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How Cleveland Clinic Engaged Its Employees and Transformed the Patient Experience

How Cleveland Clinic Engaged Its Employees and Transformed the Patient Experience

by Jeff Durr

Cleveland Clinic Chief Experience Officer James I. Merlino and Harvard Business School professor Ananth Raman offer in this month's issue of the Harvard Business Review an in-depth look at how Cleveland Clinic transformed its culture to improve the patient experience. Cleveland Clinic is renowned for providing world-class medical care, but over the past few years, the hospital's leadership has also wanted the institution to be known for providing excellent patient care. Cleveland Clinic leaders took action to effect change and the results of the transformation are staggering. In the last five years, Cleveland Clinic has jumped from the 55th percentile to the 92nd percentile in overall patient satisfaction among roughly 4,600 hospitals according to a U.S. government survey.

While Cleveland Clinic's leadership took many bold steps to improve the patient experience as outlined in the HBR article, some of these initiatives focused on creating an engaged workforce, such as the following examples.

  • Hospital leadership had all 43,000 employees gather in small groups of eight to 10 people for a half-day exercise with trained facilitators. These diverse groups had employees with very different jobs, e.g., a surgeon could be sitting next to a housekeeper exchanging stories and new ideas about putting patient care first. This exercise helped all employees understand their roles as caregivers.
  • Cleveland Clinic created a "caregiver celebration" program, which gave employees an opportunity to recognize those who have delivered exceptional patient care or who have made other important contributions to the organization. This recognition program also included monetary awards.
  • The executive team required managers to attend day-long training sessions every quarter to learn strategies for keeping their workgroups actively engaged.
  • Managers were required to submit an annual plan with specific ideas for how they would improve employee engagement on their team.

These initiatives to create a culture of engagement, combined with other important strategies, helped Cleveland Clinic significantly improve their levels of employee engagement compared to other healthcare organizations Gallup has studied.

To read more about how Cleveland Clinic transformed their culture to improve employee engagement and patient satisfaction, read "Health Care's Service Fanatics" in the Harvard Business Review.

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