July 30, 2015 — Blog Post
Getting Back to Basics – Improving Satisfaction with a Personalized, Thoughtful Approach
As someone whose every day vocabulary includes the words “patient experience,” it has been eye-opening to watch a friend of mine navigate the healthcare system and see first-hand what his experiences have been like in, what he would call, a very intimidating and unfamiliar landscape.
My friend was diagnosed with kidney and bladder cancer about one year ago and, recently, he underwent surgery to remove his bladder and replace it with a urostomy bag. As I visited him in the hospital, he told me about the care he received. He said his nurses kept him comfortable, brought him the things he needed, explained things to him thoroughly before doing anything and, most of all, he said they were pleasant and had a positive attitude – he was satisfied with his experience. He had personalized care and a one-on-one connection with his provider. He felt valued and that his needs were recognized.
But can all patients say the same? How can providers ensure all patients feel satisfied when both inside and outside of their immediate care? It requires a personalized approach.
1. Put a Face with a Name
Patient satisfaction can be improved when the patient feels connected with their provider. And, when many patients encounter a revolving door of new faces, putting a face with a name can be helpful in making sure patients still feel comfortable and confident in their care team.
For example, a randomized, controlled trial, conducted in a Toronto hospital, found patients who received photographs of their clinicians, had improved recall of their care team. These patients’ ability to identify their providers was statistically significantly higher than patients who received the names and roles of their care team alone. The photographic aids also helped “increase feelings of empathy, compassion and understanding about a person or situation.” Therefore, simply providing photos of a patient’s care team can help increase trust and satisfaction.
2. Engage Your Care Team
Improving satisfaction doesn’t just depend on engaging patients – their clinical team has to be engaged! How many times have you gone to a store or restaurant and had an interaction with staff that left you sarcastically thinking, “wow, clearly they like their job”? An employee’s attitude can directly influence the quality of the interaction, and the same can be said for healthcare interactions.
For example, a study discussed by the Harvard Business Review, revealed “patients tended to be more satisfied when their caregivers were happy. It wasn’t that they craved interactions with happy employees; rather, they believed that if their caregivers were unhappy, it meant either that the patient was doing something to make them feel that way or that something was going on that they did not want to reveal.”
Based on this, Cleveland Clinic, for example, took the initiative to foster an engaged workforce. As the article details, the organization recognizes everyone, from administrators to custodial staff, as having the potential to impact a patient’s experience and satisfaction.
3. Inspire Wellness With Acts of Humankindness
Beyond anything tactical that an organization can due to improve patient satisfaction, there is also the most fundamentally basic thing to remember – don’t underestimate the value of human-kindness.
As outlined in a press release issued by Dignity Health, the organization has recently launched a campaign entitled “Hello Humankindness,” with the intention to place a greater emphasis on the human connection.
The multi-year program aims to inspire, not only its patients and its workforce, but its surrounding communities to improve their health and well-being by sharing forms of humankindness taking place out in the world. And, this inspiration will come in the forms of print, television, web channels and social media.
“What’s missing in the public discourse about healthcare is that, while medicine has the power to cure, it’s humanity that holds the power to heal,” said Lloyd H. Dean, President/CEO of Dignity Health.
Taking the Next Step
improving patient satisfaction doesn’t have to require large-scale, expensive solutions. It requires thinking of patients as individual people and cases that require the same personalized and thoughtful approach.
And, with these types of strategies being utilized more and more at real healthcare organizations, it leaves many to consider if they are falling behind. What is being done at your organization to ensure a positive patient experience?