Improving Patient and Family Satisfaction
HealthWare Systems Blog
on Thursday, May 2, 2019
Patient and family satisfaction are related. Patients’ family members can influence the patient experience and even health outcomes for the patient.
Here are a few ways you can improve both patient and family satisfaction at your facility:
Provide Extra Conveniences –
Trying to navigate through a large building full of many hallways and departments can add unnecessary stress to patients’ and families’ visits. So can wandering around the parking lot looking for their car and carrying all of their belongings to it at the end of their stay.
Implementing a wayfinding solution and a patient tracking system that can link the valet service to the discharge process can remove these stressors. These details will stand out in patients’ and family members’ minds as ways in which your facility goes the extra mile.
Make Comfort a Priority –
Patients’ family members will be spending a lot of time in your waiting area or in patients’ hospital rooms. The waiting area should be clean and hospitable in order to make a good first impression. For example, you might offer refreshments like coffee and water, current issues of magazines, games, puzzles, and/or free Wi-Fi to help them pass the time in comfort.
An article published by the journal Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) studied patients’ and family members’ opinions of different hospital room prototypes. The study found that privacy (having control over a curtain that blocks the room door; using the bathroom without visitors seeing or hearing), security (a safe to hold valuables; the ability to independently reach their own belongings), and a sense of connection to people (the capacity for visitors to sit close and have eye level conversations with patients; easy access to cell phones and outlets for charging them) are all appreciated room elements.
Lower Waiting Room Anxiety –
Families often feel worried while their loved one is undergoing a medical procedure. Much of their anxiety stems from uncertainty. A patient tracking board in the waiting area or real-time text updates can ease their nerves by informing them of their family member’s status at each stage (e.g. “in prep,” “in surgery,” “in recovery”) of the encounter.
Support Family Engagement –
It’s important to recognize the effects family members can have on a patient’s comfort and safety. After receiving a diagnosis or undergoing a procedure, patients are not always in the best frame of mind to absorb a clinician’s instructions. Family members can offer support during a difficult time and help ensure directions are followed and medicine is taken correctly.
Improving the discharge process is one way you can better engage family members. Allow adequate time for discharge instructions and questions from patients and family members. It’s vital to patient and family satisfaction that they do not feel rushed or abandoned as they prepare to leave the security of the hospital. Plus, including informal family caregivers in the discharge process can lower readmissions by 25 percent.
Family Satisfaction Surveys –
In addition to the typical patient satisfaction surveys, collect feedback specific to the experience of patients’ family members. Ask family members to complete a satisfaction survey and post your scores on your website to attract new patients.
Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) –
Go one step further and invite patients and family members to actively participate in improving the patient and family experience at your facility by joining a PFAC. PFACs include administrators, clinicians, and staff; but at least 50% of the members are patients, and family members of patients, who have received care from your organization. They offer a unique perspective for improvements.
Each of these ideas shows patients’ family members that your organization values them and the role they play in the care and recovery of the patient. These strategies also give you the opportunity to make a positive impression on family members who may choose your facility for their own health needs in the future.
Focusing on the family’s perspective can help you attract new patients, improve patient safety and health outcomes, reduce hospital readmission rates, and increase both patient and family satisfaction.