More and more, the level of satisfaction that patients get from their experience of a visit or stay at a hospital directly affects how successful the institution can be.
As the world of healthcare continues to go through a metamorphosis, patient feedback continues to take a bigger and bigger role in shaping the reputation of hospitals. A bad reputation will cost the hospital future patients, and even more severely, will determine how much money it is allotted from the government and from private insurers.
There are now a multitude of venues for critique and criticism that carry a great deal of weight with the public—Facebook has even been proven to be a surprisingly accurate indicator of a hospital’s approval rating, according to Health IT Outcomes. Positive Facebook reviews have a remarkably tight correlation with hospitals’ low-readmission levels, meaning that the hospitals that do not make mistakes (and thus do not require the patient to return), and are hence getting their credit on the world’s largest social media database.
In short, accurate reviews of healthcare institutions are everywhere, and are accessible to anybody. It is no wonder, then, that hospitals and clinics across the country have begun adamantly making reforms to their policies, hoping to add some compassion to their care.
Hundreds of hospitals, though, are finding it quite challenging to reel-in positive patient reviews. Kaiser Health News reported the story of Rowan Medical Center of North Carolina, which is among the lowest rated healthcare institutions in the country.
Hospitals that have a history of malpractice or poor bedside manner, such as Rowan, often find it difficult to escape their previous reputations, despite any improvements that they may have made since their previous errors. Additionally, the Medicare method of assessing hospitals from the patient’s perspective (a survey that has the patient rank the hospital on a scale of 1-10, among other examinations) is very tough, as they only reward hospitals if patients give them a 9 or a 10 on their scale. Thus, it is hard for poorly-rated hospitals to receive the funding that is necessary to training their staff or improving infrastructure.
In April, though, the government intends to kick-off a new system for ranking hospitals, which will entail a five-star scale. Officials hope that this will be easier for the consumer to understand, and will hopefully help improving hospitals avoid the stigmas of the past.
There are many ways that a hospital can improve their quality of care. According to a survey conducted by the Schwartz Center, the most successful and highly-rated hospitals in the country:
- Place a high priority on their staff, so as to avoid physician and nurse burnout
- Involve and interact closely with the families of patients.
- Emphasize quality care and compassion when training their staff.
- Have a set-in-stone schedule for their staff, so no patients are left unattended.
- Keep procedures as simple as possible for their patients.
Patients clearly crave a strong interpersonal relationship with their healthcare providers. Bedside manner is everything.
With luck, hospitals with poor satisfaction ratings will take advantage of the new government-implemented scale come April, and will continue to employ the aforementioned tactics in order to boost their overall patient-friendliness.