Healthcare News & Insights

3 ways hospitals fail patients & how to prevent issues

Patient satisfaction and care are the most important aspects of any healthcare professional’s job – even if it doesn’t always feel like it, thanks to the rules and administrative burdens of the healthcare industry. Listening to patient feedback and making appropriate adjustments is essential to maintaining positive relationships with patients. 

Seriously ill patients often spend the most time dealing with hospitals and health systems, which makes them the perfect demographic to ask about the various failings of the industry.

And that’s exactly what the New York Times did, surveying nearly 1,500 seriously ill patients or caregivers of those patients about the obstacles they face when trying to figure out health care.

Where hospitals fail

The survey uncovered three main hurdles patients deal with during their healthcare journeys:

  1. Providers not tracking patients’ medical records. Patients who see multiple providers, especially if they’re at different organizations, often can’t rely on their doctors to have access to their full medical records. Most of the time, patients have to bring their records with them to ensure accurate care. If patients don’t bring their records with them, it can lead to unnecessary testing or treatment. Seventy-eight percent of the people surveyed said they bring a list of the medications they’re on to each appointment, and 70% said they bring a list of questions for their providers.
  2. Inability to navigate the system alone. Keeping track of appointments and treatments across different providers and hospitals is a complicated task, and many patients don’t feel like they can handle it by themselves. Luckily, some providers and payors have medical coordinators who help organize patients’ health services, and patients with medical coordinators are more likely to know the cost of their care. For those who don’t have access to coordinators, many bring friends or family members to appointments with them to help them keep track of the details, or ask for help from people they know who work in health care.
  3. Confusing, inattentive providers with conflicting opinions. Twenty-two percent of patients surveyed said hospital staffers weren’t attentive to their needs, and others received conflicting advice from different providers. Partially due to a lack of communication between providers, and the aforementioned lack of shared medical records, it can be hard for patients to know what advice to follow. To avoid these issues, encourage patients to ask questions, do outside research when possible and get second opinions.

With so many different obstacles that impact care delivery, it’s important for healthcare professionals to listen to what patients say and offer them the opportunities to speak up – whether it’s through informal conversations or patient satisfaction surveys.

Encourage your employees to check in with patients regularly to make sure they understand what’s going on, and promote openness and transparency at your facility whenever possible.

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