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Halifax Health

Consistently topping rankings for its medical specialties, leadership at Halifax Health wanted to improve the organization’s overall culture in order to provide an equally top-notch patient experience.



Consistently topping rankings for its medical specialties, leadership at Halifax Health wanted to improve the organization’s overall culture in order to provide an equally top-notch patient experience. Collaborating with Disney Institute, Halifax Health developed a service framework and reorientation program to improve employee engagement and ultimately the patient experience, involving everyone from the CEO to frontline staff.

Cultural Shift

Halifax Health is the greater Daytona Beach, Fla. area’s largest healthcare provider, and includes a tertiary and community hospital with 678 licensed beds and more than 500 physicians representing 46 medical specialties. Halifax Health also offers psychiatric services, four cancer treatment centers, and the area’s largest hospice organization.

With a robust network of employees serving the region, Halifax Health leadership knew it would need a unique approach to excite employees across the organization and ultimately increase its HCAHPS scores. Previous attempts to engage employees and improve patient service centered on a top-down, lecture-style curriculum that didn’t resonate strongly enough with employees.

"Our approach needed to be a sustainable culture change, beginning with how we treated each other," said Ann Martorano, chief marketing/human resources officer for Halifax Health. "Disney Institute helped us understand the need for this to be a grassroots program, a departure from past initiatives that proved not to have lasting effects."

The Transformation

Halifax Health engaged Disney Institute to help the organization develop a comprehensive approach that would guide and support its cultural transformation.Throughout the process, Halifax Health’s senior and mid-level leaders, along with more than 70 frontline employees, were immersed in Disney’s approach to leadership and customer service. As a component of the initiative both company leaders and team members (Halifax Health-speak for employees) created team member-led work groups.

Under the direction of a Halifax Health employee "Change Champion," who served as a conduit of information to and from the Core Team, the work groups reached out to a larger set of stakeholders for ideas and feedback to create a truly inclusive, employee-driven service framework for Halifax Health.

Before launching a new reorientation program, Halifax Health provided an interactive session to educate managers and improve management’s skills around coaching and recognition. Approximately 200 supervisors, managers, charge nurses, and other team leaders attended.

After laying the groundwork, Halifax Health launched its new reorientation program, "Cornerstone," encouraging team members to renew their commitment to providing exceptional service. Led by frontline team members and organization leaders, Cornerstone reached over 99 percent of actively employed staff within the first 30 days.

During the reorientation process, Halifax Health CEO Jeff Feasel discovered many employees had not seen a HCAHPS survey. As a result, Jeff made it a point to make sure every employee received a copy in order to understand how the organization is measured and performs. Additionally, an internal HCAHPS committee was established to identify other ways to improve patient satisfaction and foster an emotional connection between employees, patients, and visitors.

Sustaining Service

The grassroots, all-encompassing nature of the Cornerstone initiative is proving to have a lasting impact and touching all areas of the organization. From the surgical team to environmental services to IT, everyone is engaged and identifying ways to adapt the Disney approach to improve both internal and external service experiences.

For example, an Environmental Services manager took a lesson from training and implemented "What Have You Heard Lately"– a way for his team to share feedback from employees, patients, and visitors. Team members can then use this feedback to proactively and positively impact the experience of patients and other employees.

"We improved our ability to effectively communicate, motivate, and hold ourselves accountable," said Ann Martorano. "If we’re able to provide exceptional service to each other, we are able to deliver exceptional service to our patients."

Looking to engage new team members early, Halifax Health conducts a full-scale employee orientation every two weeks, instilling its internal and external service standards to new hires.

To continue evolving its new approach, Halifax Health will benchmark the correlation between its employee engagement and leadership assessment survey scores with patient experience data reported by HCAHPS.

The results from Halifax Health’s 2013 employee engagement assessment are showing positive year-over-year results. Notably, the results show an increase in job satisfaction from 63 to 78 percent, with 75 percent of employees feeling good about their workdays when they go home – up from 57 percent previously. The results also show that employees feel closer to their supervisors, with 77 percent saying their supervisor values the job they do, and 82 percent feeling their supervisor is open to staff suggestions.

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