4 Expert Ways to Boost Patient Experience

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)
4 Expert Ways to Boost Patient Experience

I was interested to read a recent Forbes article by customer experience expert Micah Solomon. He outlined eight things hospitals can do to improve their HCAHPS scores, and it seemed to me that home health and hospice organizations could benefit from several of the ideas to help improve their own CAHPS scores.

  1. Actively experience care the way your patients do. Role playing is a superb tool when it comes to improving patient experience. Have workers play the part of the patient to expose places where a bit of empathy or understanding could go a long way toward easing discomfort. Workers might wear ear plugs to simulate hearing loss or sunglasses to dull their vision. Solomon suggests a “full bladder” exercise to understand a patient’s perception of response times.
  2. Train staff to apologize for service-related issues. It’s one of the hardest things to manage, but a genuine apology goes a long way with patients. Your employees should be prepared to say they’re sorry, even in cases where they don’t feel it’s warranted. They should also know how to respond to a request for a superior (“Let me help you find the right person to talk to about this.”).
  3. Think systems, not people. Sure, we all make mistakes. But if the same mistakes are being made by multiple people, rather than blaming the individuals, it’s time to look at the system. This is a hallmark of service-oriented organizations like The Ritz-Carlton, Solomon points out.
  4. Think Ritz-Carlton, not ABC Home Care. And speaking of The Ritz, Solomon suggests we do ourselves a disservice when we only benchmark against peers. “It’s time to benchmark healthcare customer service against the best in service-intensive industries, because that’s what your patients and their loved ones will do. Every patient’s interaction is judged based on expectations set by the best players in the hospitality industry, the financial services industry, and other areas where expert players have made a science of customer service,” he writes.

Finally, consider the halo effect. Solomon says that when it comes to patient-experience scores, it’s important to think big picture rather than specific survey questions. Creating a caring environment translates into better assessment scores because humans have a tendency to cut service providers slack when they have a good overall experience. As Solomon puts it: “A positive experience with you will spread in their minds (and in their survey responses) to areas where, literally speaking, your institution may not have been entirely up to snuff.”

For more ways to improve patient care in your home health organization, visit the McKesson Homecare Talk Resources Center.

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