Data Insights

What is the ROI from staff professional development?

MGMA Stat

Professional Development

Culture & Engagement

Debbie Darby MBA, FACMPE
The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders: Where do you most see the ROI with professional development?  In response, 34% answered “staff retention,” while 29% remarked “staff morale,” 24% chose “job competence,” 9% indicated “patient satisfaction” and 4% responded “other.” Respondents who answered “other” were asked to elaborate on their answers.
They stated:
  • I believe that all of the options are equal in the ROI.
  • Each plays a key role.
 
This poll was conducted on September 10, 2019, with 753 applicable responses.
 
Medical staff are typically required by their licensing boards to complete continuing education. But what about the nonclinical members of the healthcare workforce? They are responsible for workflows that are also part of the patient experience, which are becoming more complex thanks to the need to collect more data for quality measures mandated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Sometimes, nonclinical staff interact with patients as much as clinical personnel, which is why it’s vital to ensure that employees recognize their importance to the organization. However, professional development doesn’t have to take place outside the practice. It can be done internally through ongoing education provided by the practice. These processes enhance communication and ultimately influence employees’ opinions of their workplace. What employees convey to the patient population is a product of how they personally feel about the organization. That return on investment will be obvious in more ways than one.
 

Job competence

Today, there are so many complexities involved in the patient in-take process. While technology has afforded many opportunities that haven’t existed in healthcare until now, it has also significantly impacted workflows. This has resulted in variances in reimbursement, specifically with Medicare, which translates into more training than ever before. It’s extremely important to provide effective training using a structured format to ensure that all employees feel competent. Ongoing training is also necessary because, as healthcare continues to stress value over volume, the type of data and systems needed to collect that data will change as well. When employees have access to training, it can serve as a strong motivational tool to help them feel as though they are contributing to the organization
 

Staff morale and retention

Consider the airline industry, which is continually fraught with dissatisfaction issues. Yet, Southwest Airlines has consistently been profitable for more than 40 years, has less than 10% voluntary turnover, has the lowest number of customer complaints and the majority of its employees have reported that they are proud of their company. What’s the secret? Southwest believes that happy employees mean happy customers.
That theory can be applied to every industry, including healthcare, because every industry needs customers. How do you make employees happy? Treat them as you would like to be treated. Support leaders who cultivate other leaders - who want to help the organization achieve its goals.  When employees are treated as though they matter, they stay. When good employees stay, morale is elevated and production increases. Also, time spent on continually training new employees is counterproductive, so you’re better off focusing on retention. That will help to define your organization’s culture. When culture is bad, it’s toxic. But when it’s good, it can help you attract and retain good employees.  
 

Patient satisfaction

Fully engaged employees enjoy their jobs and patients will recognize that. It helps to enhance the perception of the quality of care that is rendered. Patients are more likely to refer others to a practice where they are treated well by providers and staff members. Measuring patient and employee satisfaction can go a long way in determining where deficits exist as well.
 
That said, according to the 2019 MGMA DataDive Practice Operations data set, practices typically conduct employee and provider satisfaction surveys annually or less frequently, and some practices don’t ever conduct them.

*If you are having trouble viewing these tables on your mobile device, please turn your mobile device horizontal*
 
Employee satisfaction survey frequency
  Annually Less than
once a year
Never
Primary care
specialties
62.83% 26.87% 4.24%
Nonsurgical
specialties
65.93% 23.53% 5.39%
Surgical 
specialties
51.08% 31.69% 11.08%
 
Provider satisfaction survey frequency
  Annually Less than
once a year
Never
Primary care
specialties
58.79% 25.66% 11.72%
Nonsurgical
specialties
61.27% 22.06% 14.71%
Surgical 
specialties
48.62% 29.23% 19.08%

*If you are having trouble viewing these tables on your mobile device, please turn your mobile device horizontal*
 
As important as patient feedback is, employee feedback can be just as significant. The ultimate return will be an environment that retains patients and employees alike.
 

Sources


Would you like to join our polling panel to voice your opinion on important practice management topics? MGMA Stat is a national poll that addresses practice management issues, the impact of new legislation and related topics. Participation is open to all healthcare leaders. Results of other polls and information on how to participate in MGMA Stat are available at: mgma.com/stat

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About the Author

Debbie Darby MBA, FACMPE
Chief Operating Officer Bone & Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge, Inc

Debbie Darby, MBA, CMPE, is certified as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and has worked in the orthopedic surgery setting for 30 years. She oversees the daily operations of a mid-sized clinic with 16 physician providers and more than 120 employees.

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