Four Practical Ways Hospitals Can Improve Patient Experience
These easy steps can speed recovery, improve patient safety, and reduce readmission
A patient’s perception of the hospital experience is influenced primarily by four factors. They boil down to:
- How well people communicated with them
- How courteous people were with them
- How comfortable the room was
- How easy it was to transition back home
And in fact, those are the four main components of a hospital’s HCAHPS scores. When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services developed the HCAHPS survey, patient satisfaction with the medical treatment received didn’t make the list.
Studies show good reason for that. Separate research conducted by Cristobal Young of Columbia University and Xinxiang Chen of Minzu University found that “hospitality” is more important to patients than medical care. Why?
Patients compartmentalize the hospital experience into two distinct pieces: treatment (critical medical care), and creature comforts (what they call “room and board” care). The researchers conclude that patients are better able to judge the comfort of their stay than they are the quality of their treatment. So room and board is what frames their perception of the hospital experience. This presents an opportunity for hospitals.
That’s because improving the patient’s hospital experience is good medicine. The manner in which a hospital delivers non-medical services to a patient affects his or her length of stay, discharge readiness, post-hospital syndrome, and readmission rate. And 69% of patients “believe a good experience contributes to their healing/good health outcomes.”
How can a hospital improve the patient’s experience? Here are four practical ways
Involve patients in their treatment
The typical hospital stay is characterized by long hours in bed with little if any human interaction. Nurses are only able to spend between 35% and 46% of their day attending to patients face-to-face. So providing patients a way to communicate with caregivers when they are not in the room can fill this gap and make the time between bedside visits pass more quickly. More importantly, it involves patients in their own treatment, which improves the quality of medical decisions.
Using Sentrics’ E3 interactive patient engagement solutions, patients can view videos to learn about their specific condition and various treatment protocols. They can see their individual medical records and read about the treatment plan prescribed by their care team. They can see what medications have been prescribed, what their purpose is, and if there are any side effects. Informing patients about all of this between rounds makes bedside conversations more meaningful. Nurses spend less time educating patients about their condition and more time providing care, and answering patients’ questions about what they have learned.
The television, tablet, or swing-arm touch screen can also be used by patients to view vital signs screenings, lab reports, and x-rays. Patients can view their care team, daily care plan and other information via digital whiteboard, integrated directly into the patient’s electronic medical record. Keeping patients informed in real time and continuously connected with caregivers provides peace of mind and contributes to overall well-being.
Such two-way communication systems turn patients’ rooms into interactive learning environments that put them in greater control of the hospital experience. It empowers patients to take an active role in their healthcare.
Put patients in control of their environment
The connected device in the patient’s room delivers television programming and lets patients watch movies or play video games. They can use it to get email and access the internet. The Sentrics E3 interactive solutions literally create a hospital smart room that enables the patient to control their environment. With it patients can:
- Change room temperature.
- Open and close window shades.
- Dim or brighten lighting.
Pairing it with pillow speakers makes it easier for patients to relax and sleep soundly because they can listen to music or ambient sound videos like rain, waves or flowing water.
Keep patients comfortable and safe
Immediate engagement leads to greater patient comfort and speedier recoveries. Requests for additional pillows, another blanket or a glass of water can be met quickly, allowing patients to rest comfortably. This contributes significantly to their recovery.
In a study conducted by Ohio State University researchers Emily Patterson, Elizabeth Sanders, Carolyn Sommerich, Steven Lavender, Jing Li, and Kevin Evans patients revealed that “…comfort in their rooms… help them recover from illness or surgery”.
Keeping patients in bed also keeps them safe. Nearly a million people a year fall while in the hospital. Enabling patients to control routine tasks like lowering the room lights – from their bed – keeps them in bed, helping minimize the risk of falls. It also frees up more patient care time for nurses – who no longer must respond to routine non-clinical matters.
Make things hospitable and convenient
It’s likely no one would argue that going to a hospital is the same as going to a hotel. But, the closer that experience can be to a hotel-like stay, and less of a clinic-like stay, the more satisfied a patient will be. Sentrics E3 interactive room dining capabilities are one example. Through the patient room TV or other device, the patient can view and order meals customized to their dietary restrictions. In addition, patient visitors can order guest meal trays.
As patients near their discharge date, E3 discharge readiness screens help nurses ensure the patient is fully ready for discharge. Through their television (or other connected device), the nurse can ensure that the patient has watched all assigned education videos and can answer any questions; has read information on their medications, and placed orders for medications before leaving the hospital; and fully understands their post-hospital treatment instructions.
Improving patient experience improves patient outcomes
Keeping patients informed and empowering them to be involved in their treatment plan yields significant health benefits. Giving patients more control of their environment and engaging them in an interactive way alleviates the sense of isolation and keeps them mentally stimulated. Keeping patients comfortable speeds their recovery and keeps them safe. And making the transition home easy leads to happier healthier patients, less likely to be readmitted.
Learn more ways to improve your patients’ experience and satisfaction.