Human Capital and Your Medical Practice Staff

January 16, 2014
Rachel V. Rose, JD, MBA
Rachel V. Rose, JD, MBA

Rachel V. Rose, JD, MBA, advises clients on compliance and transactions in healthcare, cybersecurity, corporate and securities law, while representing plaintiffs in False Claims Act and Dodd-Frank whistleblower cases. She also teaches bioethics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Rachel can be reached through her website, www.rvrose.com.

Finding the right people, measuring their performance, and rewarding them, is the key to human capital optimization at your medical practice.

Building upon last week’s overview of human capital, this week, Willis North America's Angelo Scozia more closely examines how the patient and the characteristics of healthcare play into how crucial human capital is in this industry.

Rachel V. Rose:Because of the nature of healthcare and the focus on the patient, are there any unique characteristics that can assist providers in positively impacting employees?

Angelo Scozia: Here, fostering employee engagement is critical. If the employee is happy, this utility level will spill over to patients. This is where the rubber meets the road.

If human capital is viewed as a return on investment, organizations must invest in the people, behaviors, methods, and technologies that generate the biggest return. In the rapidly emerging environment of accountable care, this means that patient and employee surveys are critical. Why? Because both quantitative health outcomes, as well as qualitative, "satisfaction," metrics are being evaluated; getting arms around the data has never been more important. Then, observing who is and is not working will become clear, and investments can be allocated appropriately to augment positive results and contract or eliminate negative ones.

Because the patient is so impacted by the provider experience, in addition to investing in the right people from a compensation standpoint, providers might well benefit from investing in employee benefits that employees value. Compensation and benefits should be performance-based where it makes sense, based on the story told by the data. In addition, provide work-life balance, a frequent area of a frustration for high performing employees. High performing employees, especially in a healthcare environment, should be rewarded with adequate time off, time savers, and financial protection for life needs. These all increase the quality and quantity of their personal time, and generate better return on the time-off investment to the employer. Services such as first-class employee assistance programs (EAPs), concierge services, on-site clinics, employee discounts to the firm’s (e.g., the provider’s) own medical services, voluntary benefits for critical illnesses and accidents, group legal services, and well-vetted medical and disability insurance all apply.

Security is the basis of positive feelings, which ultimately translate to happier employees.The employer’s role in creating this for high-performing employees should not be undervalued. The more employees feel like they are respected, provided for, and valued by their employer, the better they will perform. If employers can demonstrate that employees are not commodities, but key players, employees may act less like the former. Moreover, employer-provided benefits and services free up time outside of the workplace, allowing employees a better chance of being energized, focused and hopefully happy at work.

Finding the right people, measuring their performance, and rewarding them, is the key to human capital optimization. A discussion of company culture and work environment is beyond the scope of this question, however these areas should be diligently explored and acted upon for best results. Again, return on investment!

Angelo Scozia, CEBS, is a vice president for Willis North America's Human Capital Practice. E-mail him here. NOTE: The views expressed herein are of the interviewee only and not that of Willis North America, Inc.

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