Healthcare News & Insights

10 low-cost ways to boost patient satisfaction

Many hospitals are trying to boost their scores on patient satisfaction surveys. Instead of trying huge, sweeping improvement campaigns, keep this in mind: It’s the little things that matter – and that’s straight from the patient’s mouths. 

ThinkstockPhotos-78606063Dr. Peter Pronovost, the senior VP for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins, wrote an article for U.S. News & World Report discussing ways that hospitals can improve patient satisfaction.

After a town hall meeting hosted by Johns Hopkins about patient-centered care, Dr. Pronovost heard from a patient who, while he was pleased with his overall care, had some suggestions for improvement.

Based on his suggestions, along with feedback directly from the hospital’s patient satisfaction surveys, Dr. Pronovost came up with 10 ways hospitals can improve patient care without spending millions of dollars on renovating patient rooms or other costly initiatives:

  1. Let patients sleep. A good night’s sleep is crucial to recovery. Waking patients for late-night vital sign checks is usually unnecessary. In cases where it’s essential for the patient’s treatment to interrupt their sleep, make it clear to the patient why this is the case.
  2. Keep noise levels down at the nurses’ station. This is especially important at night. Make sure to turn off everything but the necessary equipment at night so harsh glares and loud noises don’t disturb patients. And encourage staff to keep their voices down.
  3. Don’t lose patients’ personal belongings. Label every item a patient brings to the hospital with the person’s name and medical record number so nothing gets lost. Patients said they felt more at ease if the hospital took the effort to keep their belongings safe.
  4. Knock on the door before entering. Patients felt this was a sign the clinician or hospital staff member respected them and their privacy. It’s even better if the staff introduces themselves with their names and titles while shaking hands or making eye contact with the patient. Another tip: Refer to patients by their preferred names.
  5. Keep the whiteboard current and up-to-date. This allows patients to quickly review their daily care plan and know which providers will see them that day. To go the extra mile, give patients notebooks with their names and locations on the front. The patients can use them to make notes about what clinicians tell them and to store paperwork from doctors and nurses.
  6. Update patients and their families if anything changes with their condition. Open and honest communication is crucial. It reduces patient anxiety, which makes it more likely the patient will cooperate with treatments.
  7. Keep patient rooms clean. On a daily basis, housekeeping staff should mop the floors, wipe down surfaces, empty the wastebasket and scrub the bathroom. In addition, patients feel more at ease if cleaning staff introduce themselves to the patient before entering the room.
  8. Listen to patients and engage them in their care. Talk about the patient’s condition in clear language that’s free from medical jargon, and use terms the patient can easily understand. Making sure the patient is fully aware of the care plan is crucial for a complete recovery.
  9. Orient patients to their rooms and the hospital. Be sure patients know where everything important is located. Let them know everything from how to correctly use their television to what they need to do to order food and get their linens changed.
  10. Maintain professionalism at all times, in all areas of the hospital. Perception is a crucial part of patient satisfaction. Whether staff members are caring for the patient or not, they must be mindful of the image they’re presenting while they’re on hospital grounds.

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