Home From The Editor Happy patients?

Happy patients?

April 2014

Published in the April 2014 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Can simple techniques like sitting down while you talk to patients and extending visiting hours make your patients happier? In an era where HCAHPs scores are king, it’s a question on the minds of most hospitals, and it’s a question that we address in two stories in this month’s issue.

Our By the Numbers coverage suggests what can happen to patient satisfaction scores when hospitals make two basic changes: have physicians sit down at the bedside, and keep track of questions and information using whiteboards in patient rooms.

Data show that both strategies produced small but significant increases in patient satisfaction rates. These gains may not be huge, but they are enough for HealthEast Care System in St. Paul, Minn., to try both strategies to improve patient satisfaction scores.

The up-front costs will be minor: Whiteboards cost under $50, and patient rooms already have chairs. The real cost, however, will be the time it takes to convince physicians and clinical staff to give these strategies a try.

In our second story, we examine how Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, N.J., implemented 24/7 visiting hours. While the hospital had to beef up its security protocols for after-hours visits, the change required no additional staff and was relatively easy to implement.

Going into the project, the biggest concern was how nurses would be affected by around-the-clock visitors. But it turns out that even the floor nurses have had no complaints, with most saying they would recommend a similar policy to other hospitals.

As for patient satisfaction scores: The small increase that resulted wasn’t statistically insignificant. That was OK with hospital administrators, who didn’t expect a big jump. They note that even a small bump in patient satisfaction scores is welcome in today’s environment.

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher