Another limitation, Dr. Sharp says, is that you can’t specifically script encounters to “teach to the test,” by using verbiage with the patient that is verbatim from the satisfaction survey questions.
“Nor can we directly control the temperature in patients’ rooms or the quality of their food,” he says. “We also do not have direct control over a negative experience in the emergency department before patients are referred to us, and many surveys show that it is very difficult to overcome a bad experience.”
Tools at Your Fingertips
As a result of the growing emphasis on patient-centered care, SHM created a Patient Experience Committee this year. SHM defines patient experience as “everything we say and do that affects our patients’ thoughts, feelings, and well-being.” The committee is looking at the issues at hand and defining the patient experience and what makes it good.
“We are looking at success stories, as well as not so successful stories, from some of our members to identify what seems to work and what doesn’t work,” says Dr. Sharp, a member of the committee. “By identifying best practices, we can then share this knowledge with the rest of the society, along with methods to implement these practices. We can centralize the gathered knowledge and data and then analyze and make it available to SHM members for their implementation and use.”
The hospitalist plays a key role in the patient experience. Now, more than ever, it’s important to do what you can to make it positive. Consider initiatives you might want to participate in—and perhaps even start your own.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.