3 Tips to Improving Patient Satisfaction Through Your Staff
In recent years, legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, among others, has changed the focus of healthcare from bottom-line outcomes to overall quality of care. As a result, decision-makers now seem to constantly obsess over how to improve patient satisfaction scores, which, aside from percentage of positive outcomes, are one of the determining factors in who gets or loses money -- not to mention how much.
In fact, according to HealthLeaders Media’s 2013 Industry Survey, over half (54%) of healthcare executives say patient satisfaction is one of their top three priorities.
As executives search for effective solutions, many are finding them in-house; research shows that a strong patient experience is largely driven by engaged and satisfied employees, so much so that almost 70% of healthcare leaders plan to center their patient experience initiatives around refocusing their employees.
Here are three strategies to help improve the culture of your workforce with patient experience in mind.
#1 Listen to your Staff and Assess the Current Situation
Institutionalizing real change begins with individuals in leadership positions finding ways to accurately assess the current culture of a hospital or clinic’s entire workforce, from the senior-level down to the cafeteria dishwasher. Are employees overworked? Do processes function effectively? Is there burnout? Is the work fulfilling? Why or why not? Taking time to listen to the experiences of the people -- not just taking surveys -- is the first step in creating a new vision to work toward.
While some organizations have the in-house capability to get solid feedback from their human resources, many companies seek outside coaching or consulting firms that specifically handle employee engagement because they aren’t attached to internal processes or outcomes; they offer a fresh, objective perspective based on strategies proven by results.
Plus, the best firms can help add millions of dollars to your bottom line by not only getting employees to be more productive, but giving them good reasons to stay for the long haul, which saves the cost of recruiting.
#2 Get People to Work in the Moment
Circumstances often create situations that shorten people’s patience, especially in a stressful and pressure-packed environment such as a hospital. Perhaps a co-worker called out at the last minute, leaving the staff a little thin, or tests are taking a while to come back. Of course, when all that happens, the waiting room starts to get full and people not only get antsy, but they complain.
While those types of situations do make it a little tougher to render service with a smile, having employees trained to put aside the outside factors and offer their undivided attention along with some compassion and grace can go a long way to balancing out the long wait.
#3 Harness the Power of Teamwork
As clinical care has become more complex and specialized, teamwork and clear communication has never been more important. Studies show that having a culture of effective collaboration not only decreases medical errors, but also reduces burnout.
Though moving toward a team-oriented approach can create challenges, especially in a work environment where the physician is traditionally the head honcho and last word, appropriately training staff to navigate all the moving parts without ego getting in the way can be the key to making sure the ship runs smoothly.
Plus, to patients, team care can seem less personal, even if it is more effective. Lessen that feeling by making sure team members don’t miss a beat during shift changes.
How Patient Satisfaction Impacts the Bottom Line
Patient satisfaction can make or break the annual report. The most common tool used to measure patient satisfaction is the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, and research shows that it places up to $850,000 in revenue at risk per year and could lead to over $5 million in additional annual revenue.
Plus, focusing on improving quality of patient care can increase patient loyalty, which is often overlooked. Studies show that losing one patient costs the equivalent of losing $200,000.
To learn more about how we can help you build your patient satisfaction scores through your current workforce, contact us at Info@DavidCouperConsulting.com to set up a complimentary consultation.
Josh Espinosa is a freelance writer and designer. He also founded the Approachable Music project, a music education program on a mission to make learning to play easier and more efficient.