The University of Missouri's neurophysiology lab employed a new approach to improving patient satisfaction that focused on improving communication—and ended up improving employee satisfaction along the way.
The team in MU Health Care's neurophysiology department developed new training protocols on communication and developed new materials to provide to patients as part of the MEE Technique: mentoring, education and engagement, according to a post on NEJM Catalyst.
The approach focuses on one-on-one mentoring, which the team found more effective than a "blame" culture, open conversations with patients and more informative materials, according to the post.
The team surveyed patients who had been treated at the lab both before and after the MEE approach and found that the number who would give their experience a nine or 10 out of 10 increased by nearly 10 percentage points, from 74.9% prior to the new approach to 83.67%.
The number of patients who said they had confidence in the physicians treating them and who said they were treated with courtesy and respect also increased, according to the post.
Employee satisfaction scores increased in tandem, according to the post. The average overall score on a five-point scale increased from 4.01 to 4.42, and team members were more likely to say they felt they had room to grow or received recognition for their work.
"Patient experience, and, more so, patients feeling respected, are directly related to employee satisfaction in the workplace," the team concluded.
Research has also linked patient experience scores to patient safety. Providers can benefit across the board by looking at how all these elements of the care journey fit together, as improving the experience can also pay off financially.
A major barrier to improving satisfaction is the time needed to do so, as patient experience programs typically require clinical staff to adjust—or completely rethink—their workflow. Compounding the concern is that physicians would not be compensated by much, or at all, for time spent on this work.
Hospitals that have succeeded in patient experience programs have taken a number of different approaches. NewYork-Presbyterian, for example, focused on increasing access to telemedicine and offering virtual visits, while Johns Hopkins rethought the way it transitions patients from hospital to home.