Holy Spirit Health System

Holy Spirit Health System


Holy Spirit Health System partnered with HealthStream in January 2013, to address some challenges they were experiencing with their HCAHPS scores and employee engagement. Since engaging with HealthStream, Holy Spirit has seen the following impressive improvements:

  • The "Overall" category in HCAHPS has improved nearly 25 percentile points moving it to the 69th percentile
  • The “Nurse Communication” category has increased to the 86th percentile
  • Hospital patient response has increased 3.4%
  • Staff engagement and communication has increased
  • Staff participation rose to nearly 50% at the acute-care hospital for voluntary employee forums, representing a significant cultural shift

By combining the HealthStream data, patient comments, priority analysis, our PSAT (Patient Satisfaction Action Tool) reports, and various other communication tools, we’ve been able to gain the leverage needed to effectively communicate with our staff. - Rick LaVanture, Senior Vice President/Chief Strategic Officer


Holy Spirit Health System (HSHS) is a community Catholic health system providing high-quality, cost-effective health services. Since its opening in 1963, Holy Spirit Health System has grown from a single hospital to a comprehensive, award-winning health system accessible to more than 500,000 people in six counties. The health system now includes more than 20 primary and specialty care physician offices, diagnostic outpatient centers for imaging and laboratory services, urgent care services, home healthcare services, and ambulance services. There are more than 2,500 employees and 300 volunteers across the system. The system’s flagship, Holy Spirit Hospital, is a 311-bed facility located in Camp Hill, PA. Accredited by the Joint Commission and with more than 520 physicians on its medical staff, Holy Spirit offers a comprehensive array of inpatient and outpatient services.

Although Holy Spirit Health System had been continuously striving to increase their staff’s understanding and execution of service standards, HCAHPS scores had not improved. Holy Spirit had several HCAHPS challenges, including response to patients. During a five-year period, the hospital made several attempts to sustain hourly rounding to increase the patient perception of prompt call-bell response, as well as for patient safety and reassurance. Each time, there were short-lived improvements in scores, but they were unable to be sustained. This was also true for other customer service-related initiatives that Holy Spirit implemented over the years.


Holy Spirit Health System chose HealthStream in January 2013 to help identify and develop the missing components for a service excellence program, and to help transform its culture through coaching services. A comprehensive assessment of the Holy Spirit service culture was conducted via senior leader interviews and employee surveys. Following the assessment, HealthStream assisted with forming teams to address multiple areas of need. A steering committee was created to monitor the entire process. To address the areas of need that were identified through the assessment, Holy Spirit implemented HealthStream’s Words that WorkSM. This program helps individual departments/units educate staff on the correct wording of important aspects of care or business. It’s not scripting, but it allows employees to use approved “words that work” until they feel comfortable finding their own.

Hourly Rounding was another tool that Holy Spirit initiated as part of its engagement with HealthStream. The I-CARE Program was launched to increase responsiveness and assist with the most difficult aspect of patient care—accountability. In addition to patient rounding, Holy Spirit initiated rounding on employees at all levels, with a primary focus on discovering what was and was not working, and team recognition.

Holy Spirit also provided goal-setting training from HealthStream for all of their managers. During this leadership development session, all of the managers at Holy Spirit, with the help of HealthStream coaches and other staff, learned how to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Aggressive, Realistic, and Time Bound) Goals. This training assisted leaders in tying system goals to departmental goals and weighting them according to priority.


“We have found the most successful element in moving our service culture forward has been the data and the way it enhances information sharing and communication. By combining the HealthStream data, patient comments, priority analysis, our PSAT (Patient Satisfaction Action Tool) reports, and various other communication tools, we’ve been able to gain the leverage needed to effectively communicate with our staff,” said Rick LaVanture, Holy Spirit Senior Vice President and Chief Strategic Officer. Managers have noted a large difference in employee communication. “Face-to-face communication between staff and leadership has increased the reciprocal respect needed to facilitate effective communication,” said Cindy Swartz, Intensive Care and Telemetry Director of Nursing for Holy Spirit.

Ann Mendoza, HealthStream Patient Experience coach, noted, “Holy Spirit has taken profound steps creating sustained, systematic change to engage their workforce and place the patient at the center of their work. Like every health system in America, they had to overcome competing priorities and distractions; yet they created an environment where they now consistently work to deliver care so that both employees and patients feel, see, and experience that commitment to caring. HCAHPS is about consistency—the survey responses are ‘never,’ ‘sometimes,’ ‘usually,’ and ‘always.’ To get to ‘always’ on the employee engagement or patient satisfaction survey, you have to create a consistent patient experience. That’s where they have been most successful.Another unique advantage of Holy Spirit is that they worked hard and achieved a very high level of real engagement and involvement of the frontline staff and physicians. They did this by more direct communication so everyone had a voice and knew what was happening. Their previous attempts at strengthening communication were poorly attended. Now they have some of the highest participation scores we have ever seen on employee engagement surveys and communication,” Mendoza said.

“Success did not happen by accident. Rather, success was the result of intentional and methodical alignment of their goals and daily operations and it started with their journey speech. One thing that they do at each and every meeting, every day, no matter the meeting size or attendees’ titles, is to recite together the Holy Spirit journey speech. The journey speech is also framed and signed by leadership and it hangs everywhere. I have never before seen an organization commit so strongly and so practically to the journey speech. It sets the tone for every decision, every meeting, and everything they do, and that is how they have put the patient at the center of everything,” Mendoza added.

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