What is the Best Measurement of Work Performance?

Michele Warg
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Measuring performance is important in any field. Getting an accurate assessment of your employees' work performance is one of the best ways to determine who is adding value to the company. The special requirements of a healthcare provider impose their own obligation, however, as your work performance bears directly on your patient's quality of life. Indeed, your work performance often means the difference between life and death, which brings a special urgency to measuring performance. Numbers can sometimes be misleading; before making any decisions about the workforce, it's important to be sure you're using the right metric for gauging the work performance of practitioners in the field.

There are several ways to measure work performance among healthcare workers. One of the more obvious methods is a survey. Often, just asking patients to rate the care they received is enough to build up a picture of their experiences. Certain market research companies—notably Field Research—have come to occupy this niche. They typically contact the patient within a few months of discharge, usually from the hospital, and ask for a simple numeric rating of the experience in areas as diverse as perceived concern, rapid response to inquiries, and even the quality of food that was served.

Patient surveys aren't the only way to determine work performance of course. Another way is to assess the raw data generated by a patient's contact with the healthcare system. Just about every interaction between a healthcare worker and a member of the general public results in some kind of documentation. From looking into the office notes of a physician to the work log of a home healthcare nurse to the patient care report filled out by paramedics after every dispatch, it's possible to build up a picture of that one patient's entire journey through the system from the initial contact with EMTs, through the hospital, and into subacute or hospice care. The great advantage of this approach is that it removes, as far as possible, any subjectivity that might affect a patient's self-reporting.

Still another aspect of a healthcare worker's work performance is outside of what would strictly be called patient care. Often, the quality of care provided to patients can be inferred from factors as simple as the cleanliness of the work space. Cluttered or dingy surfaces, disorganized supplies, and lax hygiene rules might seem tangential to direct work performance but often telegraph the sort of culture that prevails at a care facility.

Healthcare is such a broad field, with so many active disciplines, that it's easy to despair of settling on a single best way to judge results. Fortunately, the field is also full of smart, talented people who are motivated to find answers to the important questions. With multiple overlapping methods for assessing healthcare workers' work performance, a comprehensive picture can be built up to identify challenges and single out high performers.

(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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