In an ever-changing industry, one element that remains central in healthcare is the patient experience. According to data from Press Ganey, patient experience is five times more likely to influence brand loyalty than any marketing strategy, a critical consideration with the rise of consumerism and increasing competition in healthcare. Additionally, with shifting payment models, hospitals’ reimbursement can change based on patient experience scores and adverse events in patient care, such as re-admittance within 30 days.
While there are obvious factors impacting a patient’s experience such as interaction with clinical staff, there are a number of clinical and operational aspects behind the scenes that are important as well, including efforts to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and delays in care, and improving coordination across a patient’s care team.
Reducing infections, increasing patient safety
When a patient enters the hospital, the expectation is often to address an issue, not acquire another, such as an HAI. Despite that, roughly 2 million patients suffer an HAI each year, nearly 90,000 of whom do not survive. Not only can HAIs such as SSIs, central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) prolong hospital stays, patients can suffer devastating emotional, financial, and medical consequences.
Luckily, there are measures a hospital can take to lower the incidence of HAIs in their facility and help to ensure a positive patient experience. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides an Infection and Prevention Control Assessment Tool that can help hospitals set up more effective infection prevention programs. The tool covers areas including:
- Hand hygiene
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Prevention of a variety of HAIs
- Environmental Cleaning
- Device reprocessing
PPE plays an important role in preventing HAIs, so ensure you have the right equipment to follow maximal sterile barrier precautions as outlined in the hospital’s established protocol, and that staff have been trained on proper donning and doffing techniques.
Stay on schedule, avoid patient frustration
OR delays can be a barrier to optimal patient flow and clinical collaboration, raise patient anxiety levels and ultimately put patients and their experience at risk. Delays happen for many reasons. There are non-clinical issues such as postoperative bed and staff availability, but there are also surgical equipment and supply challenges that can impact an OR schedule, such as damaged instrument containers that need to be replaced or re-sterilized, or when facemasks are uncomfortable and fogging up.
Here are a few ways to help reduce equipment-related issues that may lead to OR delays:
- Use the right products: Work with your supplier to ensure you have the correct mix of equipment for each procedure your hospital performs.
- Track and monitor: Equipment monitoring and tracking systems can help OR staff easily locate products and equipment to help ensure they arrive at the OR when they’re needed. Similarly, patient and personnel tracking systems can keep staff apprised of where patients and OR team members are (and where they’re scheduled to be) so that they can confidently plan for each procedure.
- Consider design: OR staff and a hospital’s sterile processing department (SPD) are critical partners in ensuring sterilized surgical equipment is where it’s needed, when it’s needed. Whenever possible, leverage solutions to make this process more efficient. For example, there are systems in which stainless steel case carts used to transport the instrument sets to and from the OR can also go into the decontamination area and through the cart washer.
Foster a sense of interdepartmental collaboration
When a patient enters a hospital, they want to know that their care team is working collaboratively. According to an analysis of key drivers of a patient’s likelihood to recommend a facility by Press Ganey, patients’ perception of teamwork is the top driver of loyalty. For example, among the 78% of patients who gave top-box scores for teamwork, caregiver respect and caregiver courtesy, 98% gave top-box “Likelihood to Recommend” ratings. In short, making it easy for hospital staff to communicate and work together can go a long way with ensuring a positive patient experience.
While your patients may never notice that you’re making these decisions, they can contribute greatly to their experience while in your facility. In today’s healthcare environment, that goes a long way.