Tips for Improving Patient Experience
Prior to the pandemic, patients had certain expectations of their health care workers. Among them, they valued a health care provider they could trust, the coordination of how their care was handled, responsiveness from health care providers about their concerns and being courteous. For some, these were simple enough expectations. But then came the pandemic.
A combination of fear, misinformation, process changes, restricted visitation and other factors impacted the way patients were treated and how they perceived healthcare with the onset of the pandemic.
With the pandemic seemingly here for a while, it’s important to focus on how to improve the patient experience with or without it.
Tips for improving patient experience
In 2020, the healthcare experience was mostly about survival. With so many people fighting for their lives during the pandemic, doctors were forced to make decisions that impacted the survival of Covid patients, their families and themselves.
Covid-19 disrupted the way healthcare services were meant to be. Healthcare workers had to adapt to new care models, workflows and structures, all while trying to do their jobs well and maintain their own sanity.
These new models trumped processes that aimed at improving patients’ care experience, so things didn’t get done. Some patients never got seen. But to get a semblance of normalcy back in healthcare that would equate to a good patient experience, a few things would require more attention: communication, care access and coordination, responsiveness and team care.
Patients want a healthcare provider they can trust. Part of that trust lies heavily in the provider being empathetic, actively listening and taking the time to genuinely talk with the patient. That involves not seeming rushed but instead giving the patient the time they require to ensure they’ve been heard and their health is properly being cared for.
With the implementation of telehealth visits, communication has become a little more complicated. Practices for creating strong communication even in non-in-person visits must be taken seriously. That includes greater attention to vocal tone and tempo, facial expressions and body language, reflection, and being attentive to the patient, free of distractions during the entire visit.
Care access and coordination
As patients are starting to return to healthcare facilities, it’s important for them to know what to expect, from parking their car to exiting the facility. Clear language must be displayed that not only provides detailed expectations and instructions for the patient, but it should also be obvious that it’s the patient’s needs that are always the priority. They should feel that concern is in their best interest and that protocols have been taken for their benefit, especially to keep them safe during these uncertain times.
Being responsive to patients’ concerns should always be a top priority. We are still not out of the woods as variants of Covid-19 make their way through the homes of many. Patients will call, leave messages on portals, not all the time due to an emergency, but out of fear — fear and anxiety because they may not know what’s going on with a family member or themselves. Fear and anxiety can be calmed by a responsive healthcare provider. That can only happen with timely responsiveness and renewed empathy for the situation at hand. It is vital for healthcare facilities to put a process in place that allows for timely responses to patient questions and messages.
Care should take on a team-based structure. A patient should not have to get frustrated because of disconnects within the healthcare system. Once their needs have been communicated, it should be quickly communicated to all of the appropriate people. If a patient calls in with a need and it never made it through the appropriate channels, or if the nurse received the message but the doctor was completely left out of the loop, that is a problem. Essential patient information needs to be communicated efficiently and internally, and a plan of care should be developed around that need with the patient’s voice being front and center.
Team-based care also means planning for a patient’s care from the minute they are admitted, throughout their stay, up until days after they’re discharged. When a patient knows they’re leaving the hospital and are no longer in the hands of doctors, they want to know that they still have a lifeline, especially in the event of a Covid-19 patient. Team-based care does not stop at discharge.
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Whether you’re a talented physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or registered nurse interested in learning more about Tinkbird Healthcare Staffing or a facility or healthcare practice needing an excellent staffing resource for your organization, we want to hear from you! Plus, check our blog for more tips for improving patient experience and more helpful information!