After a motor vehicle accident (MVA), most drivers and passengers need to visit the hospital. For people of all ages, MVAs are the leading cause of death from unintentional injury, and one of the leading causes of nonfatal injuries (including sprains, contusions, and superficial injuries).
In addition to treating patients in a way that maximizes their chances of survival, it’s up to hospital administrators and other staff members to ensure they have the best possible experience. Good experiences with the hospital increases the reputation of the facility, encourages more visits, and helps put patient’s minds at ease.
There are several strategies that can help you accomplish this.
Improving MVA Patient Experiences
Patients injured in MVAs may be frightened or confused; they may not have a full recollection of what just happened, and may be in a lot of pain on top of that. Treating them with patience, respect, and compassion is a must.
1. Help the patient understand their rights and payment options. Your patients will usually have to fill out paperwork before getting treatment, but the legal and financial repercussions can be confusing even for someone of sound mind. A patient may not understand whether to use auto insurance or health insurance, or know whether this level of care is appropriate for their injuries. Helping a patient understand these options, before getting treatment, is ideal for maximizing the patient’s experience.
2. Talk to the patient about what they’re experiencing. Encourage your staff to get more than just a list of symptoms or a description of injuries; this information is necessary to get accurate treatment, but it won’t make the patient feel any better. Instead, ask some subjective questions to get a better feel for the patient’s internal experience. Are they feeling detached or confused? Have they been traumatized by this experience?
3. Help the patient contact other people if necessary. Are there any friends or family members with the patient? If not, it’s a good idea to reach out and see if there’s someone who needs to be contacted. This can be a measure of relief for someone who may need to stay at the hospital for longer than a few hours, and can inform family members of what’s going on. Depending on the nature of the accident, it may be wise for the patient to contact a car accident attorney as well.
4. Make the patient comfortable. Even small changes may be enough to help a patient feel more comfortable. Encourage your staff members to ask patients what they would like to be more comfortable, whether it’s an extra pillow, a glass of water, or access to a phone charger. Expressing care about the patient’s level of comfort is often enough to make a patient feel more grounded—especially after such a bewildering event.
5. Explain everything. As you learn more about the patient and start applying treatments, do your best to explain every step of the process. Acknowledge the injuries they’ve sustained, and describe what you think they require in order to be treated. If you’re prescribing medication or treating an injury directly, explain why and what you hope to accomplish by doing it. This transparency will lead to greater patient trust, and will make the experience much more comfortable and understandable.
6. Create a personal, healthy work culture. Patient treatments and staff attitudes originate with the culture of your organization. If you promote a work culture that encourages positivity, patience, compassion, and empathy, your staff members will naturally be more approachable, and create more comfortable patient experiences. Granted, this strategy takes more time to develop than some of the others on this list, but it’s a long-term investment that pays in dividends once established. Describe your culture in detail, and reward staff members who adhere to those standards.
7. Conduct surveys to learn more. One of the best ways to keep improving your patient experiences is to collect survey data from as many patients as you can. Encourage your patients to conduct surveys, anonymously, after they’re discharged from the hospital. Collect both objective data (like a star rating of their experience) and subjective data (like special comments), then use that information to target problem points and correct them.
The Two-Pronged Approach
These strategies approach the problem from one or both of two directions. First, there are strategies that occur immediately; they’re ways for individual staff members to work with a patient, in the moment to improve their experience. Then, there are strategies that require time to manifest, such as ones that change your institution’s culture or environment. You’ll need both if you want to create an atmosphere that’s more welcoming and more beneficial to MVA victims.