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Listening to Our Nurses: Employee Insights, Data, & Safety

Listening to Our Nurses: Employee Insights, Data, & Safety

Two years ago, during National Nurses Week, former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse RaDonda Vaught was sentenced to three years of supervised probation for a fatal medication error committed in December 2017. The error involved mistakenly administering a paralyzing agent instead of a sedative to a 75-year-old patient. This case, alongside the near-contemporaneous acquittal of Ohio physician William Husel, who faced accusations of hastening the deaths of 14 critically ill patients with high doses of fentanyl, reinforced the complex and often controversial nature of handling medical errors within the healthcare system.

These tragic cases highlighted significant concerns about medical ethics, patient safety, and the appropriate role of HR best practices in supporting healthcare workers. The discrepancy in legal outcomes for similar errors in different professions — nursing versus medicine — has sparked debates about fairness and consistency in judicial responses to medical errors. Moreover, the potential impact of such high-profile cases on the willingness of healthcare professionals to report mistakes could significantly affect patient safety initiatives as well as the recruiting of nurses, a field where trained professionals are already in short supply.

I want to discuss how strategic HR interventions, powered by advanced employee technologies like the Perceptyx’s People Insights Platform, can play an important role in preventing such errors. This platform, with its robust features including crowdsourcing, AI-assisted action planning, and employee listening, offers features not just for reactive measures but for fostering a proactive culture of safety and continuous improvement. 

In the sections that follow, I’ll explore how healthcare organizations can leverage these features to enhance employee listening practices, ensuring that the voices of those on the front lines — especially nurses, given that this is National Nurses Week — are heard and acted upon.

HR Best Practices Can Play a Role in Preventing Medical Errors

Diagnostic and procedural safeguards such as electronic dispensing cabinets and multiple levels of peer review can help prevent medical errors, but these safeguards work at their absolute best when complemented by comprehensive HR and leadership support for the healthcare workforce. 

In turn, integrating these HR best practices with the capabilities of an employee listening platform can further enhance strategies to address employee engagement and improve your culture of safety.

Here’s an overview of how organizations can utilize platform features like crowdsourcing, AI-assisted action planning, and the AI Insights engine to support best practices in healthcare workforce management and error prevention.

1. Create a Proactive Error-Reporting Culture

    • Crowdsourcing Employee Feedback: Implement a crowdsourcing feature to gather confidential feedback and suggestions on improving safety protocols and error prevention methods. This can help create a culture where employees feel safe and encouraged to report potential issues without fear of repercussion.

2. Encourage Open Discussion

    • AI-Assisted Action Planning: Use the platform’s AI capabilities to generate action plans that can address safety concerns raised by employee listening events. This feature can help leaders craft appropriate, ever-evolving responses and ensure that all discussions lead to constructive outcomes and systemic improvements.

    • Structured Communication Channels: Leverage the platform’s data to establish clear, structured channels for error reporting and discussion. This can include pulse surveys and crowdsourcing to ensure that a continuous conversation at scale about safety is always underway. 

3. Develop a Communications Strategy

    • Enhanced Communication Features: Use the platform's advanced analytics and AI sentiment analysis to tailor communication strategies that address the specific concerns of different groups within your workforce. By understanding both quantitative and qualitative patterns in communication and feedback, you can enhance psychological safety and encourage more open discussions about medical errors.

4. Monitor and Continuously Improve

    • Analytics That Are Ready for Action: Platform administrators can access data on staff perceptions of trust, safety, and culture — during the flow of crowdsourcing or right after listening events like surveys conclude. Easy access to data helps you quickly identify trends and areas for improvement, allowing for swift action to enhance safety measures.

    • Survey and Feedback Analysis: Regularly utilize the platform’s survey tools to gather comprehensive feedback about the organization's culture and the effectiveness of current practices in error prevention. This ongoing employee listening is crucial for maintaining a high level of safety and respect within the organization.

How to Use a Listening Platform to Support Nursing Roles: A Deeper Dive

With those best practices and general features kept in mind, let’s focus on some specific strategies that can be employed to support the nursing workforce effectively. Here, I want to offer some suggestions for how leveraging advanced People Insights Platforms such as crowdsourcing and AI-assisted action planning can be beneficial in addressing the highly specific challenges faced by those in nursing roles. By focusing on targeted strategies like these, healthcare organizations can enhance communication, engagement, and operational efficiency, creating a safer and more supportive environment for nurses.

Understanding Nursing Hierarchy and Ensuring Language Consistency

For starters, to foster inclusivity and clear communication in healthcare settings, organizations must address the diversity within nursing roles — ranging from Registered Nurses (RNs) to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and nursing assistants. The terminology used should reflect this diversity; where specific issues apply to particular subgroups, terms like "RNs" or "APRNs" can be used. However, a general reference to "nursing roles" is recommended for broader discussions to ensure inclusivity.

Benefits of Crowdsourcing for Nursing

As it can for healthcare more broadly, crowdsourcing can enhance engagement and idea sharing among nurses, leveraging the strong in-group culture within the nursing profession. This approach is particularly helpful when HR or organizational development professionals, who may be viewed as external to the nursing group, need to gather insights and suggestions:

  • Leveraging In-group Culture: Crowdsourcing facilitates fast and genuine dialogue among nurses, helping Human Resources and Organization Development professionals quickly gain valuable insights into specific areas needing improvement.

  • Reducing Cognitive Load: By allowing nurses to vote on existing suggestions instead of always creating new ones, crowdsourcing minimizes the cognitive demands placed on nurses. This method is less time-consuming than some other forms of listening and can help mitigate burnout, making it particularly advantageous in high-stress environments.

Effective Crowdsourcing Survey Questions

To maximize the impact of crowdsourcing, the questions posed on crowdsourcing or pulse surveying listening events should resonate with nurses' daily experiences and strategic challenges:

  1. Strategic Focus: "Consider the most significant barrier you face in your nursing role at [the Organization]. What change do you think would most effectively overcome this barrier?"

  2. Tactical Focus: "Feedback from the latest Employee Experience Survey indicates low satisfaction levels with inter-departmental cooperation. As a nurse, what measures do you believe would enhance collaborative efforts across departments?"

  3. Goal Attainment: "As we aim to [insert strategic goal], what insights or concerns would you like our Chief Nursing Officer and nursing leadership to consider?"

  4. Incident Response Communication: "Following last week’s incident at [specific location], we have implemented [new measures]. Are there additional actions you feel could further support our nursing staff?"

  5. Decision Making: "As we begin the search for a new Chief Nursing Officer to succeed [current CNO's name], what qualities or priorities are most important to you in a candidate for this role?"

  6. Targeted Audience Feedback Capture: "If you have been with [the Company] for less than a year, please share any suggestions you have that could improve your integration and satisfaction with our nursing team."

Utilizing the AI Insights Engine to drive ongoing leadership responses from these crowdsourcing efforts will ensure that these leaders understand and address prevalent issues effectively. Regular action planning and ever-evolving, AI-backed follow-ups based on this feedback ensure that interventions remain relevant and impactful, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Perceptyx Can Help You Listen and Act to Support Nurses

If your employee listening program and its listening platform don’t speak to or support the strategies mentioned above, Perceptyx can help. Our consultants work with your team to ensure that you’re asking the right questions via the best listening methods — pulses for quick feedback, recurring surveys for benchmarking, safety culture surveys to understand safety perceptions specifically, and crowdsourcing to determine which changes your clinicians believe need to be made — and then the People Insights Platform helps convert these data-driven insights into a meaningful, always-updated action plan. 

To learn more about how Perceptyx can support the needs of your healthcare organization, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.

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