Study: Patients May Not Be A Hospital's Only Important Customers

Jul 25, 2016 at 01:47 pm by Staff

Today, more than ever, hospitals 'live and die' by patient discharge satisfaction numbers.

Yet, a recent independent research study reveals the patient caregiver who accompanies the patient during an overnight hospital stay is far more critical in judging patient satisfaction - and, therefore, affecting reimbursement and long-term image/reputation of the hospital - than hospitals might have suspected.

The Amplion Clinical Communications study found that a majority of patients (60%) across the United States have loved ones (family, friends or professional patient advocates) actively supporting them during hospital stays. In nearly every category surveyed in the study, the patient caregiver graded the nursing staff lower in meeting patient's needs than patients did. In addition, fewer caregivers (46%) than patients (63%) said they were highly likely to recommend the hospital based on their perception.

When industry research affirms that nearly half of all patient satisfaction surveys today are answered not by the patient but by the patient caregiver, these results do not bode well for the hospital's patient satisfaction record and its hope to maximize reimbursement.

"This is sobering news to health systems and suggests important process changes all of us in the industry will need to make if we want to be known for delivering superior care," said Brenda Aubin, RN, BSN, Clinical Integration Manager for Amplion Clinical Communications. "Nursing teams will need to focus on patient caregivers almost as much as the patients themselves in order for both patients and caregivers to recognize a high quality patient experience. Hospitals will need a strong and passionate nursing staff, as well as current technology designed to help deliver on that expectation."

The study included a quantitative survey of 1,000 patients and caregivers at hospitals across the country and qualitative interviews that more deeply explored the quantitative findings.

The research effort was intended to document issues around communications with hospital staff, particularly nursing staff responsiveness to patient calls, requests and perceptions of nursing care. The study has since been developed into an eBook, "Your Toughest Customers," that provides focus group anecdotes about the participants' care experiences, insights about this revelation from several industry experts and the study's hard-and fast statistics.

The investigation makes five recommendations that hospitals should adopt if they want to increase patient satisfaction scores given this new perspective.

  • Turn caregivers into allies. Educate the staff to the importance of including caregivers in caring for patients both in the hospital and at home. As partners, these individuals can be significant supporters to nurses' efforts to provide quality patient care.
  • Prepare the clinical staff to work with caregivers. Build an empathic clinical staff that can effectively deliver care to the patient while also providing attention to the caregiver. More and more, the patient caregiver is becoming a key judge of care quality.
  • Create a culture of shared accountability. A superior nursing team will help each other respond to patient needs, not ignore a patient's call because "he's not my patient."
  • Understand how caregivers impact hospital image and reimbursement. Every impression matters. Poor performance by a member of the nursing team can degrade the entire team's performance. Hospitals should recruit, train and retain staff that understand the service side of the care experience.
  • Provide consistent quality patient care. Hard wire consistency into patient care. Ensure quality patient engagement is replicated throughout the care team, measuring for effectiveness and tracking for improvement.

The study also emphasized that in addition to training, hospitals need to embrace technology that facilitates better patient care and patient caregiver attention.

About Amplion Clinical Communications.

Amplion combines capabilities in clinical workflow optimization, advanced patient communications technology and in-depth analytics to help health organizations dramatically improve patient and clinician care experience, and financial performance.

Amplion study Infographic "Patients may not be your toughest customer":