Every healthcare provider strives for patient satisfaction. Today it’s all about giving patients a positive, comfortable experience. From the smallest private practice to the largest hospital network and every healthcare facility in between, patient satisfaction is tied directly to the success of that facility. In fact, patient satisfaction directly impacts a facility's performance on the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) Surveys.
A facility’s overall survey score, which measures multiple topics that encompass the patient experience, directly correlates to that facility’s Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. With lower-performing health systems receiving reimbursement cuts, and top-scoring health systems receiving larger reimbursement payments, administrators cannot afford to ignore any factor in the survey for the benefit of their own facility and of course, for the patients.
Treating illness and providing preventative care to patients is of course integral to building strongly satisfied patients. However, there are many factors affecting patient satisfaction and healthcare quality that go far beyond simply receiving proper and timely care. Understanding all the factors that affect patient satisfaction and healthcare quality is, therefore, key in both becoming and remaining a respected community healthcare facility that your patients will choose to return to whenever they or a loved have a need. This includes everything from providing support to a patient during a difficult time, to giving them a comfortable, hygienically clean set of sheets to sleep on.
Here’s how to improve patient satisfaction in healthcare settings.
The Benefits of Bedside Manner
There’s an age-old trope about how doctors, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners need to be able to interact with their patients in ways that put them at ease and ensure they have their patients’ trust. This is, of course, referred to as “having a good bedside manner,” and as trite as it may sound, there is much truth in this. As obvious as it may be, it is no less worthy of pointing out how crucial it is for staff to develop a strong rapport with patients before even engaging in any clinical treatment, as this aids in establishing a sense of trust. Earning this trust helps to ensure patients feel listened to, especially when they voice their fears; patients can often miss key clinical information and self-care instructions because of this fear.
There are some excellent methods for building a personal connection with patients, but there’s a simple one that is often very effective at improving patient satisfaction: making an effort to maintain eye contact in order to demonstrate dedication. Not looking at charts or computer screens when talking to a patient but instead meeting their gaze shows the patient that a healthcare professional’s focus is on them, as does other types of engagement like asking what matters to them and using the patient’s name when speaking with them.
All of these actions can build rapport and trust with visitors and patients, which in turn leads to patients who are more satisfied with their care.
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Listening is an Important Factor in Success
Other important facets of building better patient satisfaction in your healthcare facility include not just talking to patients effectively but also taking the time to listen to them. Healthcare professionals must make sure that patients feel truly listened to and heard when discussing their issues. A key aspect to listening to patients begins with having the time to do it. One way to enable staff to have more time to spend with patients is by partnering with a linen management vendor, such as ImageFIRST, which eliminates tedious tasks such as sorting and managing patient gowns and scrubs. This, in turn, enables clinicians to have more time to focus on what matters most: providing superior patient care.
But listening doesn’t end during patient exams – the real voice of the patient can be heard in other ways as well. Bringing in data from different sources is key in this endeavor, as this provides a more robust and well-rounded view of what each patient needs, what they’re getting, and what they’re still looking for.
Soliciting direct feedback from patients after appointments in the form of online surveys delivered to their email or to their phone via text message is a good start, but there are also other avenues to explore. Comments on social media pages are also a strong source of feedback, as are online reviews of healthcare facilities or specific providers. Additionally, survey scores from HCAHPS are also incredibly indicative of performance. Taken together, all these data points can aid in providing a more comprehensive view of how satisfied your patients truly are as well as provide areas where there’s room for improvement.
Ensure High Levels of Cleanliness and Professionalism
Patients always want to receive care in an environment that feels safe, clean, and sanitary. The entirety of your healthcare facility needs to look as clean as possible at all times, and that starts from the moment the patient walks in the doors and checks in at the front desk. Floors and surfaces should be gleaming, and staff should appear in scrubs, lab coats, and related uniforms that are spotless and in optimal condition. When staff start their shift with a fresh pair of scrubs, that also helps keep them feeling better and less stressed and ready to focus their energies on their patients instead of their laundry.
A simple way to ensure your floors and surfaces are maintained and clean is with a fully managed safety and hygiene program that includes items such as floor mats in compliance with the National Floor Safety Institute, and microfiber mops for EVS teams to have the appropriate supplies to keep highly trafficked areas spotless. These simple solutions can provide a welcoming and safe environment for patients, enhancing their perception of the facility.
Another key element in affecting patient satisfaction and healthcare quality is comfort. Having comfortable sheets and pillows, a comfortable hospital gown, clean cubicle curtains and more all adds up to a positive impression of a facility during a patient’s visit.
The best form of linen management is one that’s done for you — where an expert will monitor your inventory on your behalf, sanitize your linens with effective infection prevention processes, and ensure your staff always have the uniforms and linens they need when they need it. A fully managed solution provider, such as ImageFIRST Healthcare Laundry Specialists, ensures that not only does every patient gown, towel, blanket, and sheet arrive clean and sanitized, but that your physicians, nurses, and other medical staff always have access to clean and spotless medical uniforms and apparel on-demand.
How You Can Improve Patient Satisfaction
Improving patient satisfaction is a primary mission for any healthcare facility as much as it is to treat and prevent illness in these patients. Through a combination of leveraging modern tools and technology, presenting a clean and professional-looking facility, and building better trust and rapport with patients by communicating more authentically and truly listening to what your patients are saying, your facility can provide heightened satisfaction to your patients as well.