Performance improvement can be defined as the process of measuring the output of a particular business process or procedure and then modify the process or procedure to increase the output, efficiency, or the effectiveness of the process or procedure. Hence, from this definition, we can say that Hospital Performance Improvement is the routine measurement of output and systems in the healthcare organization in order to improve clinical outcomes and patient experiences while reducing costs. There are performance improvement processes and plans carried out in healthcare organizations regularly. This is usually called a performance improvement plan (PIP).
Experience has shown that the major reason why hospital performance improvement initiatives tend to fail in the healthcare industry is because most hospitals see it as a one-off event with a set start and beginning as opposed to it being an interconnected process of various projects all working in tandem and each feeding from and improving on the other in continuous momentum. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure the successful implementation of a performance improvement plan or program in a hospital. Some of these steps are listed below.
Document Performance Issues
The first step in making a performance improvement plan is documenting the areas of performance that needs improvement. This documentation must be accurate, objective and free from sentiment. The documentation should also be standard and uniform across all employees for transparency purposes and to eliminate any suspicion of bias. The format of a performance improvement plan documentation varies from organization to organization but the standard should include the following components:
- Employee information.
- Relevant dates.
- Description of performance discrepancy or gap.
- Description of expected performance.
- Description of actual performance.
- Description of consequences.
- Plan of action.
- Signatures of the manager and the employee.
- Evaluation of the plan of action and overall performance improvement plan.
Develop an Action Plan
The next step is developing an action plan which is best done when it’s in collaboration with employees. Having employee input in developing the action plan increases the chances of having a successful action plan. The action plan should be specific, measurable, accurate and time-bound (SMART). The action plan should set performance expectations and the consequences of not reaching those goals. Though it is important for a plan to be flexible, it is very important that the consequences of not reaching a goal are not purely on paper. If the plan is not carried out to the tee including punishment for not reaching goals, it will weaken the validity of the plan and undermine the performance improvement process.
Review the Performance Plan
Before presenting the performance improvement plan to employees, the team putting it together should ensure that the plan is properly reviewed by preferably a third party to check for bias, sentiments, and discrepancies. This is important because once the plan has been put in motion or shred with employees, it becomes hard to make changes and any changes or error might dampen the morale of the employees and put the plan in jeopardy.
Meet with Employees
Depending on the type of performance plan as well as other factors, the employees should be met one on one in private or in a group. Sometimes both are required for effectiveness. This will make them feel more seen and recognized and will make them know that their role in implementing the plan is not only needed but very crucial to its success.
Follow-up and Feedback
Regular follow-up meetings should be set in other to get feedback from the employer to the employee(top-down) and from the employee to the employer(down-up). During these meetings, the employee can express concerns about the plans, ask for clarifications or further guidance. These follow-up meetings also help ensure that the performance improvement plan has not lost momentum or direction. Also considering the important fact that a performance improvement plan should be ongoing (as mentioned above), continuous follow-up and feedback is needed so the employees or the team implementing the plan do not become complacent.