Patients’ top concerns
It is imperative that Health systems put patients at the center of all actions in order to improve the patient experience. The “soft stuff” counts to patients, and patients will continue to gauge their quality of care on their own measures (like being treated respectfully) because that’s what they understand. Hospital leaders may believe that patients are more concerned about issues like long wait times, but the data shows otherwise.
To really become transformational and succeed in the value-based care environment, hospitals need to understand their patients’ needs. And the only way to know how to zero in on what matters to patients is by looking at the data.
Present, Happy providers
Patients want to see providers that are present and connecting with them, patients perceive these providers to be more approachable. A doctor walking into a patient’s room appearing to be in a hurry could cause patients to be more reserved and refrain from asking questions because they don’t want to delay the doctor nor contribute to whatever the doctor is dealing with. In another example, if a nurse or a doctor walks into the patient’s room and appears to be upset, the patient is often less likely to engage out of concern that he or she will further upset the provider.
Communication between caregivers
Patients use different measures to determine the level of care they are receiving. Communication between physicians and nurses often influence the patient’s perception of their treatment. For instance, a doctor speaks with a patient and soon after the nurse is asked by the patient to explain what the doctor said, but the nurse is unable to assist the patient because she has not communicated with the doctor. The perceived lack of communication between the doctor and the nurse leads some patients to believe they are receiving substandard care.
Respect is important to patients, they want providers to treat them like individuals and engage them on a personal level. However, providers have been taught to be objective and unemotional. But for patients, this personal connection is very important; they tend to perceive that when providers connect with them on a personal level, those providers will make fewer mistakes.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review “Hospitals’ scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey are becoming increasingly important for hospitals to maintain market share and avoid losing reimbursement. Under the value-based purchasing program, hospitals could be financially penalized for low HCAHPS scores. In addition, hospitals' increased transparency and patients' greater involvement in choosing their hospital will force hospitals to provide a positive experience to attract patients. According to HCAHPS, here are some strategies hospitals can use to increase their scores.” 1
Communicate Cleary and frequently
Communication between providers and patients and also among providers is vital in ensuring a positive experience for patients. Several questions on the HCAHPS survey address communication. For example, the survey asks patients:
How often nurses and physicians listened carefully to them.
How often nurses and physicians explained things in a way they could understand If hospital staff told them what their medicine was for.
If hospital staff described possible side effects of their medicine.
If physicians, nurses or other staff discussed whether they would have the help they need after leaving the hospital.
If they received information in writing about symptoms or health problems to look out for after leaving the hospital
Hospitals are following up with patients after they are discharged to address questions or concerns, make sure discharge instructions are understood and being followed and to obtain feedback on their experience. Inquiring about a patient’s experience after they have been discharged results in the patient feeling they are being listened to and cared about
Target Key Satisfaction Drivers
HCAHPS surveys, follow-up calls and other tools, are effective measurements that can guide hospitals in determining best practices to ensure patient satisfaction and optimum experience for patients.
Educating patients during their stay is also vital to raising HCAHPS scores. To ensure they can take care of themselves post discharge hospitals must educate people from the day they are admitted. This can be accomplished with individual patient communication, written instructions and videos. A patient who is educated and communicated to about their condition will have more confidence about the care they are receiving, feel more connected with their caregivers and engaged in their healing process.
Adopting a patient-centric approach can help hospitals stress the importance of patient satisfaction. Hospital staff should approach each patient as they would like a family member treated, hospitals may be a common, everyday place for professionals, but a hospital stay is a unique situation for patients and their family
1. “4 Strategies to Boost Hospitals' HCAHPS Scores” - Becker Healthcare