Since the launch of Hospital Value Based Purchasing by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid, nurses have been challenged to find creative ways to keep patients and family members satisfied during inpatient hospitalization.
In many cases, nurses can intercept and prevent negative perceptions from ever becoming an issue in the first place—all it takes is a little bit of thoughtful anticipation.
Here are 6 tips that you can incorporate into your daily practice that will be sure to have your patients saying that they received “excellent” care during their time in the hospital:
Patient satisfaction tip #1: keep your patients informed
It has been shown to drastically improve patient satisfaction when nurses give their patients frequent updates regarding their plan of care. Even if the plan changes from one minute to the next, it’s helpful to let your patients know as these changes occur.
For example, if your patient is scheduled to go for a diagnostic procedure at 10:00 am, and you find out that it’s going to be delayed by two hours, it is essential to notify your patient as soon as you learn about the change. This will give them the reassurance that you are on top of their care, and will put some of their anxieties at ease.
Patient satisfaction tip #2: keep the environment peaceful
Two of the most common patient complaints during a hospital stay are dirty rooms and excessive noise. Both of these can be easily controlled if everyone is on the same page, and usually it’s the nurse that leads the team in maintaining these therapeutic standards of patient care.
First, be sure to straighten up your patients’ rooms each time you go and check on them. This may involve taking out the linen cart, emptying trash cans, or wiping down the bedside table with sanitation wipes—all of which is greatly appreciated by your patients and their families.
Additionally, excessive noise can be reduced by keeping doors closed when appropriate, answering phones and alarms promptly, and reminding those who are speaking loudly to lower their voices.
Patient satisfaction tip #3: honor all verbal contracts
Patients quickly become dissatisfied when they are waiting over an hour for something as simple as a ginger ale, especially when they were previously told that it would be just a few minutes.
Although emergencies often occur, and it’s easy to prioritize more essential tasks such as titrating life-saving medications, it is very important to our patients feel listened to and cared for in ways big and small.
Thus, if you anticipate a request may take longer to fulfill, make sure you let your patient know as soon as possible so they don’t feel neglected or forgotten about.
Patient satisfaction tip #4: go above and beyond
In nursing school, we learned that individualizing treatment for our patients is essential to meeting the desired outcomes of the care team. In regards to patient satisfaction, we take this a step further to include our patient’s preferences as well.
This may include simple things like altering the times that we take routine vital signs so that our patients can get uninterrupted rest. It may also mean collaborating with the healthcare team to schedule teachings or consultations when family members will be present. As we discussed last week, just a little extra effort can make a huge impact.
Establishing this high level of personalized care will require open communication with the patients and their family members from the beginning of their stay. By simply expressing your desire to go the extra mile, you will improve patient satisfaction before you even carry it out.
Patient satisfaction tip #5: educate your patients
When patients are newly diagnosed, they will have to make major lifestyle modifications. Many patients and their family members will have to implement treatment at home. Thus, adequately educating your patients is not only a key role of the RN, but it will also reassure them that you care and empower them in being able to care for themselves.
Unfortunately, we often let the tasks of patient care cut into the time needed to deliver high quality patient education. In order to find the balance in completing tasks on time, while providing the necessary patient education, you may have to rely heavily on your colleagues to lend a helping hand.
Patient satisfaction tip #6: boost nurse satisfaction
One of the easiest ways to bring about happy patients is to have happy nursing staff caring for them. Nurses spend more time with patients than any other hospital staff, so it comes as no surprise that patient interactions with nurses are among the strongest predictors of patient satisfaction survey scores.
As the experts attest, happy and engaged nurses make it more likely patients will become return customers. The happiness of the nursing staff is easily detectable by the patient and family, and will set the tone for their own patient satisfaction during their stay.
By implementing a staff satisfaction and retention committee on your unit, you can help be a voice for your colleagues to get their concerns and dissatisfactions communicated to the hospital administration.
This article was originally published on Calling All Nurses.