Presents a case study analyzing UnityPoint Health’s [UPH] efforts in developing frontline workers for its Des Moines hospitals and clinics in response to the transformation of healthcare design resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“UPH [developed] this [Health Strategic Three-Year Road, p. 7] infrastructure prior to the ACA [Affordable Care Act], working in partnership with other health care employers in the region to respond to high turnover in critical frontline positions, as well as a lack of frontline workers prepared to enter supervisory and managerial roles. In response, UPH made investment in frontline staff development a priority as demonstrated by:

  • Implementing workforce planning and analytics processes to better understand the state of its workforce and potential retirement, turnover, or engagement risks
  • Creating a full-time Retention Specialist role to coach workers in areas of high turnover, such as housekeeping and dietary, in career development and preparation for further education, and to help remove barriers to advancement
  • Offering a program to nurture supervisory talent, ‘Breakthrough to Leadership,’ which has trained 67 candidates, with over half receiving promotions
  • Creating a Workforce Training Academy, in partnership with other area health care employers and educators, for direct care and allied health positions, with career ladders keyed to specific competencies and occupations.

UPH [is] intentional about developing its workforce and providing opportunities for improving skills and career prospects. It is also deliberate about communicating the importance of every individual’s job to meeting business objectives. UPH employees are asked from their first day on the job to look at their job in the light of quality of care measures, and their effects on the organization’s financial health and on achieving the ultimate bottom line—‘best outcome for every patient, every time.’

In addition to understanding one’s role in meeting UPH’s business objectives, staff must meet rising expectations for skill and job performance—especially when assisting patient transitions. All staff—including dietary and central supply technicians—requires higher technology skills” (p. viii).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Connecting the Dots: A Case Study of Transforming Care and the Frontline Workforce at UnityPoint Health-Des Moines

Major Findings & Recommendations

“UPH-Des Moines has not fully connected the dots between transforming care and building the workforce necessary to do so. One challenge has been identifying the right methods and level of education to ensure that employees understand how their jobs have become financially significant. Another is defining the right tasks and competencies, and the right mix of staff, to achieve new standards of delivering care—especially when the bulk of care will occur outside the hospital. In response, UPH has been conducting a workforce planning process that encompasses hospital, clinic, and home care labor demand, and focuses on the highest-turnover positions, including nurses and certified medical assistants. Of special importance is defining the right mix of skills for non-licensed direct care workers in all of these settings. Also critical to workforce planning is the emerging set of roles associated with coordinating care and assisting patients with care transitions and health promotion. [Also] UPH-Des Moines is already seeing positive returns on investment for its efforts to link improved care to a strengthened workforce. Patient satisfaction scores have been trending upward since the creation and hiring of the Retention Specialist position. Turnover in the departments served by the Retention Specialist has fallen below 20 percent, generating an estimated savings of $97,500.” (p. viii) “The following lessons are directed to practitioners in workforce and human resource development in health care; their partners in postsecondary education, workforce intermediary organizations, and the public workforce system; and private and public funders of workforce and education” (p.23). • “Prepare for transforming care delivery by building and maintaining an infrastructure to support investment in frontline workforce development…. • Build the case for frontline workforce investment through collection, analysis, and communication of evidence…. • Fully integrate workforce planning and development with organizational strategies for care transformation and financial success” (p. 24). (Abstractor: Author)