NIH Clinical Center

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Organizational Effectiveness and Efficiency Initiatives: Clinical Center Profile 2002


Strategic Planning. The Department of Health and Human Services commissioned an external review of the Clinical Center’s operations in 1996. One of the major recommendations resulting from the review effort was for the Center to engage in strategic planning. Each year since that review the Center has conducted a thorough environmental assessment of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It has also instituted a formal, ongoing strategic planning process that has increased emphasis on maximizing performance, enhancing customer satisfaction and producing results. Goals established in an annual Clinical Center Strategic and Operating Plan represent the highest priority concerns facing the Center and provide a framework that guides how the Center’s work is carried out. Continuous reassessment of goals and strategies and an associated update of the strategic plan ensure that the Center’s focus remains relevant, timely and responsive to the priorities facing the NIH Institutes, and consequently the Clinical Center.

Customer Service. The Clinical Center identified customer service as a key initiative in the 2001 Strategic and Operational Plan. The impetus for this initiative was led by the Patient Advisory Group who expressed concern over variable patient and family experiences with the Clinical Center. The Board of Governors identified this direction as critical to sustained success in recruiting patients. Other factors, such as the increased use of Internet communications, patient self-referral and plans for a new Clinical Research Center, increased the momentum for this initiative. The Office of Planning and Organizational Development led the customer service effort with the implementation of training for employees, supervisors and executive leadership. In 2001, 1,300 employees and supervisors completed customer service training. A critical aspect of this training was the opportunity for employees to identify what they saw as barriers to offering the best patient and internal customer service. This feedback was presented to management and used to direct initial areas in need of priority improvement. Future plans call for training clinicians and surveying patients and employees to sustain improvement efforts and measures.

Clinical Staff Recruitment. NIH and the Department of Health and Human Services approved Title 42 Clinical Research Service (CRS), a new alternative personnel system for the clinical and clinical research support staffs, last year. The new system’s goals were effective staffing through timely recruitment and retention of highly qualified employees; flexible and efficient administrative processes responsive to changing program needs and labor market conditions; performance management and incentive systems that motivate and develop employees to support organizational goals; and a diverse workforce. In July 2001, the Clinical Center began hiring nurses and allied health specialists with Title 42 CRS appointment and pay authorities. Starting in November, current Center employees could convert to Title 42 CRS. By the end of April 2002, the Center had 228 employees or 16 percent of its eligible workforce under Title 42 CRS. These employees represented 21 occupations located in 14 departments. They included 154 new hires, 80 of who were nurses, and 88 converting employees, 55 of who were nurses. The Title 42 CRS nursing float pool, delayed due to Health and Human Services’ payroll system changes, is slated to be operational in 2002. The new Title 42 CRS system has significantly reduced hiring time and increased the number of applications forwarded to managers. Title 42 CRS is particularly useful in filling specialized positions and has enabled the Center to mitigate the impact of the national nursing shortage.

Quality of Worklife. The Clinical Center Quality of Worklife Initiative Council is an employee advocacy/advisory group that was established to help the Center staff learn more about resources and opportunities that may better help them balance work and personal needs. It has existed for several years and in 2001 was highlighted as a key organizational resource. The Council has helped the Center catalyze efforts to promote an inclusive workforce culture that embraces the awareness of and sensitivity to employee worklife and diversity. The Council is devoted to implementing successful diversity programs that educate, train and inform employees. The Quality of Worklife Initiative had several accomplishments last year related to improved cafeteria services, improved healthy food vending machines, improved onsite postal facilities, and improved child care services.

Pie chart shows makeup of Clinical Center by job type (Nurses: 33%, Health Prof: 21%, All other 6 types: 46%)

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