Patient care makeovers improve quality outcomes, satisfaction scores

As hospitals across the country seek to improve their patient satisfaction scores, American Medical News reports some organizations are taking it a step further by rethinking the entire patient experience to ensure all patients receive safe, proper care at the appropriate time.

These efforts include creating senior-level positions to lead patient experience initiatives; a "sacred moment" checklist that calls for staff to discuss patients' hopes and concerns about their stay while gathering key information; shadowing patients and families at every step in the episode of care to find areas for improvement; and discussions with patients at admission about patient safety, including good hand-hygiene practices and medication administration.

"Patient experience is not about hotel service," M. Bridget Duffy, M.D., chief medical officer at Vocera Communications in San Francisco told amednews. "We're focused on the human experience of care, and when you focus on that and map the gaps in human experience while matching the gaps in efficiency, you'll find key points in the patients' journey where there are breakdowns in communications where you're at risk for adverse events in quality and safety."

There is a growing awareness of the link between improving patients' experiences and ensuring patient safety and better clinical outcomes, the article states. Two years ago, Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center, a 116-bed hospital in Kennett, Mo., had low patient satisfaction scores. Only a third of patients said they would recommend the facility to a friend or loved one.

But Twin Rivers took several steps to fix patient satisfaction, the most important being the "sacred moment checklist," according to amednews. The moment patients arrive in their inpatient rooms healthcare staff go over key questions and provide essential safety information. Nurses ask about their pain and dietary and spiritual needs.

"This was something that people could do in a relatively short period of time and hit all the things we thought were important for patients in that moment," Edmund Landry, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon who works at Twin Rivers, told amednews. "The sacred moment is for the employee and for the patient. The other great thing is that it doesn't cost a dime."

And the patient satisfaction result? Seventy percent of Twin Rivers patients give the hospital top marks and report they would definitely recommend it to friends and loved ones. The checklist is so popular that three other hospitals in the system are now using it.

To learn more:
- here's the amednews article
- check out these resources on shadowing patients and families