Hospitals and other health care facilities have committed themselves to providing innovative, high-quality and compassionate patient care that meets the competitive market’s high standard of quality. Perhaps, there is no other institution whose functions directly affect human lives and safety than hospitals. Hospitals are also answerable to a wide range of stakeholders who rely and benefit from their services. Among these stakeholders are the patients, relatives of the patients, employees, pharmacists and drug stores, and suppliers of medicines and other drugs. It is because of this reason that trust is at the heart of the image of every hospital. We trust that our hospitals will provide the best possible performance in relation to our health-care concerns.
This paper aims to discuss the ingredients of an effective performance management system in Department of Veteran Affairs Health Care System. I aim to prove that at an effective performance management system directly affects the standard of patient care. I intend to establish that the secret of improving performance of employees within the hospitals is achieving the proper balance between the available technologies and its most important asset, its people. I will present evidence that the proper management of these two important resources can lead to better and more competitive service and patient care.
II. Performance Management System in Department of Veteran Affairs
It is the goal of every organization to be able to compete in this intensely competitive market. The challenge now for these organizations is how to be able to maintain competitive edge and at the same time retain its affordability. For health care organization this has become a very daunting task. In its landmark 2001 report, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) declared the U.S. health care system to be in need of fundamental change. (Richard Sorian, 2002) Research shows that the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has estimated that nearly 80,000 Americans die each year because they do not receive evidence-based care for such conditions as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. (Sorian)
One way of ensuring that an organization like the Department of Veterans Affairs performs well and remains competitive is it should be data-driven. The importance of gathering data and evidence regarding, employee performance, current physician practices, patient’s disease, or his medical history, the level of customer satisfaction and the state of the art technology available in the market need not be emphasized.
If the Department of Veterans Affairs is determined to deliver quality health care to our veterans and provide benefits and services to veterans and their families, it has to have access to the needed data and evidence. These data and evidence will help the hospital administrators and directors make informed decisions and improve the performance of its employees. Data from within the company such as the conduct of employee performance appraisals and its availability to the management is likewise crucial for policy changes that may be implemented by the organization or for discipline improve its process.
The main problem however is that most of the data and evidence are not readily available. Some hospitals and other health care institutions still make use of the manual process involving the paper-based system. In this system, the people who take data and gather them send piles of papers to the managers and CEO’s who deal with these documents. The hospital has to consider the possibility that one of the CEOs or the managers will not be able to read these documents or one has to deal with privacy and security issues. In addition, with this primitive method hospital personnel and administrators spend so much time looking for the data and making follow up of these data from other departments that the CEO’s and managers no longer have adequate time to analyze and study these data.
Thus, an ideal performance management system for Department of Veteran Affairs is for it to adopt a system that will ensure that the data is taken either from the patient or the physician and to make these data available to the departments that need them such as the CEO, chief nurse, nurse managers and the patient care units. The use therefore of state-of-the-art technology is inevitable. There are a variety of technologies that are available in the market that can be adopted by the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Thus, an ideal performance management system in Department of Veteran Affairs is one that efficiently records data taken from the patient and the attending physician makes these data available to every department that needs them. Gathering these data and making them available will create an environment of evidence-based performance and will aid in achieving improvements in the quality of patient care, patient and employee satisfaction, physician engagement, and financial and operational performance. (Melissa A. Fitzpatrick)
In addition, an effective performance management system should also meet the requirements of both state and federal governments. One of which is that it must be able to comply with the regulations established Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). The JCAHO has helped in establishing a standard of excellence among hospitals and health care organizations. It has instilled discipline among health care organizations for them to strive to improve quality of care they provide to the public.
The most important factor is for the organization to utilize the ‘people aspect.’ Some organizations have adopted the Balanced Scorecard Methodology which is actually one of the most effective methods of encouraging every department to participate in accomplishing company goals and objectives. (Gururaj Rai) In this method, the corporate goals which are made clear and specific are communicated to every department. Each department is now given the responsibility so that it will assist in accomplishing these goals. Thus, instead of the managers doing all the tasks, each and every employee is given their assigned tasks to perform toward the accomplishment of goals and objectives.
One of the data that must be taken and be made available is the analysis of the current practices of physicians that will measure the quality of the service to the patient, the level of the customer satisfaction and the costs to the organization. The data can be used for making comparative analysis to determine what could be the best practices that will generate better customer satisfaction. Another important data is to classify patients of the hospital according to the level of risk so that the hospital could optimize the level of care among these patients. Identification of the patients who are “high-risk” by getting their medical history will help ensure that their concerns are immediately addressed. Data that will measure the company performance in relation to the performance of other organizations is also important to ensure that the company does not log behind in relation to its competitors.
Managing employee performance is an integral part of the work that all managers perform throughout the year. If the company really seeks to maximize the benefits of performance management system they should make human resource function its top priority. The key here is communication between the management and the employees. A good performance management system will lead to changes in the behavior of its employees and staff. It will create an atmosphere of respect for diversity within the organization, excellence within the organization and a high level of customer satisfaction.