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Hospitals Capture Patients’ Voices to Improve Health Care Experience

Patients and families help planning efforts for services

Hospitals often turn to patients and their family members for suggestions that they hope will lead to improved quality of care, according to an article in USA Today.

For example, a number of hospitals in the Nashville, Tennessee, area are taking steps to ensure that patients’ voices are a part of their planning efforts. One of these facilities is LifePoint Health, which has launched a new Patient and Family Advisory Board to include patients’ perspectives in the planning process at hospitals located in communities across the country.

The initiative is part of a quality program established in partnership with Duke University Health System to improve patient care, experience, and safety. LifePoint hospitals can include a patient or a family member on their boards and can create their own local advisory councils.

With health care outcomes being so dependent on all parties being clear on what is happening, what needs to be done, and why, focusing on communication is priority.

“Obviously our industry has room for improvement. That’s why we gather and talk about it,” said Dawn Rudolph, chief experience officer at Saint Thomas’ Health in Nashville. “When we look at feedback from patients about where we have opportunities, a lot of times it’s around communication.”

The methods by which people communicate continue to change — Rudolph said she’s surprised by how many prefer to hear from medical providers via text — as do the measures by which hospital are evaluated.

Community Health Systems, a hospital operator based in Franklin, Tennessee, started a patient safety program, Community Cares, which also has a patient-experience component, in 2007.

Dr. Lynn Simon, president of clinical services and chief quality officer at Community Health Systems, told USA Today that better communication at discharge can improve outcome, which in turn can boost a patient’s satisfaction. The company, she said, has seen measurable improvement since the program’s outset.

Hospitals also want patient feedback on design, Fierce Healthcare previously reported. Patient comfort is essential for hospital survival, according to Patrick Testa, a consultant with the facility planning forum for the Advisory Board Company.

“We are no longer in an environment where if you build it, they will come,” he said. “To succeed in the future, the key for health systems will be to attract and retain patients by meeting a new set of consumer demands. A better-informed, cost-conscious patient is becoming a key decision-maker in the marketplace.”

Sources: FierceHealthcare; July 20, 2015; and USA Today; July 19, 2015.


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