How Top Rated Hospitals Are Improving the Patient Experience

November 30, 2015
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Earlier this year the government implemented a program to apply star ratings to hospitals based on patient feedback surveys. Those ratings are helping Medicare patients compare hospitals and ultimately select a facility. They also have an effect on the hospital’s pay scale through Medicare.

Earlier this year the government implemented a program to apply star ratings to hospitals based on patient feedback surveys. Those ratings are helping Medicare patients compare hospitals and ultimately select a facility. They also have an effect on the hospital’s pay scale through Medicare.

Since the surveys went into effect in 2007, many hospitals have made huge strides in improving the patient experience. Some have even implemented their own clinic surveys to increase the quality of their service. Here’s a look at how the top rated hospitals improved their scores by focusing on different elements of patient care:

Hiring Staff That Puts Focus on Patient Care

Each employee at a hospital or medical clinic has daily job tasks that may or may not involve patient interaction. Using healthcare support staffing will help find employees who understand how their work impacts the patient experience. This goes a long way towards improving care.

Virginia Hospital Center has credited careful employee selection for their improved rating. Officials there have implemented a screening process that includes behavioral testing, in-depth interviews and endorsements by current employees. Every six months employees are reevaluated to gauge how well they are performing and serving the overall goal of improving patient care.

Training Staff in Customer Service

More facilities now recognize that properly training healthcare support staff in customer service best practices has a significant impact on the experience of patients. Every employee is being trained in how to handle patient questions and complaints regardless of their position. Healthcare facilities are also benchmarking their customer service against top rated companies rather than other clinics. After all, patients are consumers, and they expect the same level of service that they get from other providers.

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Practicing Better Communication

Officials at the University of Missouri Health System say that they have helped doctors and nurses improve their communication skills through simulation. Actors were used to play out various scenarios, including ones that don’t involve diagnosis or treatment.

Attention is being turned to the fact that all interaction makes a difference in the patient’s experience. This also includes non-verbal communication. The UNC School of Medicine created its own guidelines for improving the patient-doctor relationship, and using effective non-verbal communication was high on their list of suggestions.

Personalizing Patients

In medical facilities, getting through the day is often a numbers game. It’s easy for patients to simply become the next person in line. But that mindset is changing in hospitals that want to improve their patient survey scores.

Rowan Medical Center has been notorious for being among the lowest scored Medicare hospitals. New management has recently implemented a number of small changes that are making a big difference. One of those changes is personalizing the patients by adding white poster boards to each room. While talking with patients nurses add tidbits of information about the patient. That way when the next nurse comes to check on the patient they can immediately see personal information and make a connection. Rowan has also made it a goal to have nurses spend 70 percent of their time interacting with patients.

Bringing Patient Experience Consultants on Staff

The issue of improving patient experience has become so significant that there are now professionals that specialize in helping healthcare facilities identify where improvements can be made. These patient experience consultants are tasked with creating complete strategies that address patient satisfaction on every level. They’ll assess everything from billing systems to the cultural environment to find solutions that provide sustained improvement.

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Improving patient experience is an ongoing process that will continue to evolve right alongside medical treatments. Hospitals that perform at top levels understand the importance of investing in patient care beyond the treatment plan.