What is the Patient Experience?
Learning how to improve patient experience represents the overall range of interactions between a patient and their healthcare provider. This includes the medical care or assistance they receive from their healthcare providers. Patient experience can also be described as the “framework of healthcare”. It traces the patient’s journey from health to the onset of disease, and through multiple encounters with healthcare services.
With excellent patient-centered care, healthcare providers will see increased consistency in patient adherence to medical advice, and improvement in clinical outcomes, and better patient safety practices.
How to Improve Patient Experience for Healthcare Organizations
1. Effectively communicate with patients and families
As a healthcare provider, taking the time to effectively communicate and understand a patient and family’s concerns can play a strong role in inviting the patient to be an active participant in their own care.
Communication plays a strong role in creating a positive patient experience. Some effective communication strategies to keep in mind are:
- Make personal connections by asking a patient about themselves or sitting next to them while talking.
- Support patient education by asking patients to repeat a concept, set of instructions, or other health information in their own words.
- Use technology tools such as bedside tablets to provide entertainment for patients, give information, and enhance patient education.
Family involvement also has the potential to drastically improve patient care. Studies have shown that when family members actively participate in care coordination, it improves consistency, accuracy, and safety.
For example, one study found that family members gave new information 46% of the time when present during rounds, helping to increase the quality of care provided to the patient.
2. Implement safety huddles to improve communication between care teams
Safety huddles are a key tool for healthcare organizations to reduce patient harm. Safety huddle meetings are a time for care teams to discuss patient safety events, relay information about areas of safety concern (such as short staffing, equipment, or inventory), and establish safety goals as a team.
Implementing safety huddles helps establish a sense of accurate and consistent communication between staff members, which can go a long way in improving the patient experience. For instance, when staff is transitioning between shifts, huddles help ensure that information regarding a patient’s status is effectively communicated so that the patient experiences a seamless continuity of care. Patients tend to feel more in control of their care when they are confident that their new care teams are up to date on their health status, medical conditions, and next steps.
Continuity of care is defined as the sound, timely, unfragmented, and seamless transition of a patient from one care team to another, from one area to another within the same healthcare facility, or from one healthcare facility to another.
In this way, huddles empower and engage frontline staff in problem identification and build a culture of collaboration that enhances a care team’s ability to deliver safer care.
3. Create channels for patients to provide feedback
Creating multiple channels for feedback makes it easier for patients to share ideas for improvement, as well as celebrate what is working effectively for the patients and families involved.
Healthcare teams should consider various methods other than simply sending an email to interact with patients and gain feedback. For example, a patient could fill out a feedback form on a tablet or desktop device before they leave the facility. Alternatively, they could scan a QR code in the waiting area or receive an SMS text notification prompting them to fill out a patient feedback survey a few days after their visit.
Improving patient experience is an important part of achieving high-quality outcomes in healthcare. Using the 3 strategies above, healthcare organizations can improve their patient's overall experience and create safer environments for care to evolve.
How to Improve Patient Experience: Performance Health Partners Solutions
By following these steps, healthcare organizations can greatly improve the patient experience, leading to higher quality outcomes and healthier patients. Using a technology solution to track patient feedback, employee engagement and satisfaction, and incident reporting for patient safety can help healthcare organizations of all types create the most positive experience possible for their patients.