Leadership: Board, Employee and Community Engagement

Hospital Best Practices and Recommended Strategies

Board Members should view this six-part educational video series, Visionary Board Leadership and the Transition to Value, which focuses on developing systems thinking and visionary leadership skills as keys to thriving in the changing health care landscape. Each module includes three parts: 1) educational content from subject matter experts, including interviews with rural hospital board members and CEOs sharing best practices and words of wisdom; 2) discussion questions for boards to consider how module topics apply to their organization and community; and 3) suggested activities for boards to put best practices into action.

The tools and best practices below help leaders to build a quality-focused culture, engage the Board of Directors and hospital staff and enhance community outreach efforts.

Leadership Tools

Use the below leadership tools and apply the best practices to improve governance and employee satisfaction, build internal capacity for population health and increase department accountability.

  • Board Members should view this six-part educational video series, Visionary Board Leadership and the Transition to Value, which focuses on developing systems thinking and visionary leadership skills as keys to thriving in the changing health care landscape.
  • Mid-level managers play a unique role in the transition to value and serve as a critical link between senior hospital leadership and front-line staff. Listen to and share the six-part Managing from the Middle: Leading Through Change podcast series designed for rural hospital mid-level management. Learn best practices for leading through the transition to value and population health.
  • Use Rural Health Value’s Governance & Leadership tools to develop and implement strategies that high-performing hospitals utilize to deliver value-based care.
  • Apply recommendations from the Rural Hospital Quality Leadership Summit Report to engage the Board of Directors, physicians and front-line staff.
  • Align Leadership on the Rural Road to Value tools and trainings to examine and clarify roles for achieving performance excellence during the transition to value-based models
  • Perform daily leadership rounding to assess and create a performance excellence culture through feedback on needs, development, improvement and employee recognition.
    • Begin daily rounding on all admissions and include the executive team in leadership rounding.
    • Track and trend feedback from rounding and information as a tool to improve performance.
    • Use CMS’s Leadership Rounding Guide to support the implementation of leadership rounding. While the tool is designed for nursing homes, the questions and process are directly applicable to hospitals. Google leadership rounding – many resources are available.

Board of Directors Engagement

Apply the best practices to engage the Board of Directors (BOD) and build awareness of industry changes to support the hospital/network in preparing for population health

  • Hold regular leadership and planning retreats with BOD and physicians
  • Use the Engaging Your Board and Community in Value-Based Care Conversation Guide to facilitate discussions with the BOD on health industry changes to prepare them for the transition to alternative payment models and population health management
  • Educate BOD, physicians and hospital staff on how patient satisfaction and quality of care impacts the hospital’s reimbursement and its future value
  • Build awareness with BOD, physicians and hospital staff that quality and patient satisfaction information for the hospital is readily available online and easily accessible to the public through Hospital Compare and/or other online sources
  • Educate BOD, physicians and hospital staff about Hospital Compare and share how it provides consumers with an Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating that summarizes existing publicly reported quality measures into a single score for each hospital to allow patients and their families to compare quality of care among various hospitals of their choice
  • Build a greater understanding with BOD and physicians about the information associated with the distribution of the overall hospital quality rating
  • Use the Network Leadership training tools to support board development and prepare for participation in a network or other affiliation strategy with other providers

Employee Engagement

Apply the below best practices to improve employee satisfaction, build internal capacity for population health and increase department accountability.

  • Educate staff about their role in “marketing” the hospital’s services to the community and provide staff with ongoing education on customer service, patient satisfaction, and patient and family engagement techniques
  • Build awareness with frontline staff that quality is everyone’s job and explain how quality is tied to value of the organization and its future
  • Build awareness with managers on their departments’ impact the organization’s mission
  • Create a customer service hospital committee with department representatives
  • Provide monthly education to hospital staff to build internal capacity to prepare for population health
  • Conduct annual employee satisfaction surveys and share feedback from findings, and follow through on actions
  • Build stronger relationships with staff by hosting team building activities, such as special luncheons
  • Create an employee recognition program that is tied to patient experience to support and reinforce the hospital brand
  • Implement an employee recognition program to provide incentives for accomplishments
  • Identify staff with leadership potential and begin grooming for leadership role prior to vacancy
  • Identify leadership needs for improvement and create a clear expectation of development to “Coach up or out”
  • Eliminate positions that are no longer supported by census rather than continuing to call off staff
  • Consider needed skillsets when interviewing and hiring rather than just automatically replacing a position
  • Build department accountability by involving managers in departmental budget preparation and ongoing monthly revenue and expense variance reporting
  • Hold departments accountable by pushing responsibilities down to directors and managers
  • Support employees through change management

Community Outreach

Engage patients and families and build customer loyalty by deploying the below community outreach activities

  • Apply the best practice tools from Agency for Healthcare Research to Get Started with Engaging Patients and Families
  • Promote and market quality of care as demonstrated through high patient satisfaction and quality scores to the community
  • Build customer loyalty and awareness of available services through ongoing promotion of high patient satisfaction scores
  • Post quality scores in the hallway and key traffic areas of hospitals for patients, customers and staff to promote quality of care
  • Educate patients and their families on option to request local rehabilitation and swing bed services when they are transferred to other hospitals for care, so they are aware of and able to obtain, locally available services
  • Tell 'our story' and be creative in messaging beyond newspaper, radio, social media and website
  • Provide speakers for community functions and have a strong presence in the community
  • Educate community of changes in health care with emphasis on the future of population health
  • Communicate proactively with the community to build awareness of changes, including those that might be perceived as negative, such as the hospital doing more upfront collections
  • Market services to area providers, nursing homes and employers on a frequent basis to further support community outreach
  • Conduct frequent outreach to area providers to further promote services and ensure strong customer service

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,560,000 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.