Like any service experience, the way patients perceive their hospital stay depends on a wide variety of factors. As such, crafting a one-size-fits-all patient satisfaction strategy is no easy task.
Entertainment isn’t enough. It’s just a fraction of what patient engagement entails. Satisfaction comes from restoring the feeling that a patient is in control of their life, and that they have power that extends far beyond their present procedure or diagnosis. True patient engagement moves the patient into an empowered role, where they feel more in control over their health and life.
UK HealthCare is the hospitals and clinics of the University of Kentucky. As a pilot test, UK HealthCare adopted patient engagement technology for one of its floors. The solution itself is interactive, using the in-room TV to give patients access to staff bios, instructions on care at home and educational information related to their diagnosis. Clinicians found it encouraging that patients began watching educational content without even being instructed to do so, going so far as to re-watch videos with family members to share what they had learned.
Having access to something as simple as a photo and some basic information about a doctor or nurse made the experience less scary for patients. Similarly, knowing more about a diagnosis and how to manage a condition places power and control back in their hands. Instead of a nurse simply explaining discharge instructions, patients are able to explore their health on their own — taking a more active role in their care and becoming better informed to have conversations with their care team.
UK HealthCare’s patient engagement solution also provides patients with entertainment: a TV, movies, social media access and more. Those facing a long-term hospital stay found their burnout eased thanks to the connection to the outside world brought by the patient engagement solution. And, since this solution also contains valuable education and adherence information, it’s a win-win for patient health and happiness alike.
Community Regional Medical Center
In a similar scenario, Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Calif. uses patient engagement technology to support their medication teaching efforts and improve the care experience. Integrating their interactive patient care and electronic health record (EHR) systems, the hospital standardizes education in a personalized way. They empower patients to understand the medications prescribed just for them, while documenting the education for clinicians and providing a window into the impact of that education on all of their patients.
To ensure medication teaching is part of the patient care routine, Community Regional took the important step of incorporating new workflows into clinical practice. Now, when patients are prescribed a new medication, they receive a prompt on the in-room TV to review what has been prescribed for them, what side effects are possible and any special precautions to take. Nurses then perform “teach-back” education to ensure that patients comprehend the information.
Pairing interactive education with reinforcement from the bedside nurse helped transform medication teaching for the hospital, and, in turn, their patients' satisfaction with their experience. Community Regional saw improvements for HCAHPS measures related to patients' understanding of their medications and feelings about whether staff communicated well. The key was to engage staff and patients in a way that made them partners in the care process.
Beyond patient engagement to Precision Engagement
The real challenge to solving the patient + engagement = satisfaction equation is to recognize that “engagement” means more than just making a patient feel occupied. Granted, passing the time during a hospital stay is no easy task, and entertainment has value in taking one’s mind off of things. However, those looking to improve patient satisfaction scores should take a fresh look at the full patient experience: engaging patients in a genuine way that makes them feel informed, and, most of all, heard. Often, a good service is one that provides a two-way channel of control and communication, which is why effective patient engagement is fast becoming Precision Engagement™.