Clinical

Lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic


 

The patient experience during COVID-19

Some intriguing data is also being released about patient experience during the pandemic. A Press Ganey analysis of 350,000 comments between January and March 2020 shows that patients are looking for more information about their condition, primarily COVID-19 test delays and result notification time. There is also hypervigilance in patients’ minds about hand hygiene and overall cleanliness of the hospital. Patients also seek clarification and transparent explanation of their caregiver’s bedside mannerisms – for example, why did they gown up before entering – and their daily care plans.

Patients have been appreciative of providers and recognize the personal risk frontline staff put themselves through. Communication transparency seems to mitigate concerns about delays of care especially caused by operational challenges as a result of the pandemic.

In surveys specifically related to experiences including COVID-19, patients were more likely to rate more areas of service lower than in surveys that did not mention COVID-19. The patients also seemed to put more value on the quality of instructions and information they received and on perception of providers’ respect and listening abilities. These insights could prove invaluable in improving care delivery by hospitalists.

Isolation of patients has been shown in multiple studies to have negative outcomes. These patients are up to twice as likely to have an adverse event, and seven times more likely to have treatment-related avoidable adversity, poorer perceived patient experience, and overall perception of being cared for “less.” Add to this a higher level of depression and mental strain, and these patients quickly become “unsatisfied.”

At the ED level, the willingness to let family be present for care was the key area of concern listed – a metric that has changed rapidly since the early days of the pandemic.

The bottom line is these are trying times for everyone – both for providers and patients. Both look up to health system and group leadership for reassurance. Patients and families recognize the risks frontline providers are assuming. However, transparent communication across all levels is the key. Silos are disappearing and team based care is taking center stage.

Beyond the current public health crisis, these efforts will go a long way to create unshakable trust between health systems, providers, patients, and their loved ones.

Dr. Singh is currently the chief of inpatient operations at Adena Health System in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he also has key roles in medical informatics and health IT. He is also the president-elect of the Central Ohio Chapter of SHM.

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