Enhancing Care: Integrating Patient Feedback for a Robust Employee Advocacy Program

Clarissa DeCarlo

In a bustling hospital, Ellen, a nurse practitioner, has been working extra shifts for the past month due to a staff shortage, and she’s feeling the strain both physically and emotionally. Despite the exhaustion, she continues to provide exemplary care to her patients, always with a warm smile and a reassuring word. One morning, her supervisor calls her in for an unannounced team meeting. There, Ellen is presented with a Superstar Nurse trophy, awarded to a deserving nurse based on recent patient reviews. Her supervisor starts reading out some of the glowing reviews and ratings that patients have left and lets Ellen know her name will be featured on the hospital’s website and social media channels. Ellen’s job is as challenging as ever, but she feels energized and appreciated.

Ellen’s experience is not unusual. Hospitals everywhere are figuring out that patient feedback-based recognition programs are an effective way to boost morale and improve performance at a time when hospital staff need recognition more than ever. For example, the Johns Hopkins Hospital annual Edward A. Halle Prize for Excellence in Patient Service honors an employee who exemplifies extraordinary human compassion and outstanding patient service based on patient feedback. The University of Iowa’s annual Patient Satisfaction and Service Excellence Award is based on patient feedback, and Houston Healthcare celebrates staff contributions to patient satisfaction through its Patient Experience Committee, which has a monthly recognition event where the management team acknowledges staff efforts.

These examples of employee recognition all have in common the additional credibility that comes with an honor based on direct patient feedback. And healthcare providers have good reason to uplift employees as a way to demonstrate gratitude and create positive vibes. Healthcare burnout has become so serious that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a formal initiative to tackle the problem, as nurses, physicians, and administrative personnel continue to endure the stress of a staffing shortage and the lingering stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

John Howard, MD, director of the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said, “Even before the pandemic, healthcare workers faced challenging working conditions that lead to burnout. This includes long work hours, risk for hazardous exposures, stressful work, and high administrative burdens. Hospital leaders need support to implement organizational changes. Practical adjustments can reduce burnout and strengthen professional wellbeing within their hospitals.”
Indeed, Reputation’s own research into employee sentiment (shared in our 2022 Healthcare Reputation Report) shows that sentiment for healthcare as a whole is lower than other industries. For nurses, compensation is a big concern, but so is feeling appreciated by management. This is where employee appreciation programs can help.

How Patient Feedback Can Power Employee Appreciation

Employee appreciation needs to be a year-round effort, and deserving employees should be praised publicly and awarded for these programs to really matter. Factoring patient feedback (such as ratings and reviews) into these efforts is especially valuable because patient feedback provides a valuable lens; it can be tracked and scored in real-time; and can provide powerful testimonial evidence of exceptional performance. But why wait for an annual award to honor employees? Hospitals can do a lot more all year round, for example:

Tips for Relying on Reviews for an Employee Appreciation Program

Here are some tips for doing all of this well:

Benefits of a Employee Appreciation Program

Managing an employee feedback program can and should certainly boost morale and improve employee retention. What does that stronger morale and improved retention lead to? Two specific outcomes in particular:

By actively engaging with patient reviews and using them as a tool for improvement, hospitals can create a more positive work environment which can contribute to higher staff morale and better retention rates. The Reputation healthcare team can help you with a proactive review management program.

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