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What You Need to Ask before Choosing a Healthcare Assessment Partner

October 5, 2016

healthcare-checklist.jpgLet me ask you a question: Does your assessment vendor have the expertise you need? No, really – do they? You need to ask.

Here’s a quote from an assessment vendor’s employee on Glassdoor:

“No real HR experience, just big picture so sometimes it's hard to help clients with real problems they face.”

Prospective clients always ask us – “Why should I use your tools?” I think they are surprised when I don’t immediately tell them about the assessments, themselves – about the correlation coefficients and the number of hospitals using them, or the number of assessments we’ve administered.

What we know is this – our tests are good. We build them ourselves. We have a team of industrial-organizational psychologists who present more research at their annual conference than leading I/O psychology university programs. We have a technology and development team that builds and administers new tests all the time. We do dozens of validation studies every year for clients with outstanding results. I’ll put our tests against anyone’s.

What we also know is this often means very little to clients. Every test they see looks good, has documentation of some sort behind it. Like me, they aren’t I/O psychologists and it makes no sense for them to compare the technical reports or validation evidence or ask about measurement methodologies and theories. Most good I/O practitioners end up with test designs that are pretty similar.

The success or failure of selection systems in healthcare organizations, particularly, rarely depends on the test, itself. Now – if you choose some generic personality test not designed for healthcare, or for selection, you’ve limited your chances of success. The most important variables, though, are HOW you use the tools, how you position them to solve your unique problems, how you educate your organization, and how you continue to refine the selection system over time as your needs change. This requires expertise beyond test building, administration, and interpretation. It requires knowledge of healthcare and HR and the unique challenges of HR in healthcare! Over and over again, clients tell us that’s why they choose us.

A prospective client recently asked us to differentiate ourselves from a specific competitor they are considering. I’m familiar with them and listed our strengths and politely pointed out what we’ve heard from clients who have switched from their solutions to ours. Just for fun, though, I went on Glassdoor to see what that company’s own employees say about them. I was a bit stunned but what I saw confirmed what we’ve heard from clients. Here are actual quotes from Glassdoor – about a reasonably well-known company who does a lot of work in healthcare:

  • “No real HR experience, just big picture so sometimes it's hard to help clients with real problems they face.”
  • “We need true I.O. psychologists who understand this industry and could validate our assessments.”
  • “The research team has almost no industry experience --hopefully we can get in some higher caliber researchers with a broader perspective.”
  • “They are out of touch with what real HR employees experience on a day-to-day basis.”

Every company has some negative comments from current or former employees on this sort of site. I can pretty much GUARANTEE you, though, that you won’t see comments along these lines about the Healthcare Solutions team at Select.

We’ve been in the assessment business for twenty years but when healthcare organizations started looking for more progressive and effective approaches to assessment and selection, we built our entire model around knowing the unique needs of healthcare. Our team includes people with deep healthcare operations and HR expertise and experience. Our consultants are all I/O psychologists who’ve spent their careers helping clients solve problems. The head of our research and development team used to lead our healthcare team. You think he understands how to build tools meet our needs?

I’m comfortable putting anyone from our team in front of your senior leaders to educate them on how our approach can support your goals – because we know what keeps you up at night and know what works and what doesn’t.

If you are considering assessment vendors, here’s what I’d suggest you ask:

  1. Is the test in question the only solution they offer? If it is, they’ll spend a great deal of time trying to convince you that their one tool works for all situations and all industries.
  1. Do they have, not only validation evidence, but a real understanding of validation, predictability, and legal defensibility? Every test vendor will show you a validation study. When was it performed? Who performed it? How long ago? Do they have the capability to perform a new, local validation study for you? Do they recommend it? Why or why not?
  1. Who built the test? The vendor? Are they just a reseller with no real expertise? Who will you call when you have a question?
  1. Do they make unrealistic claims? Sure, we have clients whose HCAHPS scores have gone up after implementing our solutions, but we don’t try to take all of the credit. We know how many initiatives go into the patient experience. The same thing is true of turnover – it’s complicated. Anyone who tells you they have the silver bullet is overstating their value.
  1. Most importantly, probe their expertise of the unique challenges faced by HR in healthcare. Can they give you guidance on the best way to configure and position the tools for success? Can they point out the potential barriers to successful implementation and how they’ve addressed them in the past? Can they communicate to your senior leaders why the approach aligns with broader goals? Are they capable of having discussions about unique solutions, or are they just trying to convince you that their one tool is the right one for you – you know, the same tool used to evaluate football players at the NFL combine, or used to figure out if you are a good sales person, or merely asks you if you are introverted can magically predict if you’ll be a good nurse?

There are good tools out there. I may be biased but I’m sure ours are a bit better. I’m VERY sure that we have the expertise to help you, though – and that’s what we enjoy about our work, particularly in healthcare where we appreciate how important your mission is!

To learn more about using progressive selection strategies in healthcare, download our free whitepaper:

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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.