Healthcare providers are working diligently to improve patient satisfaction and care. The patient experience care is an essential quality domain used to evaluate hospital performance under the 2016 CMS Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program (it accounts for 25% of a hospital’s VBP score)—and it carries the risk of a penalty or bonus. Although there are contradictions in how the sector distinguishes the patient experience, research shows a clear link between enhancing patient care and delivering outstanding care. Health systems have the appropriate motivation (the Triple Aim), incentives (CMS), tools (HCAHPS).
Below are five main guidelines that can significantly improve patient experience in health systems.
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1. Enhance transparency to improve outcomes of patients
Enhancing the patient experience appears to be a sensible strategy to better outcomes. If a patient has a positive attitude toward their doctor and the care provided, they are more likely to follow treatment plans. However, even if a patient has a positive experience, they may still receive a negative outcome, such as cancer treatment. Patient satisfaction should be a balancing factor in healthcare systems, not as a driver of outcomes.
Balance measures enable health care managers to make significant improvements in quality of care while keeping potential negative consequences in mind. Using patient experience as a balance measure assists healthcare organizations in ensuring that progress in one area does not harm other areas.
2. Assess your clinician team; not individual providers
It is becoming increasingly clear that the environment and working conditions can significantly affect patient outcomes. A survey of nurse practitioners’ environments in the US, for example, discovered a strong correlation between better care environments (better staffing, investments in staff development, quality management, frontline manager supervisory ability, and good relationships with physicians) and lower patient mortality.
The most appropriate surveys capture the overall care experience; rather than asking specific questions about individual care interactions, they collect data as a whole. When negative scores are credited to individual providers, there is opposition to patient satisfaction methods and the resulting integrity of the data. Surveys should assess more than just individual providers; they should determine the entire care team and ask questions like, “How did your nurses and physicians get along?”
3. Encourage more accurate diagnoses
Effective treatment and path to a positive patient outcome begin with an accurate and timely diagnosis. Typically, when a patient visits a doctor, the first few minutes determine the subsequent treatment steps – directly influencing the treatment’s success and cost. This emphasizes the importance of having a quick and reliable decision-making process for diagnosis. Conversely, the diagnosis can be a particularly difficult task. There is the likelihood of human error and faults caused by the system itself. Physicians can make cognitive errors, such as focusing too quickly on a particular condition and ignoring or misreading contrasting information and data for too long. The more extensive healthcare system may also contribute to clinical errors through data loss, misunderstandings, or delays when forwarding information within a hospital and external facilities providing follow-up care.
4. Leverage innovative technology
Healthcare technology advancements are transforming the patient experience. Healthcare organizations can use innovative techniques to enhance patient experience. From interactive tools to real-time location service technology that improves patient flow and reduces wait times, among others:
- Communication devices and electronic patient evaluations that provide real-time alerts to staff.
- Patients receive critical information about their care from interactive education systems.
- Patients can customize their environment in waiting rooms, exam rooms, and high-stress therapies using smart rooms.
5. Enhance employee engagement
Healthcare organizations increasingly recognize and comprehend the impact of employee engagement on the patient experience. Many healthcare organizations have established the position of Chief Patient Experience Officer to improve patient experience, from facility design to employee training and engagement initiatives: They have discovered a critical link between engaged, satisfied employees and satisfied patients. The patient experience will suffer if there isn’t an involved staff, a suitable system and techniques to make data-driven decisions, and a culture dedicated to attaining the Triple Aim. Good patient satisfaction scores reflect an organization’s overall health, including its employees.
Many countries have implemented electronic health records (EHRs), which provide a shared platform for decision-making among patients and doctors. Patient updating of personal electronic medical records enhances patient engagement and satisfaction. Healthcare providers who establish stronger bonds with their patients and contribute independently to their patient journey can improve overall long-term patient outcomes.