5 Qualities for Building Strong Patient Relationships in Your Hospital

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HealthWare Systems Blog

5 Qualities for Building Strong Patient Relationships in Your Hospital

Posted on Wed, Sep 21, 2016

Most patients don’t expect perfection from their local hospital. They understand that waits can be long, illnesses are uncomfortable, and that doctors and nurses are generally doing the best they can under challenging conditions. What they do expect, however, is that they are treated with respect, sincerity, and dignity, and that loved ones feel included in the necessary steps for a patient’s healing.  While these concepts seem like common sense, carrying them out consistently is sometimes difficult. Building strong patient relationships depends heavily on that consistent and sincere interaction.

Thanks to current technology, there are now new options for building strong connections between patients and hospitals. By adopting a few no-nonsense policies of interaction and utilizing some of the innovative technological tools available to hospitals today, you and your team can work to inspire feelings of trustworthiness and dependability within patients—even if you can’t guarantee a positive outcome for every person who walks through the door.

Below are five key approaches to patient interaction that will have long-reaching results, especially when combined with the technology to reinforce them and extend their influence.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

To build a strong bond of trust between patients and hospital, you have to be honest and not make any promises you can’t keep. If you’re uncertain about wait times, provide patients with as much information as you can and simply be honest. If you’re unsure, you’re unsure, but acknowledging patients and letting them know you haven’t forgotten about them goes a long way.

Technology can help in these instances too, such as the ActiveTRACK patient tracking system. ActiveTRACK displays information to the whole lobby on a TV screen, which shows patients their position in the queue relative to other waiting patients. Knowing these details helps patients feel more in control and, ultimately, more satisfied with their experience.

Communicate clearly and often.

According to a recent study from the Institute of Medicine, one of the six fundamental  aims for healthcare is a patient-centered approach—and communication is a quintessential element of patient interaction. Effective communication should extend from pre-visit to post-visit for all patients. Emergency room (ER) patients are sometimes one-time only visits, but following up with those patients goes a long way in establishing a long-term rapport.

Remember, your patients talk to each other and have families. Your hospital’s standing is a community-wide average of opinions and every interaction counts—especially since social media ensures that everyone’s opinion is broadcast to the world. Let that technology work for you by setting up social media sites and encouraging Likes on Facebook. Extend your own internal capabilities by using email to confirm patient appointments and texts to follow up those confirmations. These are tools no hospital should disregard.

More advanced systems like ActiveTRACK can be integrated into your existing software and even have built-in tools for communicating with patients, such as an automatic text notification feature. If a patient has just come out of surgery and is ready to receive visitors, your doctors can have a pre-approved text sent out to all family members immediately upon that status change to let them know their loved one is ready to see them. Little things like that can have a huge impact on a patient’s trust in your hospital.

Strive for transparency.

In communicating with your patients more clearly and consistently, you set up a foundation for overall transparency. The key is to open up to patients with as much information as you can, while still protecting patient privacy. This means acknowledging certain issues with patients—especially those who frequent your hospital regularly due to chronic illness or elderly concerns. Speaking with these patients, really digging into details about their experiences with your hospital, can help you build a better understanding of how to implement solutions to their concerns.

Listen.

Your patients are all around you, every day. While some really are just angry, sick, or hurt, others are frequent visitors and they see the workings of your hospital from an outside perspective in a way that you may not. You can conduct your own polls via email or online surveys, or through simple conversation, to better understand your patients’ needs. The key is to really listen. While you cannot solve every problem, sometimes listening and acknowledging that you’ve heard your patients’ concerns can make a huge difference.

Make it easy.

Finally, the most important thing you can do to build better patient relationships is to make it easy—on yourself as well as the patients. Technology is a major tool in this battle. It can’t be escaped any longer, particularly for the healthcare industry, where Electronic Health Records (EHR) are now an industry standard. Don’t let technology be a barrier or work against you. Seize it as an opportunity to improve overall patient satisfaction within your hospital.

Technology like the ActiveTRACK software described above can help you with direct patient interaction. Other programs, such as HealthWare’s ActiveDEFENDER, a tool for ensuring accuracy in patient records and for keeping medical personnel on track with patient needs, can act internally to help your staff better manage patient needs—resulting in both less stress for your staff and increased patient satisfaction as patients get what they need when they need it.

Whether your hospital is currently experiencing issues with patient relationships or you’re simply hoping to stay ahead of the curve by building greater patient satisfaction over the long term, consider solutions that include the qualities above and the right technological tools to smooth the way for greater patient interaction. Both your patients and your hospital staff will be happy with adjustments that mean less stress and greater communication for all parties.


By Ashley Choate Professional Healthcare Blog Writer

Patient Satisfaction Rule #1: Don’t Keep Patients Waiting

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Patient Satisfaction Rule #1: Don’t Keep Patients Waiting

Posted on Wed, Sep 14, 2016

According to a study featured in The American Journal of Managed Carepatient wait times have a significant influence on overall patient satisfaction and even on patients’ perception of the quality of care received. Unfortunately, a 2013 survey by Software Advice found that 97% of patients are frustrated with wait times. Of those surveyed, 22% even said they’d pay extra money to avoid wait times altogether.

It’s often the little things that make a big difference when you’re tending sick or injured patients and their loved ones. And the waiting room happens to be an integral part of the “little things” in any hospital experience.

While your goal may not be to eliminate patient wait times completely, you can make the patient waiting experience much easier, and shorter, with these steps:

•Do What You Can Before Patient Arrival

Ensuring all registration paperwork and other patient records are up-to-date and ready to go before the patient arrives is essential for a smooth patient check-in and transition to treatment. All pre-arrival documentation needs to be reviewed and on file prior to the patient’s date of service.  Is there a physician order in-house and is it complete?  Is insurance verification finished, pre-authorization on file, and medical necessity accounted for?

For scheduled visits, every little step you can do beforehand should be done so that your patients aren’t delayed by incomplete paperwork or insurance verification hiccups when they arrive.

Don’t Overschedule

Another key component of reducing wait times is effective scheduling management.  For scheduled appointments, a strictly enforced scheduling, tardiness, and no-show policy can prevent wasted blocks of time. Scheduling staff should also leave a bit of space open to make room for the unexpected or unpredictable. Most importantly, don’t double book or overschedule if your goal is to increase patient satisfaction and improve wait times.

Be Honest and Realistic with Waiting Patients

Effective communication is essential for waiting patients. Software Advice reported that 80% of patients would feel less frustrated if they knew how long they’d be waiting.

If there’s a problem, make it known and provide alternatives. For example, the same survey conducted by Software Advice revealed that 41% of patients would be willing to see another doctor at the facility if doing so would shorten their wait.  Communication and flexibility can make a huge difference in patients’ opinions of your hospital —because it shows you care about their time. Patients appreciate a hospital that appreciates them.

One way to communicate with your waiting patients is through the use of an internal patient tracking system.  Healthware Systems’ ActiveTRACK, for instance, pairs a patient tracking system with a display screen mounted in the waiting room or lobby area. Each patient is assigned a number for protection of privacy, but every number’s status is visible for all to see on the screen, allowing patients and family members to better gauge the remaining wait time when they see where they stand in comparison to the other patients’ numbers. In addition, ActiveTRACK can provide family members with real-time updates on the progress of their loved one’s visit, which are sent directly to their mobile phones even when they are outside the facility.

Such tools can also be powerful allies for hospital staff; they increase efficiency and save staff time by providing visibility and open communication for all departments, which eliminates the need for internal emails and phone calls concerning patient status.

Make Use of Technology

Today, there are IT healthcare solutions for nearly every issue.  Have you considered using technology, like that described above, to reduce your patient wait times?

According to a 2015 Vitals report, depending on your state, average patient wait times vary from 15 minutes to over 23 minutes (and may be higher when broken down by city or specialty).  Imagine if your patients waited an average of only 3 minutes. Sounds unrealistic?  One Illinois hospital reached this benchmark and cut patient wait times by 50%—a staggering reduction gained from the integration of an effective patient tracking system.

The very beginning of a patient’s experience sets the stage for his/her perception of the entire encounter.  Make sure each patient’s visit gets off to a good start by keeping patient wait times as short as possible, and you will see an improvement in patient satisfaction, and with it, a greater patient retention rate.


By Ashley Choate Professional Healthcare Blog Writer