Integral for the smooth functioning of a hospital, high patient experience scores are necessary for the satisfaction of all members within the facility.
The patient experience starts with the leaders of a hospital, clinic, or other facility of a health system. Leaders must define what the patient experience means to their organization, and then ensure its execution through the rest of the organization. Leadership has the responsibility to set their own mission statement or list of achievable goals to fulfill a positive patient experience that not only provides safe, quality care, but also ultimate patient satisfaction.
Leaders have to get patients involved so leaders can learn from the patients how patients define a positive patient experience at the organization. Many hospitals today use patient experience advisory committees made up of former patients who have experienced patient care at the facility to gather data. Utilizing a survey, which includes data about different categories, is an example of how to measure the patient experience. Focus groups are an additional way hospital leaders gain insights.
Gathering input from patients and family members helps leaders to effectively design and improve the health care delivery at the organization.
Leaders have to be visible with patients and family members. Many hospitals have leader rounding programs where all leaders have to round on patients on a regular basis to see how patients are being treated and get input. A hospital leader might visit five patients a week to hear about their personal experiences. Leaders must also be able to correct problems such as dissatisfaction with food, unclean rooms, and unnecessary and prolonged waiting times, as soon as possible.
A way to increase visibility is for leaders of each specialty area to meet before their staff members’ shifts start to discuss the data they’ve gathered from their patient rounding experiences. When this patient feedback is transferred from one shift to another, staff can come up with a consensus or renewal of goals towards sharpening the patient experience.
Leaders have to be committed to hiring the right staff—people that truly care, are going to treat the patients with dignity, respect, and compassion. A candidate might “like working with people,” but it does not mean that they will be successful care providers in a hospital or clinic. Leaders also must treat staff with dignity, respect, and compassion so that the staff feel comfortable about working in that environment and will put into practice the correct behavior.
Staff present a notable impact on the patient experience. They must be engaged to provide a high-quality patient experience. It is evident that organizations with high levels of employee engagement have high patient experience scores.
Leaders must be committed to providing all staff, especially those that provide direct patient care, with regular and targeted customer service training. All new employees should be trained as part of the new employee orientation.
It is important for leaders to consistently measure the patient experience with interviews and surveys, and share with staff what is working and what is not so that the impact continues down the line and reaches the patients.
Leaders need to take ownership for a patient experience filled with dignity, respect, and compassion in their hospital. They have the responsibility to set the example and create the right atmosphere to ensure that all patients have the best experience when they are in their hospital, clinic, or other facility.
If you would like to speak with Hugo Aguas, MPA, Director of Interim Services directly for more insights about healthcare leadership, including interim leadership, please feel free to contact us by phone or email.