Skip to content

How Children’s Mercy leverages patient sentiment feedback tools to boost caregiver recognition

When healthcare organizations commit to highlighting care teams, remarkable results can follow. Nurse-recognition programs reduce levels of burnout and help nurses derive more satisfaction while providing care. A review of 72 employee-recognition programs found that social recognition improves employee performance by 17%.

When health systems understand that patient feedback is essential for maintaining positive relationships and improving business relations, they can gain actionable insights that will help them improve their patient experience and workforce engagement.

But how can you leverage sentiment from patient-feedback tools to boost caregiver recognition?

At Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, healthcare leaders learned to leverage patient-experience feedback in this way, using NRC Health’s robust data to fuel their caregiver-recognition programs.

Amanda Montalbano, MD, MPH, FAAP, Medical Director at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, started the conversation by pointing out how devastating employee disengagement can be.

Aside from lower care standards and a decline in patient-recommend scores, disengagement can be dangerous, as disengaged clinicians experience far more safety events than their peers.

“Recognition is a stronger motivator than even a 5% salary increase,” Dr. Montalbano says. “It’s the single most effective solution for keeping clinicians engaged.”

Mandy Riemer, a Children’s Mercy patient experience specialist, explained that the organization’s strategy behind committing to its care teams included first collecting feedback from patients on their experience. The Children’s Mercy team leveraged patient feedback from NRC Health to transform the data into staff recognition, recognizing caregivers who were providing high-quality care.

“Our focus was on three things: small wins, continuous patient-experience excellence, and a sustainable effort that leads to improved scores,” Riemer says.

With that mission in mind, the team then constructed an awards program to recognize outstanding performers within Children’s Mercy. Drawing upon data from NRC Health’s solutions, the organization created three awards to celebrate their staff:

1) The Top Box Rockstar

This award was granted to providers who received top-box ratings exclusively within 30 days. Identified using data from NRC Health, winning clinicians received physical cards with hand-signed letters of congratulations.

Letters were also sent to the division directors who oversaw these rockstars, to acknowledge leadership’s role in the outcome and deliver the recognition and join in celebration. At the close of each fiscal year, a Top Box Rockstar Hall of Fame publicly highlighted the providers who have achieved this status more than half of the year.

2) The Shining Star

This award, particularly prestigious, used NRC Health data to identify the top-rated clinician within a 12-month period. As Riemer put it, “This is our People’s Choice award.”

Winners received a certificate, a lapel pin, an in-person congratulations from the CEO, and an award attached to their online profile.

3) The Rising Star

Finally, drawing upon NRC Health’s patient feedback data, this award was granted to the clinicians and units whose experience scores improved the most in a year.

Giving these award-winners a plaque, balloons, and treats helped them feel celebrated for a job well done.

The ROI on TLC

Katie Taff, MBA, MHA, CPXP, Senior Director, Office of Patient Experience at Children’s Mercy, walks through the return on investment for their recognition program with a smile. Even through a pandemic, the trend of topline results in patient feedback was unambiguously positive.

And the cost?

“We spend a total of $2,200 per year facilitating this award program, which includes all the supplies, treats, and everything,” Taff says. “It goes to show that with a little ingenuity, you can have an outsized effect on how people feel about working in your organization.”

For more on NRC Health solutions, call 800.388.4264 or visit