Hospitals are being judged more closely based on patient satisfaction scores, which means more facilities are trying to offer amenities to make patients more comfortable during hospital visits. Some healthcare experts believe that borrowing ideas from children’s hospitals could help all facilities provide a higher level of patient-centered care.
Hospital stays aren’t usually pleasant. Besides the experience itself being stressful, patients often end up more exhausted than they were when first admitted to the hospital. Sleep can be interrupted by regular early-morning vital-sign checks or blood draws. Constant noise, foot traffic and bright lights don’t help matters.
Combined with other physical stressors that come along with illness, this lack of sleep can hurt recovery – and even lead to negative health effects that last well after discharge.
But children’s hospitals are different. Children in the hospital are often treated more delicately than adults who are hospitalized for the same conditions. And applying some of these practices to adult-oriented facilities could make a world of difference for patients of all ages.
In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Kumar Dharmarjan from Yale School of Medicine, one of the lead researchers in a study examining pediatric medicine techniques in children’s hospitals, discussed several strategies hospitals could use to improve the patient experience.
According to Dr. Dharmarjan, here are three tactics commonly used in children’s facilities that can also make hospital stays less stressful for adults:
- Improve the hospital’s appearance and atmosphere. Children’s hospitals typically have bright and cheerful decorations, with colorful walls that are covered with art. In addition, providers actively engage with young patients, trying to lift their spirits and make them feel better. And patients are often offered opportunities to enjoy music or create crafts while hospitalized. Using these ideas to make hospitals more welcoming places can make sick adults feel more at ease.
- Allow family rounding. Young children can’t make medical decisions on their own. So at children’s hospitals, families are closely involved in patient care. Parents and guardians are also encouraged to go on rounds with doctors and nurses so they can discuss the young patient’s treatment in detail. This gives families the perfect opportunity to ask questions and clear up any confusion about care plans, medications and other aspects of the child’s illness. A similar level of communication with the clinical team would be vital for adult patients, and their families and caregivers.
- Change the procedure for vital-sign checks. At pediatric medical centers, medical interventions are often done all at once. Instead of waking up a young patient multiple times to check their vital signs, draw blood or administer medications, all these actions are grouped together to minimize disruption. To take this a step further, children are often taken to a different room for blood draws and other small procedures. That way, they won’t associate the anxiety caused by the procedure with their hospital room, and they’re better able to relax. Removing adults from their room for painful blood draws during their waking hours, and performing other medical interventions at the same time, can help eliminate stress. And it ensures patients are getting the rest they need, when they need it.