Patient Satisfaction: Why It Matters to Staff Nurses

Often, when I interact with staff nurses and other front line patient care providers, and the topic of patient satisfaction comes up, I get the rolling-eyes look and the response that they can't possibly help turn the numbers around more than they're already doing.

Background for those not living in this environment. Like almost any industry, hospitals want their customers to be satisfied customers. So we sample them and gather the responses to learn what we do well and what we can improve. Here's where healthcare differs. There is now a federal government mandate (do not get me started on federal government mandates, I warn you!) to have these "patient experience" figures reported publicly on a government web site, Hospital Compare at  http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/ 

Of course, that is just the start. Next shoe to drop is a proposal out for review, and extremely likely to be included in any healthcare bill passed this year or next. Hospitals will have a big chunk of their Medicare payments withheld, and they will have the opportunity to "earn" back some of those dollars IF their patient experience scores are better than those of their peers. For a large health system, we're talking seven figures a year. So this is critically important stuff.

Back on topic. Patient care providers, I find, tend to need a better set of tools in their dealing with their patients, in order to positively impact satisfaction and the resulting scores. Vendors (like Press Ganey) can help. Another great source is Wendy Leebov's nice site, The Quality Patient Experience at http://www.quality-patient-experience.com/

I encourage care providers, and anyone else interested in this topic, to check out Wendy's tools. Please feel free to comment below  on what you find to work or fail in enhancing the patient experience.

DRY
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