The issues of patient satisfaction and experience continue to plague the healthcare industry. Naturally clinicians are interested in making a difference in their patients's lives and improving outcomes by finding new ways to optimize care. The Affordable Care Act added another layer by introducing financial incentives associated with patient satisfaction results. Many organizations are guilty of attempting to game the system by focusing excessively on the individual questions asked by satisfaction assessments, instead of organically improving overall care for patients and their families.
The simple truth, backed by research, is that patient's are more appreciative and content with the care they receive when they are treated with respect. Here are two simple tips to help hospital's enhance patient experiences:
Think like a patient: In an article in Forbes Micah Solomon, a customer service, patient satisfaction and patient experience consultant, states that hospital leaders should, "strive actively to experience your care the way that [their] patients do." Until you stand in a patient's shoes it can be difficult to see where care procedures are succeeding and where they could be improved. Solomon suggests providers take tours of their facility as if they were a newcomer, park where patients do and attempt to navigate the hospital in crutches or a wheelchair to assess ease of access and have conversations with individuals a patient would meet to find out if there are any issues (such as avoiding eye contact or speaking negatively) that could be changed.
Treat patients like customers: Non-healthcare consumer-oriented industries have taken customer service to new levels. Healthcare providers can learn a lot from simply by taking cues from such organizations and treating patients like customers who expect top-notch service.
It is essential for healthcare leaders to use empathy to fully understand they kind of care their patient's experience. Programs like Patient Approved can also help, by providing doctors and hospitals with feedback from patients regarding their treatment.