Tips to boost hospital patient satisfaction ratings

Six years ago Park Ridge Health in Hendersonville, N.C., had the worst patient satisfaction scores in Western North Carolina. Today, after an initiative to change its hospital culture and increase focus on customer service, it boasts the highest rating in the region and the third-highest in the state.

One reason for the huge jump is the hospital's push to involve leaders and managers in the day-to-day activities at the organization, Park Ridge Health Director of Patient Experience Cammy Horrell told Each week members of the management and leadership teams take a one-hour shift to greet and help patients as they enter the hospital.

"It's amazing the stories we've learned by just being at the front door," she said in the article. "It also gives a presence that even when you are nervous and scared, someone is going to be there to greet you with a warm smile and ask you, 'Where do you need to go and how do I help?'"

The hospital's low patient satisfaction scores five years ago prompted Park Ridge to revamp its customer service training program to focus on compassion, presentation, safety, efficiency and excellence, according to Horrell. As part of the initiative, the hospital implemented an interactive system to allow patients to inform staff about their needs. The response to a patient request is approximately five minutes, Horell said in the article,

"When we changed the culture, that's when we saw the scores improve," she said. "We always want the patient to be involved in their care, and we try to provide them a voice to be able to talk to us in layman's term about their experience and their needs.

Springfield (Ohio) Regional Medical Center's emergency department saw a nearly 10 percent rise in its patient satisfaction scores in the past year after it made changes to improve emergency room wait times and boost employee morale, according to the Springfield News-Sun.

ER patients used to wait as long as 61 minutes to see a patient. But the hospital redesigned its emergency room to allow patients to see nurses first, instead of security personnel, and during peak hours a physician triages patients to quickly determine what tests are necessary, the News-Sun reports. The result: wait time to see a physician was 11 minutes by December 2013.

Shorter wait times also correlate with higher satisfaction rates at Chesterton (Ind.) Health and Emergency Center, NWI Times reports. Since the freestanding emergency facility opened in 2012, it boasts an average wait time of 15 minutes and a 99 percent patient satisfaction rate.  

Patients are more likely to give an organization high patient satisfaction or patient experience scores if they receive help quickly, according to a recent Healthgrades analysis. Other factors for patient satisfaction include positive experiences with nurse communication, pain control, and a clear understanding of discharge instructions and medications, according to Healthgrades.

To learn more:
- read the BlueRidgeNow article
- here's the Springfield News-Sun piece
- check out the NWI Times article
- here's the Healthgrades announcement

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