Memorial Hospital and Health System, located in South Bend, Ind., is one of the premier cardiovascular and orthopedic hospitals in the United States. Memorial’s focus is on innovation as a way of doing business. With 3,200 employees, getting the message of innovation across is a difficult task, and Memorial recently began to use online business skills training from Ninth House Inc. to help all of its employees learn to think outside of the box.
According to Steve Leonard, vice president and chief human resources officer for Memorial, training at Memorial is intended to create an optimal service environment for all of its customers and visitors. “We want the Memorial experience—for our patients, for our visitors, for our physicians, for our employees—to be one that results in high satisfaction,” said Leonard. “It’s about customer service, but it’s also about feeling a part of Memorial—every employee feeling like they’re a valued contributing member of this organization.”
According to Leonard, Memorial’s world-class service culture is based on “Six Pillars of Excellence”: world-class quality, world-class service, world-class people, financial, growth and innovation, and community. “What we do is build our entire culture around those six pillars,” said Leonard, “and beginning from the interview process—not just from new-hire orientation, but in the interviewing, in the screening process—we train our HR staff to identify employees who buy into our culture, who want to provide the Memorial experience.”
To reach its employees with this message, Memorial employs several training methodologies, said Leonard. Staff development initiatives begin with new-hire orientation, which consists of “welcoming employees into our organization and letting them know about our culture as well as orienting them to what they need to know about the organization from an operational perspective,” said Leonard.
Memorial also has a nursing education department, which handles much of the clinical education, in addition to nursing education and support staff education. In addition, Memorial offers leadership development.
The biggest challenge, according to Leonard, is getting the employees engaged and letting them know that they make the difference in providing an optimal experience for patients, visitors and others who work with Memorial. “They’re the ones—the nurse who greets the patient in the morning, the nursing assistant, the housekeeper, the person in the cafeteria—they have a huge impact on the satisfaction of those who we are privileged to serve,” said Leonard.
Memorial considers innovation a required core competency in its employees, along with quality improvement and customer service, and it turned to Ninth House to deliver that message via business skills training. Memorial’s Ninth House pilot began with around 35 Memorial Home Care Division employees, executives and vice presidents, and since then they have added an additional 500 seats, delivering learning to around 270 hospital employees working for various divisions. Leonard credits the Ninth House program for educating Memorial’s leaders and helping them deliver excellent customer service. He sees results, he said in high rankings for patient satisfaction as well as high employee satisfaction.
“It’s been a great asset to help us provide world-class service and world-class quality through world-class people, and also to do than in an innovative, creative, ‘wow’ kind of way,” said Leonard. “We encourage people to be creative, to be innovative. That’s just the culture here.”
Memorial measures the success of its learning programs based on basic satisfaction surveys, according to Leonard. “Several of our departments are at the 99th percentile in the country in patient satisfaction,” he said. “We have some of the highest patient satisfaction in the country, so it’s quantified.”
Leonard states that Memorial takes this measurement further by allowing employees to rate certain departments, such as human resources and financial services. “Employees can go on the company-based intranet and rate the quality of service they receive from fiscal services or human resources or medical records,” said Leonard. “And we track it, and we celebrate our successes. We have a lot of celebrations, hoopla—we reward and recognize employees every chance we get.”
Phil Newbold, president of Memorial, states that online training has given Memorial the necessary tools to help employees innovate. Newbold also states that Memorial is saving costs while providing its employees with access to some of the best business thinkers around. Leonard credits the success of Memorial to this high-level support from Newbold.
“Creating a culture of world-class service, growth and innovation and learning is supported at the very top of the organization by our president Phil Newbold,” said Leonard, “and when there’s that commitment at the top, that is a critical factor for being successful. …I think that’s what really makes a difference here is that our leaders are engaged and active—not just giving lip service to the cultural and organizational development strategies—they’re living it.”
While the current focus at Memorial is using innovation as a strategic business advantage and creating the optimal Memorial experience, Leonard reports that Memorial will continue to develop its workforce through a new department called “Organizational Effectiveness.”
“It takes a little different spin on organizational development,” he said, “but basically what it looks to do is align our cultural development and our workforce development—meaning staff development as well as leadership development. And it strives to meld all of that so the organization achieves its operational and strategic objectives.”