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About A. Woodward & Associates

Our companyís primary focus is to help clients develop healthy patient and staff relationships. Our consulting services are customized to your organization, and your specific needs. Areas of expertise include customer service, organizational communications and employee engagement.

A. Woodward & Associates was established in 1999 by Anita B. Woodward, MBA, FACHE. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, we have clients in all parts of the country. Anita has over 20 years of healthcare management, customer service, and human resource experience, and her associates have a variety of complementary skills and experiences.

October 2007 Newsletter

10 Tips to Improve Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is in the healthcare news more than ever. With the planned release of HCAHPS patient survey data to the public early next year by CMS, patient satisfaction will be a hot topic in the popular press as well.

There are an unlimited number of ways to improve the patient's experience. By improving the experience, we improve satisfaction scores. Improving the experience should really be our goal, and then the satisfaction scores take care of themselves.

The following ten tips are simple to implement and will apply to just about any facility. For ideas customized to your facility, talk to your survey vendor, or contact A. Woodward & Associates. We specialize in helping clients choose and implement improvements that will improve the patient's experience. Email us or call 216-631-1852.

Improving Outpatient Satisfaction Improving Inpatient Satisfaction

1) Offer a warm greeting when patients first arrive. Avoid desks with sign-in sheets and no people, or people seated to the side of a sign-in sheet. Avoid robotic greetings from bored receptionists, or harried greetings from overworked staff. The first impression should be warm and friendly.

2) Make eye contact with patients and family members. This applies to everyone; receptionists, registration staff, escorts, technicians, and certainly clinical providers. Everyone has heard this, yet it is frequently neglected.

3) Walk with the patient when taking them back to an exam/treatment area. Too often someone comes to a waiting room, calls out a patientís name, and then turns and walks back through a door without even waiting to see if the patient has followed. Wait for the patient, greet them, hold any doors open for them, and walk by their side or behind them, not seven paces in front of them.

4) Introduce yourself Ė giving people your name is a sign of respect; it shows you think they are important enough to know your name. Then tell them your role, not just your title. Lay people cannot differentiate all the titles we now use in healthcare.

5) Give clear explanations of what you will do, and what the patient is to do. Often we neglect such simple things as telling patients whether they should open the curtain after they have changed; whether they should stop at a desk on their way out; etc. Practice scripts on real patients and ask them what is not clear. Then modify.

1) Assure patients have a welcoming admission process. This starts downstairs Ė in registration, at the surgery center desk, or in the ER. The process includes the patientís transport to the unit, their arrival on the unit, and their first few minutes in their room. Create a non-clinical "pathway" that assures all staff are warm, welcoming, and handle hand-offs well. Patients should not see or sense chaos, confusion, resentment or apathy, and yet they often do during this process.

2) Offer an immediate orientation to the floor when patients arrive. If patients are conscious, they have many questions. Do not make them wait and wonder if you remember they are there. Tell patients the usual things about TV, call lights, etc. But also tell them what info in the large packets is most relevant, how things work on the floor (mealtimes, wake up times, bathing, etc.), and any restrictions on the patientís activities, such as needing help to the bathroom.

3) Introductions should be given on each shift. Use a white board and keep it up to date! Include nurses, doctors, therapists, environmental services staff and anyone else who will regularly be in and out.

4) Sit down! Patients subconsciously see this as warmer and more caring than standing. It also creates the illusion that you have spent more time than you did. This is fairly common knowledge, but not regularly practiced. It makes a big difference!

5) Make regular pro-active offers to meet basic comfort needs. Whether you call it rounding or not, regularly asking if patients need help with toileting, pain, positioning, room temperature, water, etc., not only makes patients feel you care, but it cuts down on call light use. Research has now proven this technique works to benefit patients and staff.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Anita Woodward, FACHE, will be speaking in the following locations in the next few months. Please stop by to visit, and let her know how we can make our e-newsletter and our consulting services more useful to you.

  • September 30-October 4, American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services annual meeting, St. Louis, MO. Her topics will be "Giving Effective Feedback" and "Improving Patient and Nurse Satisfaction with Environmental Services." Go to www.ashes.org for more information.

  • June 10-12, 2008, Michigan Association of Healthcare Advocates annual meeting at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI. Her topic is "Making Meetings More Productive." For more information, go to the MAHA website or contact Mary Lou McFadden, VP of Education.

Real Life Customer Service Case

The following situation really occurred. Consider using it as a case study for quick discussions in staff meetings.

The woman arrived for her visit with her physical therapist, who greeted her and escorted her to the treatment room. After closing the door, the PT asked the patient how her week had been, and the patient immediately responded that she had experienced a great deal of intense pain. After listening for a few moments as the patient described the pain, the PT leaned forward in her chair and expressed her sorrow for the patientís experience, and then asked, "Can you tell me more about what you were doing when you noticed the pain was worse?"

  • Identify at least three things that the physical therapist did that were seen positively by the patient.
  • Which of those things would mean the most to you as a patient? Why?
  • How do you already validate your patient or internal customer's feelings?
  • What other opportunities are there to do that?

We welcome your feedback, questions and story ideas!

Let us know if you find this newsletter helpful. If you have a case study you would like us to include, or if there are certain topics you would like to see addressed, please email us.

About This Newsletter

This newsletter is published for clients and colleagues of A. Woodward & Associates, and for others who are interested in customer service, employee relations, and organizational communication, especially in healthcare organizations.

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