It's no secret, patient satisfaction and a focus on value-based care is a top priority for hospitals and healthcare organizations nationwide. HCAHPS scores have a real impact on your bottom line, impacting consumer healthcare choices, government funding rates, and insurance payment structures. Follow this short list of tips to help increase patient satisfaction and ultimately those HCAHPS scores!
- Avoid giving off signs of indifference and uncaring. Make eye contact with patients, don’t hurry down halls nearly running down slow-moving patients, don’t ignore patients because you haven’t clocked in yet, and definitely do not talk in the hallways loudly about your next great vacation. When patients don’t feel important – their satisfaction declines quickly.
- Put yourself in your patient’s shoes. Park where they do. Walk through the entrance in crutches. Take a tour of your hospital with someone who has never been there and let them show you if they have difficulties navigating the facility. You’ll be surprised how many mis-aligned, out of date, and confusing signs you have. Once year, try doing the “full bladder exercise”. Drink two or three liters of water and notice how your perception of a “reasonable delay” changes when your bladder is full.
- Encourage employees to think about their purpose, not just function. Make sure employees understand their particular purpose in the organization and help them appreciate its importance. Their function is the day-to-day job responsibilities. Their purpose is why the job exists. Their purpose always needs to outweigh their function. For example, if you are a custodian and are responsible for ensuring clean floors, you will stop mopping and be hospitable when a patient enters the room.
- Be comfortable with saying “sorry”. Resolving patient issues means knowing how to apologize for service lapses pointed out by a patient. Eliminate defensive comments. Instead, take your patient’s side immediately and empathetically regardless of whether you think blame should be placed on the organization or its employees. Staff should practice this approach by engaging in role-playing sessions or other training methods.
- Every employee should know how to handle complaints and concerns. Never say “I can’t help you” or “I’m the wrong person”. Instead, try “I’m finding you someone right now” if you’re unsure how to address their issue.
- Create a blame-free environment. If a mistake happens once it may be the fault of an employee. If it happens twice, it is most likely the fault of the system. Get to work fixing the system!
- Systems over smiles to improve patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction doesn’t come from the biggest smile. Although genuine compassion and caring is of great value to the patient, great systems in place are far more important. If your wait time is substantially extended due to poor scheduling, even the warmest smile greeting a patient won’t remove the built-up frustration.
- Benchmark other healthcare facilities. Benchmark healthcare customer service against the best in service-intensive industries because let’s face it, your patients and their loved ones do! Every interaction is judged based on expectations set by the best players in the industry. Next time you’re shift is ending, consider what impression you have left on your patients and what emotions you may be leaving them with.