A health care team is usually organized under the leadership of a physician, who is supposed to guide, monitor, and evaluate the performance of each member. However, traditional methods of performance management are not quite applicable for medical institutions because some aspects of health care do not have any quantitative representation (Neeraj Kak, 4).
As the manager of such a team, I have been asked to report how my team has performed in the last eighteen months. First, I would like to mention that such a report requires the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. In my view, the validity of the information, presented in it, can be easily questioned. For instance, I may state that for some period of time (eighteen months to be more exact) our team has provided a certain number of services. The question arises whether these services have been effective or ineffective. The main problem is that the mistake of a medical worker may have far-reaching consequences. Moreover, it can become apparent in a year or even several years. This peculiarity of the health care system makes the data rather disputable.
To some extent, such a report requires evaluating the competence of each member and his or her contribution to the net result. Competence encompasses knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal qualities. Medical workers are supposed to acquire them through pre-service and job training. The primary task of a manager is to ensure that his or her subordinates are competent and suitable enough for their positions. Even if a practitioner has knowledge and skills, it does not necessarily mean that he or she will be able to use them adequately due to internal and external factors such as for instance, personality traits, unavailability of drugs, or equipment problems.
Another aspect, which I would like to discuss, is the nature of health care. People, working in this field, must improve the physical and mental state of a person. For instance, they are supposed to provide emotional support to a patient and his or her family. It seems to me such notions as “emotional support” cannot be graded by a traditional five-point scale because it can be either effective or ineffective. Furthermore, it is not easy to be supportive to all patients at all times of their emotional and physical breakdowns. As a rule, it depends on the personality of the healthcare provider. He may be particularly good in his treatment but may have an indifferent attitude even if emotional support is required.
Traditionally, performance management focuses on employees’ creativity and ability to make independent decisions but it is not always possible in the health care system, because a doctor must always follow stringent principles, and every deviation from the pattern may result in a mistake. Moreover, there are no standards, according to which one can evaluate creativity.
The question that also presents some difficulties is the evaluation on an individual level. In other words, how or in what way has each member contributed to the achievement of the assigned task? The point is that a health care team is usually viewed as a unity, and each member is an inseparable part of this complex. In the majority of cases, success depends not only on individual skills but also on coordination (Jack Zigon, 12). Thus, it is not quite possible to assess the performance and the contribution of a separate worker, irrespective of other members of this team.
Therefore, we can arrive at the following conclusions: first, some aspects of health care cannot be adequately evaluated by traditional methods of performance management, the quality of the services, provided by a medical team. Apart from that, the traditional approach does not allow to the assessment of the contribution of each member because the effective functioning of a medical unit relies not only on individual competence but also on coordination.
Neeraj Kak & Mary Ann Cooper, Issue Paper “Measuring Competencies of Healthcare Providers”.
Summary of a technical meeting “measuring provider performance, challenges and definitions”. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001. Web.
Jack Zigon, “How To Measure Team Performance” The performance management series. Web.