Can Healthcare Workers Focus on Patient Experience and Care?
While job security and good pay certainly help attract people to the healthcare industry, many people become doctors, nurses, X-ray technicians and the like because they want to be part of a team that helps heal people. In fact, a recent survey shows that healthcare workers have above-average job satisfaction compared to other industries precisely because of the difference they play in people’s lives.
But as organizations work to streamline costs, healthcare workers are increasingly being stretched thin, which often leads to dissatisfaction and burnout. Compounding the issue is the more noticeably important role that patient satisfaction scores play in how hospitals receive funding. Now more than ever, healthcare employees have to be on top of their games not only in the care aspect of their jobs, but also on the customer service side.
While it may feel like too much of a balancing act to add “improving patient experience” to an already overwhelming job description, there are plenty of ways employees can do their part to help build satisfaction scores while still making sure that care comes first.
But for healthcare organizations, it’s risky to be non-committal about patient experience because there are huge financial benefits to putting patient satisfaction at the forefront of organizational priorities. Plus, an organization’s reputation is at stake, which often drives how often patients choose to use or continue to use its services.
Here are four tips to getting your employees to improve patient experience while still prioritizing quality care.
Be Mentally Present
Improving how you impact others starts with adjusting your focus toward them. That can be difficult in the healthcare environment, where workers cycle through multiple patients that change constantly and have different needs between them. Not to mention the system side of things, where they work with an endless array of departments all working on different schedules.
Often, the job can seem less like a juggling act and more like running an entire circus.
But even though the job may seem ideal for multi-tasking, the truth is, research shows. that the brain actually really struggles to multi-task, meaning ultimately, people can only do one thing at a time.
Understanding, and even championing, that notion despite the numerous responsibilities workers are required to do can help them focus better on being fully present for the patient that’s in front of them.
Patients -- and people in general -- deserve your full attention when it’s their turn, and it pays to try to block out what you’re about to do in the next few minutes as well as what you just finished up, so they can feel like they are being listened to properly. Few things make patients feel more cared for than being prioritized, even if you only have a moment for them.
Remember You’re Part of a Team
Another mindset shift that can help healthcare workers improve patient experience is to mentally and emotionally accept that they’re not alone. Unnecessary anxiety from feeling as though the whole world rests on their shoulders drains energy, but it’s common in the healthcare industry.
Of course, the job is demanding, and there are personal responsibilities that everyone has to do, but increasingly, facilities are moving toward team-based care, which means workers don’t have to do everything themselves. Clinical care in and of itself has become so much more complex that it requires the entire team of experts to work together to deliver specialized care. So, being a lone ranger actually does more of a disservice to the client than anything.
Developing a culture of team-first care allows all workers to have the ability to delegate, collaborate and initiate, so when one member of the staff has to spend extra time with one aspect of care, others can pick up the slack seamlessly. Patients can understand a busy doctor much better when they can see that all the other hands are on deck to help them when they need it.
Keep Looking in the Mirror and Focus on your Impression
Here’s a cold, hard truth: even though you might know exactly what to do at your job in every situation and can execute it beautifully, it doesn’t mean you’ll succeed at your job.
The fact is, your impression on people can be just as important as your ability to properly care for your assigned tasks. To a certain extent, patient experience hinges on trust. And trust is sold through good communication, lots of smiles and empathy. Remember, patients don’t really want to be at the hospital. Often, they’re sitting in a room with anxiety over the unknown. The best way to build trust through the unknown is to simply connect on a human level. Anyone -- even the best doctor -- can relate to fear as it relates to health uncertainty.
Fine Tune the Process
As clinical care becomes more complex, more processes get set in place to make things run more smoothly...or so it’s hoped. Major healthcare-players, such as the Mayo Clinic, have developed numerous processes to reduce the time needed for seemingly menial tasks such as wheeling a patient from room to room.
But sometimes, things just don’t work as well as they could. Assessing and adjusting processes or software implementations should be a constant work in progress, so less information gets lost in the shuffle and more of it gets out quicker. At the end of the day, the more hospital administrators can do to help streamline healthcare workers’ jobs, the happier they -- and the patient will be.
For more information about how to develop a culture of healthcare workers that prioritize patient experience, send us a message at Info@DavidCouperConsulting.com.
Josh Espinosa is a freelance writer and designer. He also founded the Approachable Music project, a music education business on a mission to make learning to play easier and more efficient.