Healthcare News & Insights

Improving patient satisfaction: Success stories from 2 hospitals

As patient satisfaction scores continue to play a role in hospital reimbursement, hospitals need to take every step they can to improve the patient experience as a whole. 

177852330 (1)Many hospital administrators and providers focus on improving patient care, and while it’s an admirable goal, better care doesn’t always mean a higher level of patient satisfaction.

When patients consider their hospital experience, they’re taking several different aspects into consideration, according to research from Healthgrades.

The research says patients think many issues are important, such as pain control, the clarity and quality of discharge instructions, and whether the doctor explains their medication.

But two key issues significantly affect their satisfaction with a hospital. When patients have issues communicating with healthcare providers or experience long wait times for care, this causes satisfaction scores to plunge. So it’s important for hospitals to hone in on these problems.

Curing dissatisfaction

Boosting patient satisfaction is important not only because it determines if a hospital will retain current patients, but it’s also a huge factor that influences whether patients will recommend a hospital to friends and family for care.

Here’s how two hospitals that were having trouble with patient satisfaction transformed, according to an article featured on FierceHealthcare.

Getting management involved

Park Ridge Health, a hospital in North Carolina, turned around its patient satisfaction numbers by making changes that put the patient at the center of their operations.

To start, the hospital revamped its customer service training program. The hospital put five behaviors at the center of its new program to help employees embody a better hospital culture — compassion, presentation, safety, efficiency and excellence. This change then led to other structural improvements in the hospital, according to an article on Some of the changes were:

  • installing an interactive system that let patients request help or let staff know if there was a problem with their room or food. When patients used the system, the average response time was five minutes. Giving patients a voice on matters, even minor issues, got them more involved overall with their health.
  • getting management involved during day-to-day operations. Each week, hospital leaders and management took one-hour shifts to help greet and help incoming patients. Among other benefits, this helped the execs get a better understanding of common challenges patients and staff were facing.

Letting patients know the hospital was there to hear them out really paid off for Park Ridge. In six years, the hospital went from having the lowest patient satisfaction in the area to the highest in the region, and the third highest in the state.

Restructuring old ER practices

For Springfield Regional Medical Center, long emergency department wait times were dragging down its patient satisfaction numbers, as described in an article in the Springfield News-Sun.

On average, patients waited in the ED for 61 minutes before finally being treated, prompting many to find care at other nearby hospitals. The low patient satisfaction wasn’t just affecting the patients, though. It was also hurting employee morale.

To fix these issues, the hospital redesigned its emergency department procedures. Rather than meet with security personnel initially, patients could now be seen by a hospital nurse first.

The hospital also began using a physician in triage in the waiting room. The physician would evaluate incoming patients right away to see what tests they needed — thus streamlining their care and cutting down the wait time to be treated.

Springfield Regional’s restructuring cut down the ED wait time from 61 minutes to 11 minutes. The changes also helped the hospital see more patients in the ED and cut down the overall visit time from 203 minutes to 189.

And, as a result, the hospital saw its patient satisfaction numbers rise 10% in the last year.

Trying similar tactics could boost your patient satisfaction scores, so it may be worth seeing if these strategies would be feasible for your hospital.

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