Optimizing Patient Flow
Perhaps you’ve wondered what new technology, or procedure, or innovative treatment can increase the quality of care your patients receive. Perhaps you’ve struggled with the investment, uncertain of the ROI a given exploratory opportunity may bring.
Well, you’re in luck. Research done by HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) shows that when it comes to patient satisfaction scores, some of the most impactful things you can do are completely free. HCAHPS is the industry’s gold standard when it comes to patient experience surveys.
Here are 6 tips to help you improve your patient satisfaction. When considering your patient satisfaction scores the most important component is the respect you give to your patients. This may seem strange because it’s not related to waiting times, confidentiality, or even cleanliness. This is based almost solely on the interactions your patients have with your staff.
1. Make the experience positive. It is impossible to receive a perfect rating but a patient is more likely to leave your practice raving reviews if the overall impression was positive. Your patient may only wait a handful of minutes but if your nurse isn’t kind, doesn’t make eye contact, and doesn’t seem concerned for the patient’s well being or reason for their visit then that experience is what is going to imprint on your patient’s mind. On the flip side of that, the patient may wait a while longer but they feel cared for and respected once seen then that is what they are going to remember
2. Keep your employees happy. This kind of goes hand in hand with #1. Happy employees directly correlate to happy patients. In fact, according to the Advisory Board Company’s 2015 Employee Engagement Survey, for every one-percent increase in employee engagement, an organization’s overall hospital HCAHPS rating increased by 33% and patients’ willingness to recommend the hospital increased by 25%.
3. Communicate clearly and effectively. Another large component of improving your patient scores is how you communicate with your staff and to your patients. If a doctor goes into a patient’s room and gives them instructions then an hour later a nurse goes in and the patient asks about the instructions and the nurse can’t reiterate them the patient is going to perceive the nurse doesn’t know what’s going on. This will lead to the patient believing that they are receiving inadequate care.
In order to avoid this mistake be sure to have systems in place that all parties that are in contact with the patient know and understand what care is being given and what care may be required upon departure. You also want to be sure that your entire staff is courteous to your patients. Even if someone has to say “I’m not sure, let me ask for you” that is infinitely better than “I don’t know, I don’t handle that issues.” The former answer will let the patient know that their needs are going to be cared for no matter who enters the room.
4. Clean lobby or waiting area. Be sure to present a clean environment for your patients. No sticky floors, stained cushions, wobbly furniture, or torn reading material. The less there is to notice in the lobby the less they’re going to notice in the rest of your facility.
5. Apologize. Teaching your staff to apologize for long wait times. According to a study done by Software, patients said they would be less frustrated or not frustrated at all if their physician apologized for their wait.It’s easy for doctors to get caught up in medical terminology, remaining unbiased and unemotional in the face of difficult news, but that’s not what your patients want, or frankly, need in those moments. They need a staff that shows empathy, answers their questions with authority but also with sincerity. If you’re truly concerned about improving your patient satisfaction take a look at how your staff treats your patients from the moment they step into the lobby through the moment they leave.Be sure your receptionist is friendly and engaging, they are the very first impression your patient is going to experience. If your receptionists are carrying on a personal conversation or sending a text while your patient is signing in, this will hurt patient engagement and the overall patient experience you provide. The good news is these issues are relatively easy to solve.
When your staff genuinely care for your patients and seeks to make every aspect of their experience top-notch, patient satisfaction scores improve dramatically.
Look at how improving just a patient’s wait time could improve your satisfaction score
1. Eighty percent of respondents said being told the wait time would either completely or somewhat minimize their frustration.
2. Seventy percent said a personal apology from their physician would completely or somewhat minimize their frustration.
3. Free internet in the waiting room would completely or somewhat minimize frustration for 60 percent of respondents.
4. About 40 percent said they would be willing to see another physician if it meant a shorter waiting time.
5. Patients are evenly split in waiting location preference, with one third preferring an exam room, one third preferring the general waiting room and one third indicating no preference.
6. Almost 40 percent of female respondents said they would prefer to wait in a private exam room, compared to almost 30 percent of male respondents.
7. Fifteen percent of patients wait more than 30 minutes to see a physician.
8. About 20 percent of patients would be willing to pay an extra fee for quicker service. 9. Ninety-seven percent of patients are frustrated by wait times.
We’ve created a few helpful surveys applicable for both candidates and hiring managers to keep you at the top of your potential.