As our nation’s healthcare system goes through even more profound and complex changes, questions about the best way to deliver care and ensure a positive patient experience abound. Patient-centered care has gained renewed focus and attention among healthcare providers and patients alike, and through the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) program, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is advancing patient-centered care by giving patients an opportunity to voice their opinions.
Here are some ways you can improve your HCAHPS score and your patients’ satisfaction at the same time:
- Be Human
Much patient dissatisfaction occurs when providers seem indifferent. On past surveys, patients have reported things like…
- Lack of eye contact
- Med students hurrying self-importantly down the halls
- Being ignored by nurses who haven’t clocked in yet
… as things that make them feel they are not truly being cared for. Being human and actually caring about the people you are trying to help will go a long way toward improving patient satisfaction.
- Experience Your Practice from Your Patient’s POV
There’s no better way to know if you are delivering great patient care than to experience your own practice from your patients’ point of view. How easy is it getting in and out of your front door on crutches or in a wheelchair? Are signs and notices clear and legible? Is your waiting room pleasant and calming or do you have dusty plastic plants and bad music playing?
- Help Your Employees Understand Their Purpose
Each one of your employees has both a function – their day-to-day responsibilities – and a purpose – the larger reason their job exists. An example of a function is “to keep the exam rooms clean,” while the purpose is, “To create successful medical outcomes and superior human experiences.” See the difference? Your employees should, too.
- Try the “S” Word
Resolving patient issues isn’t necessarily a fun part of the job for your front office staff, but it’s an important one and leaves a lasting impression on your patients. When there are service lapses, as there will inevitably be, it’s important your staff takes responsibility, does not become defensive about said lapses, and says, “We’re very sorry for any inconvenience,” and MEAN it.
- Ensure Your Systems are Top Notch
While trying harder to be human and make your patients feel respected and cared for is of utmost importance, so are your systems. How is your technology working for you and your patients? Are your patient portals intuitive and easy to use? How is your scheduling system? Is it getting the job done or does it need to be overhauled? These technologies will also effect how your patients view your practice, so vet them heavily.
If you follow these 5 strategies, you will be able to continually deliver top-notch care.