Archive for January, 2013

Effective Communication is an Integral Part of Healing Process

Posted on January 31, 2013. Filed under: Communication, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

ImageSuccessful medical encounters require effective communication between the patient and the physician. “Success” implies that the patient and physician have developed a partnership and the patient has been fully educated in the nature of his or her condition and the different methods to address the problem. This allows the patient to be actively involved in the decision-making process and establishes agreed upon expectations and goals.

Ineffective Communication Can Cause Adverse Drug Effects

According to a study done by Dr. Neda Ratanawongsa, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at University of California, San Francisco finds that ineffective communication is a major reason patients don’t properly take medication as prescribed. Communication matters. Thirty percent of people in the study were not necessarily taking their medications the way their doctors thought they were,” said Ratanawongsa in a university news release.

Patients Who Trust Their Doctors Take Better Care of Themselves

“Rates for non-adherence were 4 to 6 percent lower for patients who felt their doctors listened to them, involved them in decisions and gained their trust. By supporting doctors in developing meaningful relationships with their patients, we could help patients take better care of themselves,” she added. The study authors reached their conclusions after giving questionnaires to more than 9,000 patients who took drugs to lower their blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol. They completed items on how they communicated with their doctors, and the researchers checked their prescription records to see if they were properly taking their medications.

Andrew Karter, a senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente research division who assisted with the study, pointed out what was unique about the findings. “We found that medication adherence is better if the physician has established a trusting relationship with the patient and prioritizes the quality of communication, even if that communication is not specifically focused on medication adherence,” he said in the news release.

Quality of the Encounter is Most Important

Many models have been developed to assist healthcare providers in developing approaches to improve their ability to communicate with their patients. These models focus on improvement in the quality of the encounter and do not necessarily require any significant increased investment in the length of the encounter. These approaches have been demonstrated to improve patient satisfaction and also allow the provider to demonstrate empathy, concern and humanism.

Healthcare Providers Should Cultivate Communication Skills to Build Trust

Communication skills allow the healthcare provider to build trust, promote healing, and ultimately improve outcomes. Interestingly, not only do successful encounters improve patient outcomes they have also been shown to improve professional satisfaction. These skills lead to professional respect among the physician’s peers and result in patients seeking care from these providers. Finally, interviews with patients who have filed malpractice suits against their physicians often site poor communication and lack of empathy as a factor in pursuing legal action.

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Patient Satisfaction Can Be EASY…?

Posted on January 24, 2013. Filed under: Communication, HCAHPS, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

Christy Whipple
“You call them small things, but I call them easy things. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be fixed…” 

Patient satisfaction is based on what? Patient perception.

Clinton Memorial Hospital CEO Mark Dooley said conversations with patients revealed when they are dissatisfied, it is typically not with clinical quality. Their discontent is with response time to answering a call light, limited communication from the nursing staff, lack of personal connection with the hospital staff. All of these add up to cause a patient to perceive that he is not valued.

Small Things = Easy Improvements

Dooley claims that this perception is not only in hospitals’ control, but one of the easier things to fix. “You call them small things, but I call them easy things. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be fixed,” Dooley said. “I know there’s some image rebuilding we need to do. We have to take care of those needs, do the right things, treat patients the right way.”

Communication Improves Perception

Patient satisfaction and patient centered care go beyond patient needs and incorporate what patients perceive as quality of care. Effective and fluid communication between patients, patient families, and nursing staff, as well as staff efficiency and accessibility, play key roles in determining how patients view their stay at your hospital, and whether they will recommend your facility to their friends and loved ones. Poor communication or miscommunication, as well as lack of staff attention are highly detrimental to patients’ perception of quality of care.

Stay Focused

On the surface, communication appears to be a simple concept within health care. Patients talk to doctors, nurses, and staff members. Doctors explain treatment options to patients. However, obstacles often get in the way of understandable, quality communication. A lack of quality communication limits the quality of service that can be provided to the patient. Some of these issues are rooted within healthcare system design, while others are the result of misplaced focus. Although quality care is important, in some case the perception of care is equally important. According to a study performed in Jackson, Mississippi, the level of patient satisfaction, perceived quality and communication directly correlated with symptom improvement and healing.

Cornerstone of the Healthcare Relationship

Healthcare is a relationship and communication is the cornerstone of every successful relationship.  Encourage staff to communicate one-to-one with patient and family members. Improved communication will improve patents perception, satisfaction and quite possibly the healing process. Communication is an inexpensive and easy measure. The key is to remember the importance of communication and make it a high priority. Every hospital can benefit immensely by improved communication.

Are you ready to improve your patient perception with improved communication? Introcomm provides custom communications solutions beginning with the admissions and discharge processes. Find out how we can help you improve communication by improving systems you already have in place (meaning little to no additional out of pocket expense).

Introcomm can certainly help you improve communication, but we can also assist your hospital with HCAHPS, patient experience, reduced readmission rates and more.  Contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.

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In Healthcare, Patient Experience Outweighs Price

Posted on January 23, 2013. Filed under: Communication, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

ImageHealthcare is one of the ONLY industries where experience consistently trumps price. In fact, studies show that customer service (patient experience) is 2½ times more important to the healthcare consumer than in any other industry. This reality may be an eye-opener for some doctors, administrators and medical marketing executives:

Unlike every other industry studied, “price” is not the top consideration. In healthcare, patient experience is the primary driver in the purchase decision. For healthcare consumers, personal experience is the number one reason for choosing a doctor or hospital.

In a recent report by the Health Research Institute of PwC US, both healthcare consumer expectation and the healthcare delivery system are changing. According to the report, these changes in expectation are based on, “inspiration from other industries, competition, health reform, consumer demands and/or the bottom line.”

The PwC report (based on a survey of 6,000 consumers) observes that “agile [healthcare] companies are changing the way they get to know their customers, moving beyond basic transactions and embracing their patients and members as consumers and customers.

“In many respects consumer expectations in healthcare track closely with other industries. Convenience and speed are high on the list… Like the banking and travel industries before them, healthcare companies are recognizing that customer retention comes with repeatable, memorable experiences that match individuals’ wants and needs.”

What is the basis for these new demands? Most professionals believe that the Internet opened the information and communications floodgates, and consumers (patients) have become increasingly aware and empowered in their healthcare decisions.

Others believe that responsibility lies in the shift among healthcare consumers of more conservative spending decisions, as well as many families paying a larger share of costs in health expenses and insurance. The “consumerism” mindset is trending in the healthcare sector, and now more closely parallels the long-established service expectations that are typical in the retail world.

The patient-focus in healthcare—and managing the customer experience—is likely to continue or grow. As the various dynamics of healthcare reform continue to phase-in to the delivery system, over 20 million individual “shoppers” will enter the marketplace in the next five to six years.

According to the report, people are, “acting more like consumers and less like patients.” Adopting a stronger patient-centric approach will provide numerous benefits for the provider, the hospital or healthcare facility, and especially for the individual patient. A positive patient experience clearly improves patient compliance, adherence, quality of care, and ultimately leads to better outcomes.

Consistently delivering a positive patient experience and exceptional customer satisfaction is increasingly tied to revenue. Indirectly, satisfaction and loyalty also inspire patient and professional referrals.

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Nurse Communication and Patient Experience

Posted on January 15, 2013. Filed under: Communication, Newsletter Archive, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

Christy Whipple

“..overall patient satisfaction is linked with quality nursing care, which, in turn, depends on nurse satisfaction…” 

Nurse with elderly patient

It has long been believed that nurses are the backbone of any health care institution and the ‘face’ of the daily care that patients receive. So it’s no surprise that the HCAHPS survey section on nurses’ communication has been found to have the greatest impact on overall patient satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the hospital to family and friends. Nurse communication is an integral part of patient experience and satisfaction.

Nurse Communication Directly Relates to Patient Satisfaction

Recently, popular journal, Quality Management in Health Care, released an article outlining a study regarding the success of nurse communication. The objective was to determine the extent of patient satisfaction with care provided at the hospital at all levels and to correlate patients’ satisfaction with nursing care, in particular, with their overall satisfaction. The study involved a random sample of 420 inpatients in a 110 bed hospital. They found that the overall patient satisfaction with the quality of care provided at the hospital was found to be quite high (Excellent, 74.7%; Very good, 23.7%). Individually, nursing care received the maximum patient satisfaction ratings (Excellent, 91.9%; Very good, 3.9%). A positive correlation was noted between patients’ perception of nursing care and their overall satisfaction with the health care provided at the hospital. They concluded that overall patient satisfaction is linked with quality nursing care, which, in turn, depends on nurse satisfaction, which adds to their work effectiveness and motivates them to provide quality patient care.

HCAHPS Illustrate Importance of Nurse Communication

The impact of nursing care on patient satisfaction and patient outcomes has long been established but hadn’t been linked to financial incentives – until now, with the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems initiative. (HCAHPS) According to one nursing educator at American Sentinel University, HCAHPS is poised to have a profound impact on health care and offers a positive and unexpected opportunity to advance the entire nursing profession. With HCAHPS, there is now have a science focused around patient-centered care and a way to measure care that was not in place before. When a nurse is aware of the patient’s perception of the care they are receiving, the nurse can now take measures to correct any negative habits and use the information as a learning tool to increase quality of patient care.

Nurses may Benefit from HCAHPS

Although standardized surveys often carry negative connotations, nurses can view the HCAHPS initiative as a positive and unexpected opportunity to advance nursing interests. HCAHPS is the opportunity for which nurses to demonstrate that what they do does make a difference in health care. Studies have also shown that patient satisfaction is higher when nurses have a better work environment, greater collaboration with physicians and more favorable staffing ratios. Hospitals haven’t always taken note of this data, but now they may have to – and nurses are poised to benefit when they do.

Introcomm provides custom communications solutions for the admissions and discharge processes. To learn more about how Introcomm can assist your hospital with HCAHPS, patient experience, and improved communication (with little to no additional out of pocket expense), please contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.

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Patient Experience Goes Beyond Medical Care

Posted on January 10, 2013. Filed under: Communication, HCAHPS, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

Christy Whipple

“Hospitals will have to venture beyond the traditional realm of merely providing world-class medical care.” 

Although 92% of hospital leaders claim to rate patient experience among their top three priorities, it seems no one quite knows what to do or how to improve it. Patients are less forgiving of poor service than they once were, and their expectations are continually rising because of the continually improving customer service offered by other kinds of service providers. A survey done by HealthLeaders found that 41% of patients indicated they would be willing to switch hospitals for a better patient experience.

Good Intentions
The majority of healthcare systems’ mission statements reflect that improving the health of patients is the primary mission. This being the case, then understanding and improving the patient experience must be an important focus. And it would seem that healthcare leaders would be experts at improving the patient experience. However, often this is not the case.

Beyond Medical Care
Hospitals will have to venture beyond the traditional realm of merely providing world-class medical care. They must approach patients as customers, and design the end-to-end patient experience accordingly. This willmove the focus of a hospital’s capabilities from purely clinical competencies to those that also cover customer management.

Customized Communication
The US Medical Center successfully implemented several innovations that have improved the customer experience, especially in terms of information consistency, access, communications and personalized service.The medical center found thatbased on age groups, patients have different needs and preferences, as well as different attitudes and expectations, when it came to their overall patient experience. The younger patients, for example, preferred to pull information when, where and how they wanted it. Older patients, on the other hand, were more interested in having information pushed to them and readily available. Older patients also preferred printed media vs. digital.

Benefits of Satisfied Patients
More satisfied patients bring numerous benefits for hospitals. Satisfied customers often cost less to serve. They consume resources more efficiently.They are more likely to recommend the hospital to friends. They are more likely to give the hospital high ratings, resulting in higher reimbursement rates.

In a healthcare setting, there is an added benefit to satisfied customers: they are more likely to develop good health habits, such as following wellness regimens. They are more tuned into messaging from healthcare providers and, therefore, more likely to make follow-up appointments, take prescribed drugs and keep up with recommended screenings. In other words, they work with their healthcare providers to prevent illness rather than just seek treatment after illness occurs. This preventive approach can dramatically reduce the costs associated with medical care.

More than Patient Satisfaction
The patient experience is more than just patient satisfaction. It incorporates all aspects of the patient’s interaction with the healthcare system. The patient experience includes patient satisfaction, patient engagement, and the quality of the care. To improve the patient experience, leadership needs to focus and truly make the patient experience a priority.

Introcomm provides custom communications solutions for the admissions and discharge processes. To learn more about how Introcomm can assist your hospital with HCAHPS, patient experience, and improved communations (with little to no additional out of pocket expense), please contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.

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