8 Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction
Young physicians enter the workforce to start their careers in medicine to save lives. However, they work in emergency departments that get busier every day. As more and more people resort to using emergency services for their primary care, they demand more services that lead to crowded conditions, longer wait times, and physicians practicing hallway medicine.
This all reduces patient satisfaction while increasing the stress on the hospital staff. national patient satisfaction levels have already reached a nine-year low.
Patient Satisfaction Matters
While patient satisfaction is the last thing on the minds of stressed and overworked hospital staff, hospitals need their communities see them interested in quality care. Thus, hospitals need high patient satisfaction to remain competitive in their markets.
Patients are a hospital’s customers, and patients will choose the hospital they feel best meets their needs. When patients are happy, they make the hospital staff happy. When they are not happy, you will hear about it though angry letters, poor satisfaction scores, and bad local publicity. This is why high patient satisfaction is so important.
Understanding Patient Needs
Emergency departments are already at a disadvantage with their long wait times, hallway medicine, and loud and frequent chaotic atmosphere. Patients come into this environment looking for someone to trust. They are vulnerable and in pain, and the chaotic emergency atmosphere leaves them scared and anxious. It only takes one small mistake to make these patientsfeel worse, both physically and mentally.
Satisfaction has its peaks and valleys, but it should always go up, and communication is the key. Hospitals need to make their patients feel like unique individuals while keeping them updated during their long waits. By keeping their patients feel comfortable, hospitals can reduce their patients‘ anxiety, leading to better patient understanding of their situation, their treatments, and their discharge instructions. Just remember that how you keep your patients informed is just as important as what you say.
Improving Patient Satisfaction
With how important patient satisfaction is to your hospital, you want to address any negative patient experiences as quickly as possible. You want to use your patient satisfaction score to improve your patient experience. Your patients will let some things slide if give them positive experiences throughout their stay, but you need to show some effort that you do care for them.
You can use assessment surveys to determine where you could improve your patients‘ experience at your hospital. You will have to account for the “halo effect” where patients give praise where they normally would not to not offend you. You learn nothing from those inflated scores.
If you need a more literal results to know where you need to improve, here are eight tips for improving your patient satisfaction and the service they receive.
1. Show that you care
You want to stop appearing indifferent and uncaring if you want to improve your patient satisfaction. Every member of your staff needs to make eye contact and check in on patients as they walk by them. Everyone in your organization represents your hospital the moment they walk through the door, and your patients expect everyone to see to their needs, clocked in or not. You also need to arrange your waiting rooms around your patients as well. For instance, all vending machines and change machines need to just work.
2. Experience your care as a patient
You cannot begin to improve your patient experience if you do not know what your patients experience. You should park where your patients park. You want to know how easy it is to walk through the front door disabled. Finally, tour your hospital with someone new and let them find places on their own. These and other steps will show you how your patients see your hospital and where you need to improve without your natural biases.
3. Employees should understand their purpose and not just function.
Your employees need to understand both their functions and their purposes. A properly trained and managed employee will know when to do their job or to stop and help out a patient in need. You need to praise these employees as much as possible.
4. Learn when to say “sorry”
You may never want to say that you are sorry to your patients, but resolving patient issues requires knowing when to apologize for service lapses. You should never be defensive or apathetic towards upset patients.
5. Establish a blame-free environment
All employee mistakes are the fault of the system as a whole and not the individual employees and requires systematic solutions.
6. Never say you cannot do something
No one in your organization should tell your patients that they cannot help them. Everyone employee needs to answers ever patient concern as requested, even if that means finding the right person to handle the patient’s needs.
7. Patient satisfaction is an organization-wide problem.
Good patient satisfaction requires good systems as well as good hospitality. You need align all your business systems, from your scheduling systems to your communication tools to your management software, to the needs of your patients.
8. Benchmark outside the healthcare industry
Healthcare organizations tend to compare themselves only to others in their industry. While this seems appropriate, you will miss important information about your patient experience if you keep doing this. You get the best, most accurate benchmarks if you compare yourself to any service oriented business regardless of their industry.
Contact me if you want something similar to this article on your blog.