How Work Environment Metrics Can Improve Healthcare Performance

Presentation by Graham Lowe, to the Health System Performance Research Network, University of Toronto. 17 March 2010
This presentation outlines a comprehensive framework for assessing, reporting and improving the quality of work environments in healthcare organizations in Ontario and across Canada. Drawing on evidence showing that healthy work environments (HWE) contribute to positive outcomes for healthcare employees and physicians, the same HWE ingredients also can reduce operating costs, improve human resource utilization, and ultimately support higher quality patient care. The presentation offers a blueprint for how health system employers, governments, quality agencies and professional associations can implement cost-effective and sustainable HWE metrics. A common measurement tool and reporting framework will enable managers and policy makers to use HWE ingredients as levers to improve organizational performance. The benefits flowing from a common healthy work-environment measurement and reporting system should convince stakeholders to reach consensus on HWE metrics and overcome the pitfalls of : indicator-itis that beset other health system performance metrics. Moving down this path requires the active involvement of stakeholders in developing a core set of common metrics, integrating these metrics into existing measurement and reporting systems, building in managerial accountability for work environment quality, and supporting on-going improvements at the front-lines of care and service delivery.
HSPRN presentation