As defined by The Beryl Institute, patient experience “is the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.” This definition suggests that a patient’s overall experience is based on much more than just the effectiveness of the medical care and treatment he or she receives.
Making the patient experience your top priority as a nurse not only benefits individual patients and their families, but also affects the results of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, thus establishing a reputation for your medical facility.
How Nurses Can Improve Patient Experience
Nurses have endless opportunities when it comes to enhancing the patient experience. The following are five examples of how nurses can establish a positive patient experience, higher HCAHPS results and a facility’s reputation.
Engage in compassionate communication with patients.
Exceeding conversation, patient-provider communication is founded on an understanding of trust and a desire to comfort. Christy Dempsey, chief nursing officer for Press Ganey, suggests that a patient’s situational stress and fear can cause misunderstandings and inverse perceptions when speaking with medical professionals. “Patients are scared to death. They don’t know what’s going to happen to them, they don’t know if it’s going to hurt, they don’t know if they can afford it,” Dempsey says. Nurses can strive to achieve trust and a personal connection with their patients through compassion.
Include patients’ families as much as possible.
Patients undergoing both outpatient and inpatient procedures are often accompanied by family members who can be harshly critical when it comes to the care provided to their loved ones. According to the Amplion Clinical Communications Study, accompanying family members often submit experience ratings that are much lower than the patient’s experience rating. To ensure a patient’s family members report satisfactory experiences, it’s vital that they feel included in conversations, have their questions thoroughly answered and are regularly updated on the patient’s status.
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Work as a team to ensure all patient needs are met.
Providing medical care quickly and effectively cannot be done without the full participation of the entire nursing staff. According to trends in HCAHPS scores, strong nursing staff teamwork correlates with highly rated patient experiences. Because patients are often cared for by different nurses throughout the course of their treatment, it’s important that individual nurses adopt a team-driven attitude to provide patients with top-notch care, thorough communication and accurate information.
Don’t neglect routines.
Capable of influencing a patient’s overall perception of a medical facility, cleanliness plays a major role in patient comfort. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s director of environmental services, Larry Garrone, suggests that one way nurses care for their patients is by practicing cleanliness and proper hygiene. Although medical professionals are often faced with on-the-job emergency situations and sudden agenda changes, it’s vital that basic routines are followed to keep work stations and patient rooms clean and adequately stocked.
Provide patient education.
While nurses strive to care for multiple patients during a single shift, it’s not uncommon for patient education to trickle down the priority list. However, not having clear answers to medical questions can certainly contribute to patient stress. Nurses can ease that stress and establish a sense of trust and security by compassionately providing patients with accurate medical information.
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