Healthcare is changing at a rapid pace, often focusing on transactions, not the actual long-term relational aspects of a patient’s experience of receiving the care they need. This presents challenges in terms of ensuring optimal patient satisfaction. When the focus is on the task versus the patient’s broader needs, we miss opportunities to provide moments of joy when people are at their most vulnerable.
By shifting the focus to the patients’ long-term needs, and what they want to accomplish outside of their healthcare experiences, we can have profound impacts on their overall satisfaction. Being a healthcare partner and developing life-enriching goals with the patient motivates the team and infuses joy back into the patient/provider equation.
One way El Camino Hospital measures and manages patient satisfaction is from feedback received through nurse leader rounding, using a software application to gather data at its hospitals in Mountain View and Los Gatos, Calif.
In about 12 months, more than 14,000 rounds were completed with 9,500 unique patients across 20 different departments, generating 83,000 data points and 700 service recovery opportunities.
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The important measure is not the outcome percentage of patients who give the top response to a question, but the process measure of whether the patient met with a team member to discuss preferences and suggest ways to enhance their experience. Since last year’s implementation, the hospital increased the percent of patients experiencing leader rounding from 15 to over 50%. The next goal is to reach 75% of patients, realizing that 100% may not be eligible for a visit. As a result, HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores increased for nurse communication and staff responsiveness by approximately 25%.
CENTER OF CARE: Patrick Santos, patient experience rep, confers with Meriam Signo, MSN, RN, clinical manager, on a patient’s care experience. Photo courtesy El Camino Hospital
El Camino Hospital takes a dual approach to quantifying patient experience goals through survey data and process goals. The rounding tool allows the hospital to establish a feedback system merged with other sources to quantify intangible information. Furthermore, it gives the chief nurse executive information about her chain of command, the top performers, who may not be making the same effort, and how many patients have been met.
“Technology has enabled us to have meaningful discussions about improvements in processes, communication, and patient care, and to recognize some truly admirable caregivers. Clinicians are able to collaborate more efficiently and deliver care in the patients’ best interest through the use of technology, which results in better outcomes for our patients,” said Cheryl Reinking, MS, RN, chief nursing officer.
Improving patient satisfaction requires a multi-faceted approach and goes beyond the clinical care at the bedside. From the way the phone is answered, the way people are greeted, the help received in finding resources, or getting back on track to a meaningful life, all staff are caregivers and have the ability to provide moments of joy or genuine empathy. Technology will always be fallible to a human process, but can hold us accountable to performance.
There is no singular silver-bullet focus to get really good at it in terms of improving the patient experience, but when processes are enabled by technology to ensure customers have a voice and are partners in their own care, we illuminate pathways toward patient centeredness.
R.J. Salus is director of patient experience, El Camino Hospital, Mountainview, Calif.