8 simple things you can do today to increase patient satisfaction
23 June 2015
Traditionally hospitals and healthcare systems implemented workforce management initiatives primarily to reduce labour costs. However there has been a sweeping change in focus. The focus is now on improving patient satisfaction, patient safety, and patient clinical outcomes.
Hospitals and other healthcare settings actively measure patient satisfaction as part of their usual business process. But for nurses, patient satisfaction is so much more than a statistic or a key indicator of overall performance.
As primary care givers, nurses genuinely care about the individual patient’s health outcomes – and we know that a happy patient is more likely to be engaged in their care, more likely to adhere to their treatment plan, and is therefore more likely to achieve better health outcomes.
The factors that have the greatest impact on patient satisfaction are actually pretty consistent across different healthcare settings and, while they may not all be in the nurses control, there are many things that nurses can – and do! – do to help increase patient satisfaction.
The list that follows may serve as a reminder of the little things that can make a big difference in a patient’s day. Most are intuitive, but can still be easily forgotten in the daily pressures of a nurse’s busy schedule.
But first – what is it that patients complain about most?
While each hospital has their own patient satisfaction survey, the main themes of patient complaints are quite universal. And – surprisingly for some – they don’t directly relate to the quality of medical care that patients feel they received.
The pattern of patient complaints reveals quite a simple list of requirements.
Patients complain most about:
1. Lack of communication from their clinical team
2. A noisy healing environment
3. The quality of hospital food
The quality of hospital food may be well and truly outside of a nurse’s sphere of influence but there are many things that nurses can do help improve communication and reduce noise in the healing environment – and that will go a long way to help increase patient satisfaction.
Eight simple things you can do today to increase patient satisfaction
I know that in my many years of ward experience, I was often looking for sources of extra inspiration and I hope that the list I provided below will do just that – provide you with a little inspiration on some of the little things you can do today that just may make your patient’s day.
1. Introduce yourself
Sounds obvious right? It’s amazing though how often, when rushing around with our long list of things to do, we forget to introduce ourselves to our patients. And what impact this can have on a patient who may already be feeling anxious in an unfamiliar environment.
2. Speak the same language
Try to speak in plain terms and avoid technical jargon – and not just to those whose English is a second language. The hospital environment is daunting for all patients, the simpler the message and the more straight-forward the instruction, the more likely they are to absorb it.
3. Ask more questions
And when you do, really listen. Make sure that you are understood and not just heard. Don’t assume that just because you explained a patient’s care plan or a specific instruction that they have grasped what may be a totally new concept to them.
4. Don’t dismiss
If a patient says they are in pain, don’t dismiss it. If no more medication can be given, explain and show empathy. Patients may be anxious about simple, routine procedures; take the time to re-assure them.
5. Provide an update
Patients want to feel like they are part of the healing process and they want to be informed. Not everyone is the same though. Try to ‘read’ your patient to determine how much detail they need. For some, ‘less is more’. And always keep them updated; for e.g, if the time of their procedure has changed or you need to keep them waiting for any reason, tell them why.
6. Show that you care
Try to get to know the person, and see beyond the medical record. Some patients are more concerned about their house, pets, or family members they cannot attend to while away. And sometimes, all the patient needs is for someone to hold their hand. These are just two of the many small ways you can show that you care.
7. Spread the good news
Pay as much attention to patient compliments as patient complaints, and then spread the positive message among the team. It will lift staff morale and encourage more of the right behaviour.
8. Lower your voice
And be mindful of chatter around patient rooms, particularly at night time. See it as your contribution to a quiet healing environment. Other sources of noise such as paging, monitors, or even the noise from the pan flusher may not be in your control, but we do know that noise prevents patients from having the rest that they need to help in the healing process.
What about you? What are some of your favourite tips for enhancing the patient experience and increasing patient satisfaction?