Hospitals are becoming more focused on improving the patient experience for several reasons. Among them: The Affordable Care Act includes patient satisfaction scores that can have a financial impact on hospitals.
In previous blog entries, we’ve talked about and how survey results can affect Medicare reimbursement. We’ve also talked about the registered by hospitals trying to survey their patients. Those entries all talked about gathering feedback at the end of a patient’s stay. So what are hospitals doing to go above and beyond to improve the experience before they take their survey?
According to the Healthgrades Analysis, hospitals and clinics are implementing new initiatives to improve responsiveness to patient needs, communication and pain control — all of which fall into the top three of what is most important to patients during hospitalization.
Hospitals also are doing some simple, thoughtful things they hope will improve their scores. For example, some facilities are asking staff to provide courtesy housekeeping knocks before entering a room, making sure never to walk past a room when a request light is on and even offering concierge and valet services.
Next Step: A New Office in the C-Suite
According to a Catalyst study of hospitals, improving patient satisfaction is the highest near-term goal — even topping patient safety and cost reduction. The responsibility for patient satisfaction typically is handed off to either a committee or even a Chief Nursing Officer.
But some hospitals are raising the ante by adding an extra seat into the C-suite: the CXO, or patient experience officer. While CXO is a relatively new title (there might be fewer than 200), adoption is said to be growing.
A CXO is the point person in patient satisfaction initiatives. His or her sole responsibility is to focus on patients and their families as potential returning customers. The CXO’s influence can cover multiple departments, including human resources and even IT, to make sure all departments are considering the patient experience.
Technology’s Role in Improving Patient Satisfaction
For CXOs and other hospital workers charged with improving the patient experience, technology offers several ways to improve staff responsiveness and communication with patients.
For example, paging systems can be used to manage patient waitlists seamlessly (and within federal privacy restrictions) while also eliminating unnecessary noise from overhead paging.
Or, hospitals can use staff paging for greater efficiency and responsiveness in taking care of patient needs. Hospitals also can use push-for-service pagers in patient rooms to keep patients and their families connected with staff at all times.
Near the end of their stays, patients can be offered tablet-based survey devices, a way for hospitals to gather immediate and detailed feedback while the experience is still fresh in patients’ minds.
Technology allows hospitals to take an active approach to improving experience on both the front and back ends of patients’ interaction. The emergence of CXOs shows hospitals are taking patient experience seriously, and CXOs need the right tools to get the job done.
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Skip Cass is the chief executive officer at LRS and an expert in operational efficiency and creating a memorable guest experience.