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.
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