5 Tips for Boosting Patient Satisfaction after COVID-19
August 23, 2021
Patient care has seen a tremendous shift in the last year due to COVID-19. Healthcare workers are pushed to the brink of exhaustion and more open to leaving their current positions. Hospitals not only are having to deal with high staff turnover and position openings, but they are also dealing with a record-breaking number of patients entering hospitals daily. Unfortunately, the weaknesses and inefficiencies of our healthcare system are now top-of-mind for patients.
Healthcare executives need to put patient satisfaction and experience at the forefront, especially following the increase in hospitalizations from COVID-19. For hospital staff to move forward from the impact of COVID-19, they will need to adjust patient care and their overall experience in the hospital. Below are tips that can assist healthcare executives in boosting patient satisfaction.
Outside Patient Care Options
With the healthcare system adapting due to COVID-19, there are now many other patient care options outside the traditional hospital setting. Healthcare has shifted to patients' homes and communities. With the introduction of outside patient care options, patients now have more opportunities to visit a doctor without going into the hospital. Some of the other options include:
Telehealth has become a trending healthcare model, especially since the insurgence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. It is the latest advancement in healthcare technological innovation. Telehealth gives patients more access to healthcare services no matter where they are. Telehealth provides access to patients in distant locations, is cost-effective, supports the care continuum, and can help with a high demand of patients.
2. Home Health
Home health care has made significant advances in the last few years, making it a popular choice among many types of patients with unique needs. Primarily due to COVID-19, the home health industry has skyrocketed in demand. Home health care gives patients a more personal experience and can influence their nurse's quality and thoroughness of care. The range of care services a patient can receive at home is limitless. Home health care can often be less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as hospital care. Home Health aides can help with everyday necessities such as getting out of bed, walking, bathing, and dressing.
3. Post-acute Care
This includes long-term hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and other facilities that patients can go to instead of immediate hospital care or after they are discharged from their initial facility. With telehealth's introduction, it has gotten easier for hospitals to contact and maintain a relationship with post-acute patients once they leave the hospital.
4. Outpatient Surgery Centers
As COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the country, physicians are working to convert America’s surgery centers into critical care units for patients. More than 5,000 outpatient surgery centers have lessened the number of elective procedures they perform, leaving surgery centers opened with space and staff who can assist with patient care as they are well equipped to handle an influx of patients. Using outpatient centers could double the number of facilities available nationwide.
Focus on Staff Retention
Studies have shown that adequate staffing levels and proper patient-to-nurse ratios are essential in having high levels of patient satisfaction. When nursing staff has a more increased workload due to limited staff, they have less time to dedicate towards patients. Hospitals should first focus on the proper nurse-to-patient ratio and ensure their nurses' skill level and expertise are the highest they can be. Healthcare executives must provide a framework for their staff to split responsibilities and maintain adequate work levels. They should be encouraged to share ideas with their executive team on managing a staff properly and providing an even higher level of care for their patients.
Utilize Technology and Other Resources
This past year, the patient experience has changed drastically with a much greater reliance on new technology. The pandemic has shown that legacy systems have not maintained a positive patient experience and exposed the areas that need improvement. Advances in technology have aided the patient experience in hospitals across the country. So many devices assist hospital staff with new ways to communicate, schedule, interact, and visit.
New technology can have a significant impact on having a high-quality patient experience. Hospital technologies can include the implementation of electronic health records, telemedicine platforms, and smartphone applications. Patients can also benefit from introducing these new technologies as these applications can help personalize their experience and let them have more control over their care. A dynamic patient portal can provide patients with the ability to access critical information about their health. Patients' satisfaction will increase as patients are more involved with their health and care.
Use Staffing Services to Improve Staff Levels
With patient care at the forefront, many hospitals look outside their usual pool of nursing graduates and find other ways to fill nurse vacancies. Utilizing staffing agencies to augment your core staff can be a practical approach. While per diem and travel nurses offer short-term help, negative patient experiences can occur with someone not invested in the hospital's mission or culture. International nurses can be an innovative long-term solution that helps build core staff overtime and provide proper patient ratios. Patient care suffers when nurses burn out or feel undervalued at their positions, leading them to make preventable mishaps. Having the stability of a long-term international nurse can help improve the retention of the current staff.
Partnering with staffing companies such as Avant Healthcare Professionals, who hire international nurses, hospitals will aid their nursing staff by reducing stress caused by the shortage. In turn, it can provide patients higher quality care by having more access to experienced healthcare professionals.
Improve Overall Patient Experience
The patient experience begins when they walk through the hospital's door, and the second, a nurse starts to care for them. The state of the world in 2020 - 2021 deeply impacted the patient experience, and the state of patient care was changed forever. Now we need to focus on what hospitals can do to improve the patient experience.
1. Effective Communication
Patients have high expectations when entering hospitals. Patients want to make sure those taking care of them are on the same page and communicate everything correctly. Patients want to make sure their concerns are acknowledged and listened to, especially those caring for them. Therefore, hospital staff must be encouraged by their superiors to improve their bedside manner through effective and efficient communication. Patients will also reciprocate this if they feel their nurses listen to them and consider their feelings.
2. Proper Documentation
Documentation is essential for healthcare professionals and the patients they care for at their facility. They must have the tools and resources to document their treatment plan correctly. Healthcare professionals must appropriately document a patient's progress, medications doses, and treatment plans during their entire stay. Especially with little help within hospitals, proper documentation can improve communication among a healthcare team. New strategies in place can also speed up transitioning patients in and out of the hospital.
3. Promote Productivity
Nursing staff should be on top of all details provided to them about their patients. They should be able to lean on their coworkers to assist them with patient care. Nurses are responsible for patients' point-of-contacts, hearing patient concerns, questions, and complaints. These duties can overwhelm a nurse that is responsible for multiple patients at once. It would be in a hospital's best interest to put procedures in place to encourage communication between all nursing staff members to provide more comprehensive care.
The Bottom Line
Patient satisfaction and care should be the hospital's top priority as the nursing shortage has had a massive impact on a hospital's inner workings. With the proper protocols and training in place, registered nurses and other healthcare staff must ensure that patients are satisfied with their care at the facility. There are multiple strategies healthcare executives can implement to improve their facilities' overall patient experiences. These tips will benefit not only the patients who come to the hospital but also their nursing staff.