Much has been written about improving the patient experience within hospitals. Under healthcare reform penalties are incurred if patients with certain conditions are re-admitted within 30 days of discharge.
For these and other reasons many hospitals have gone to some extreme measures to make their facilities more patient friendly. It’s taken awhile for hospitals to actually realize that they should care about the service that they provide to their patients and the way in which they treat the visitors and family members of those patients.
As a former clinician and hospital CEO I have spent considerable time in hospitals. In my current role I make sales calls with clients to hospitals and I occasionally visit a friend or relative.
In Part 2 of this blog I would like to share some personal experiences with you that I have encountered over the last 6-12 months.
How You Can Tell if a Hospital is Customer Centric? Two Patients Perspective
One patient experience was provided to me from a family member who was also an RN. I observed her care while in the hospital (SHO). The other is from my own experience of being hospitalized unexpectedly for several days (SHTP). As you read through each of these points think of the myriad of ways that a sales representative that sells a product, service or solution that impacts any of these areas could help to improve patient satisfactions scores and assist healthcare workers to perform their job more efficiently and effectively.
- Admission– Patients want a fast, smooth and efficient admission process. Delays create dissatisfaction and set the stage for a poor patient experience. The admission process for a family member who was scheduled for surgery was streamlined and efficient. This not only made it easy and comfortable for the patient it enabled the hospital to know how they would be paid for their services. The admission process through the ED for myself was quick and efficient.
- Pain Control– When patients are in pain they want medications to alleviate it. They want their medications on time and they want them administered proactively or before the pain ensues if possible. In my family members situation SHO did a great job. They were consistently on time in delivering the medications. I had the exact same experience at SHTP. When patients want something, response time is crucial especially if it’s for pain medications. A few minutes to a family member or a visitor is an eternity for a patient. There are several variables that affect care-giver response time and the most crucial is the proper staffing. This is a patient survey question.
- Medication Explanation– Patients get lots of medications while in the hospital. Most are given intravenously or orally. Patients want to know what medications they are being given and why. It’s important that nurses explain the medications and their purpose before administering them. This is a patient survey question. SHO and SHTP did this very well.
- Nurse Communication– At the end of each shift, the new shift nurse was introduced. If during a shift one nurse was busy and something was needed, another nurse or assistant helped the patient. They worked together as team for the betterment of the patient. From my observation at SHO and my experience at SHTP they communicated extremely well.
- Physician Interaction– Once again SHO and SHTP was exceptional. At SHO the hospitalist was caring, clear, concise and compassionate. The surgeon was friendly, unhurried and he carefully explained the next steps post-operatively. He projected re-assurance that all was well and recovery was going as planned. At SHTP a group of physicians (hospitalists and specialists) collaborated around a joint treatment plan. Ironically the best communicator was a Chinese medical student followed by a specialist. This is a patient survey question.
- Noisy or Quiet? At SHO, it was very quiet at night. During the day it was a different story. The room next to my family member was very loud due to the number of visitors. Noise disrupts sleep and the bonding process and is a common source of patient dissatisfaction. It should be minimized. At SHTP it was quiet during the day and night. This is a patient survey question.
- Room & Bathroom Cleanliness – Hospitals are supposed to be clean and uncluttered and SHO, and SHTP were better than I would have expected. In both hospital facilities, the rooms were very clean. This is a patient survey question.
- Discharge Process– AT SHO the instructions were good but not great. AT SHTP they were much better. The detailed report I get from Jiffy Lube is still better than most hospitals discharge instructions. When patient are told they can be discharged, it should be done in a prompt, organized manner. Patients are anxious, tired and on medications. They are not thinking clearly so they should be provided with clear, written instructions that are easy to understand along with a telephone number to call if there are questions post-discharge. This is a patient survey question.
Parting Thoughts on Patient Satisfaction
Patient satisfaction is both a science and an art. As a science, hospitals can map out the activities that occur with patients and understand how to impact their experience in a positive manner. As an art, the personnel that work in a hospital or healthcare setting are the individuals that execute the strategy. They must be thoughtful, caring, excellent communicators and well trained. Great hospitals work at skill development daily with their employees. Great patient satisfaction scores are the results of their hard work and perseverance toward continuous improvement in patient care.
Many savvy sellers have the ability to help hospitals and health care workers improve their patient satisfaction scores by using their product, service or solution. Demonstrate your value and win more sales!