- November 29, 2016
- ByYogin Patel
Defining Hospital Service Excellence
Hospitals and healthcare systems across the country are redefining their missions to provide premium hospital service excellence and enhance patient experience. As the new paradigm of healthcare, the mission of hospital service excellence is vital to cultivating patient engagement and integral to the long-term sustainability of every hospital and healthcare system in the country.
The formula for successfully cultivating a culture of client and hospital service excellence is not one size fits all. Many elements are dependent on a facility’s needs and the patients and families the facility serves. However, several elements prove to be key components for providing the optimal patient experience and top-quality healthcare services. Dr. Yogin Patel, ApolloMD President, shares key elements to re-engineer the patient experience in the emergency department (ED).
The Patient Encounter
Every moment is critical when crafting the perfect patient encounter and customer service experience. Physicians and advanced practice clinicians (APCs) should remember the patient encounter begins as soon as a patient enters the ED and does not end when the patient leaves, but after the post-discharge follow-up.
Use the welcome period to make the best first impressions.
- Re-brand the waiting room to a family reception area to set the tone of the ED visit
- Include televisions with health-related information on loop, marketing materials on new healthcare services and information on the ED team to create adequate diversions
- Initiate triage protocols, round in the reception areas, and set up Rapid Treatment Areas
Minimizing delays in initiating treatment is important to satisfying patients and will improve treatment times, overcome capacity constraints, and allow for clear communication with patients.
During the patient encounter, physicians and APCs should provide positive FAST assessments.
- First impression
- Apologize for the wait
- Sit down
- Touch the patient
Use whiteboards and continue to round on patients to ensure clear communication and to keep patients and family members informed.
When a patient is prepared for discharge, it is important to ask if they received excellent care. Think of this a way of prompting customer service feedback. Provide a discharge packet to each patient. This serves as a tangible takeaway of the visit and should be accompanied with the verbal summary of the visit given by the clinician.
Remember the visit does not end there and consistent follow up is important for recovery and patient satisfaction. Prep all patients for a customer service satisfaction survey and set a goal with the follow-up percentages clearly defined.
Read more about ApolloMD’s approach to perfecting the patient encounter here.
Scripting for Success
A customized, detailed facility script is critical to create positive patient encounters and ensure consistency from all clinicians. The script should outline every course of action from the moment the patient enters the ED to post-discharge follow-up procedures.
When building the perfect script for your facility, use the ED patient satisfaction survey as a guide and remember scripting involves standardizing both non-verbal and verbal communications. Language should be kept positive, inclusive, and specific.
An effective script should cover the following:
- Develop patient rapport
- Lay the foundation for the workup and evaluation
- Explain the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up
- Ask the patient about the satisfaction with the visit
- Set an expectation of a follow-up call from a physician or APC
- Lay the groundwork for a follow-up survey
Coaching Physicians and APCs
Behind every successful department is an exceptional leader who is consistent in providing guidance and feedback to all team members. A successful leader offers over communication and leads by example.
Dissemination of individualized clinician feedback, goals, and group data are key when coaching team members to success. While it is important to post or email satisfaction scores to the group, sitting down with the individuals to discuss scores one-on-one is more important to long-term development. Share actual data, patient grievances and letters so everyone can see first-hand how patients perceive them. Review each clinician’s patient approach and provide constructive feedback and strategies for improvement.
Identify high-performing physicians and APCs to enable peer-to-peer learning for increased patient satisfaction scores in the future. Give the team several periods to raise their scores, implement new strategies and demonstrate a trend of improvement, while providing ample resources.
As an effective leader, it is important to review scores with administration to establish clear communication of performance and real-time monitoring of the group trends. Effective leaders recognize top performers and celebrate their successes publicly. Praise should be done so liberally and often to ensure the team is recognized and appreciated.
Read more about ApolloMD’s Medical Director Training | Skills for Successful Clinical Leadership.
Developing an Action Plan
Action plans serve as an additional customized communication piece to help track department goals and projects relating to the overall success of the department. A detailed action plan should include the following:
- Break down areas of focus
- Provide details on the goal or project
- Establish timelines and expectations
- Allow leadership to assign tasks and hold team members accountable for their components
Under-performance is easily identified using an action plan, resulting in leadership developing unified solutions to address each team member properly.
Operational efficiency in the ED can directly affect patient satisfaction. Using innovative technology such as ER Express, ED Passport and Scribe Documentation improves patient satisfaction in a number of areas.
ER Express allows patients the capability to reserve time in the ED where they can be seen, avoiding unnecessary wait times and delays. The program can be instrumental in building voluntary patient volume. ER Express patients have specific expectations around their care and often represent low acuity complaints. Since these patients are typically seen upon arrival, they represent the ideal opportunity for achieving an excellent patient encounter with high customer service satisfaction.
ED Passport is designed to encourage the transfer of patients into the ED from surrounding clinics, offices, urgent care facilities or other healthcare service locations with a quick and seamless process for all community clinicians. While these patients are higher acuity, the use of ED Passport allows us to demonstrate how we control the continuum of the patient’s care. It also conveys to patients they are a priority for us.
Scribe services allow clinicians to spend more time with patients and less time documenting. Scribes can meaningfully impact the documentation of the encounter, freeing up clinicians for patient-centered tasks. They can also enhance the productivity and efficiency of the clinicians by boosting the ED’s overall throughput. In addition, scribes can provide reliable, real-time flow feedback and prompt physicians when results are back.
Read the full article, Dread the ER Waiting Room? Consider Skipping It!, for more information about implementing these technologies to improve ED operations and efficiency.
Share the infographic below to help your clinical team optimize their interactions with patients to encourage the long-term sustainability of your hospital.