A Guide to Improving Patient Experience at Your Hospital
Illness is both physically and emotionally debilitating. It induces fear and anxiety over one’s well-being. As such, when patients visit your healthcare facility, they are often in a vulnerable state. They come hoping for both a cure and some care until they are back on their feet.
In light of this, as a hospital owner or administrator, it is advisable that you invest in improving patient experience. It will contribute greatly to the reputation of your facility and in turn your profitability.
If you are wondering where to begin, here are some pertinent aspects of care worth looking into.
Dignified Service For All
It would be a false assertion to state that all patients are equal. The truth is, some can afford more exclusive facilities than others. However, all patients at your hospital should be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion. Doctors and nurses should be just as invested in patients in the general ward as they are in those in exclusive suites.
Racism has also been flagged as an indignity that some patients often have to contend with. Recently, renowned tennis superstar Serena Williams shared her story on racist and dismissive treatment during her child’s birth. Her story elicited many more confessions from black women who had suffered the same plight.
Any form of discrimination diminishes patient care. It is something you should strive to uproot from your institution no matter how subtle it may be. Staff should also be well-aware that such conduct will not be tolerated.
Unfair billing occurs mainly in two ways. In the first, patients are charged for services they did not use or are double-billed for them either erroneously or unscrupulously. This has been a cause for many disputes between hospitals and insurance firms being asked to settle inflated bills. Patients end up suffering financial burdens in such situations as their insurance limits get exhausted way ahead of time.
In other instances, unfair billing happens as a result of ‘over-treatment’. Some physicians openly attest to being asked to bill patients for as many procedures as possible to drive up profit margins. Aside from the monetary exploitation involved in this, patients also end up staying at the hospital longer than necessary. It places them at risk for infections not to mention the discomfort that comes with never-ending tests.
A fair billing policy is one that is accurate, transparent, and allows patients to seek redress for billing disputes. Instituting such a policy in your facility instills confidence in patients that they will not be subjected to unfair practices.
It would be best if your payment processes are clear and patients are well-appraised of them. The goal here is to give them control of their expenditure, where possible, as opposed to later saddling them with an insurmountable bill.
Consider advising patients on any major charges billed for their care to allow them to make an informed choice. They could also be notified in the event that their insurance policies run out and they have to personally incur certain costs.
Given how expensive healthcare is in most jurisdictions, it would equally be prudent to offer staggered payment plans. It would allow low-income patients to seek medical services without overwhelming financial anxiety. Further, endeavor to offer multiple methods of personal payments and establish partnerships with most health carriers. It will make your facility accessible and convenient for a larger scope of patients.
When grizzly or high-casualty incidents happen, they make for a traumatic sight. Broken limbs, gushing bleeds, and other devastating injuries are terrifying to witness if you are not a medical professional.
It is essential that your facility is well planned and partitioned to protect other patients from such psychological trauma. There should also be service elevators dedicated to transporting patients during treatment and transferring the deceased to the morgue.
Additionally, research shows that a patient’s surroundings play a big role in wellness and recovery. It would be a great kindness to patients if rooms and wards were designed to be more inviting. Aim for a decor scheme that delivers both comfort and the sterile conditions stipulated for hospitals.
Medical treatment is the anchor of the care you offer your patients. It is, however, dependent on the kind of medical equipment you have at your hospital.
Poor quality and insufficient medical tools often result in substandard treatment. Even the best doctors will be hard-pressed to deliver optimal care where resources are lacking. An apt example of this is the shortage of ventilators in hospitals during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Doctors may have been able to do more for patients if their facilities had more resources.
Still, not all equipment will do. Outdated equipment could also hinder ideal standards of care. Take blood pressure monitoring, for instance. Outdated models rely on human interpretation of readings. This often results in errors due to the complex arithmetic involved. They are also time-consuming. However, if you invested in a modern high-quality blood pressure monitor for hospital use, patients would get faster and more accurate readings.
As you work towards improving patient experiences, most changes may boil down to policy and sheer will. The will to be fair to all, to not pursue illegitimate profits, and to be genuinely invested in the well-being of patients. When such will is backed up policy and resources to put it into action, patients’ experiences will undoubtedly be all the better for it.
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