BACKGROUND: The articles in the Microsystems in Health Care series have focused on the success characteristics of high-performing clinical microsystems. Realization is growing about the importance of attracting, selecting, developing, and engaging staff. By optimizing the work of all staff members and by promoting a culture where everyone matters, the microsystem can attain levels of performance not previously experienced. CASE STUDY: At Massachusetts General Hospital Downtown Associates (Boston), a primary care practice, the human resource processes are specified and predictable, from a candidate's initial contact through each staff member's orientation, performance management, and professional development. Early on, the new employee receives materials about the practice, including a practice overview, his or her typical responsibilities, the performance evaluation program, and continuous quality improvement. Ongoing training and education are supported with skill labs, special education nights, and cross-training. The performance evaluation program, used to evaluate the performance of all employees, is completed during the 90-day orientation and training, quarterly for one year, and annually. CONCLUSION: Some health care settings enjoy high morale, high quality, and high productivity, but all too often this is not the case. The case study offers an example of a microsystem that has motivated its staff and created a positive and dynamic workplace.
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