The practice management session titled, “Improving Patient Satisfaction—Two Success Stories,” was presented by Steven Deiteizweig, MD, system chairman, Department of Hospital Medicine and medical director, regional business development from Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, Peter Short, MD, CMO for Addison Gilbert and Beverly Hospitals in Massachusetts, and Richard Slataper, MD, medical director for the HM service at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La.
Optimizing the patient experience and overall satisfaction continues to be a focus of all hospitals and hospitalists. Presenters examined realistic expectations and tactics to improve patient satisfaction scores, as well as leverage the hospitalists’ role with hospital administration. Additionally, key considerations in reporting and benchmarking patient satisfaction were discussed.
One of the key messages was not to attempt to implement all of the suggestions but to pick three tactics, perfect them, and move on to another three tactics.
Dr. Short stressed patience in implementing the approach. He also emphasized that in order to make a difference, all stakeholders need to be committed to enhancing the patient experience and no one person can change the outcome. It has to be the complete patient experience team—physicians, nursing, administration, environmental services, transportation, etc.
Drs. Short and Slataper discussed the Studer group application of the mnemonic AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explain, and Thank), as well as the importance of sitting down to discuss a patients’ care and consistent utilization of a white board in every patient room. Dr. Short implemented hourly rounding in his hospitals, which faced initial resistance from nursing but over time experienced a 50% reduction in call lights.
Dr. Short also discussed making sure to take the time to celebrate success when the patient experience improvement has been improved.
Another key message was to insure the right hospitalists are hired to be part of the team. Without engaged and enthusiastic providers, how can anyone expect the patients to be engaged in their care?
Dr. Slataper took some time to talk about his program’s efforts to keep the caseload to 16 patients per day, which coincided with benchmarks presented in another practice management session. Slataper’s program has grown and they have recruited to keep the average encounters per day to around 16, which he says helps prevent provider burnout and is supported by research.
A number of the tactics to improve the patient experience are common sense to how we would want ourselves, or one of your family members, treated. However, it really comes down to communication. For example:
- Mentality of all care-team members who will interact with the patient during their stay;
- Time with the patient and their family to make them perceive as though they are the only patient in the hospital;
- Alignment of goals from the board of trustees/directors to the environmental staff; and
- Communication with the PCP or sub-acute facility during and post-discharge.
Each hospitalist program needs to define what success will look like for their program with all of the stakeholders and then execute on those tactics. Additionally, consistent feedback in the forms of dashboards and feedback assist in moving the needle. TH
Bryan Weiss is managing director of MedSynergies, Inc., in Irving, Texas.