Healthcare News & Insights

Patient satisfaction: How new rooms boosted one hospital’s scores

Because payors are putting more weight on patient satisfaction scores for hospital reimbursement, a growing trend in hospitals is designing facilities to make patients and their families feel more comfortable.

482425425As a strategy to increase patient satisfaction, some hospitals have specifically focused on redesigning patient rooms. And several of these hospitals have reaped the benefits of shifting away from traditional hospital design.

Example: When building a new facility, the University Medical Center of Princeton surveyed patients and staffers about what room features they’d like to have, according to an article in the New York Times.

The hospital used these responses to change the layout of patient rooms, making them more friendly to patients, visitors and staff.

Key features it incorporated include:

  • Privacy. All rooms are singles, so patients aren’t sharing a room with strangers. The rooms also have extra space to accommodate visiting family members and friends, with a foldout sofa for overnight guests.
  • Open space. Rooms were designed with large windows that gave patients and visitors a view of the outdoors.
  • Drug delivery. Prescription drug “lockboxes” were placed in each room. Pharmacists could drop off medications in the boxes, and nurses could unlock them when it was time to dispense meds.
  • Better room layout. All equipment in each hospital room is located in exactly the same place, so doctors and nurses can instinctively reach for buttons without having to remember where they’re located. And for patient safety, there are handrails between the bed and the bathroom so there’s less of a chance of falling.

Also, the sinks in the rooms were strategically placed so patients can see whether doctors and nurses are washing their hands properly.

Higher patient satisfaction

In terms of patient satisfaction, making these improvements has already paid off for the University Medical Center of Princeton.

Before shifting all patients to the new rooms, the hospital created models of the new rooms and ran tests comparing patient satisfaction scores from patients in the old rooms to those admitted to the model rooms.

Even though all patients received the same nursing care and ate the same food, the ones in the newer rooms rated these aspects more favorably than the ones in the old rooms did.

Another positive change: Patients in the new rooms needed 30% less pain medication than patients in the old rooms.

And now that all patients have been moved to the new facility where all rooms are designed like the model rooms, the hospital’s patient satisfaction scores are in the 99th percentile. Before, patient satisfaction ranked in the 61st percentile.

Making similar patient-centered improvements in your hospital may have long-term benefits that outweigh the short-term costs, especially if you’re already thinking of upgrading or switching facilities.

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