioral competencies that impact patient safety. This has huge implications for selection and development programs. This preliminary data confirms our theory that healthcare organizations can learn from the progressive talent strategies used by other industries. Keep an eye out for more research on this important topic.

 If you want to learn more, see our free whitepaper:

Patient Safety



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.