The four pillars of patient experience – Helping chief nursing officers achieve strategic imperatives

Chief Nursing Officers are responsible for so much in a high-stakes environment, including: quality of care, patient safety, patient and family experience, nursing practice and standards of care, leadership development, succession planning, and fiscal earnings/savings. They also face the challenge of recruiting nurses and keeping them highly engaged in their respective roles.

This job is critical, given patient and family experience and employee engagement are two of the cornerstones that help determine a health system’s overall success. Fortunately, today’s patient engagement technologies can weave seamlessly into patient care to impact both for a relatively small financial investment. The next generation of nurses has come to expect these solutions, which can lead to better outcomes across the entire healthcare continuum.

According to a 2015 study published in Health Affairs, increasing patient engagement both lowers economic costs and improves patient outcomes. Activated patients demonstrate the core behaviors that move the needle for organizations: taking ownership in their care, understanding their conditions, and being able to relax for less stress throughout treatment.

Beyond quality of care, human interaction also impacts the patient experience. Given nurses constitute more than 60 percent of these interactions, it’s important to use IT solutions that make them the best they can be. By focusing on the following four pillars, CNOs can prioritize patient engagement and empower the nursing staff to practice at the highest level of their training to ensure better experiences and patient outcomes:

Pillar 1 - Partnership with Patients
● Open lines of communication early and set appropriate expectations for patients in their care.
● Create trust in clinical staff, but encourage patient autonomy.
● Encourage patients to ask questions and learn more about their health for multidisciplinary rounds.

Pillar 2 - Educate to Activate
● Find tools and technology that can auto assign education based on diagnosis, procedure, or medications to relieve that burden from nurses.
● Ensure patients and care teams review education, so your organization can be confident that it’s effective.
● Give leadership insight into education completion and comprehension with interactive surveys and data analytics.

Pillar 3 - Culture of Accountability for Patients
● Put the onus on patients to complete assigned goals as part of the overall care plan and discharge process.
● Create lists of questions and concerns through digitized messaging so any red flags can be addressed at discharge, preventing readmissions.
● Use digital service requests so patients are comfortable and nurses can focus on clinical work without call button fatigue.

Pillar 4 - Focus on Feedback
● Give your patients a voice in real-time, so you can address potential issues before they become a patient satisfaction/HCAHPS concern.
● Use digital rounding tools that ensure nurses and leaders round to schedule, fostering a better patient-care team relationship.

The financial value is evident. A 2016 Accenture study found that a hospital system with $2 billion in revenue would have to cut 460 jobs (based on an average loaded salary of $100,000) to achieve the same 2.3 percent margin benefit that improving the patient experience might bring through revenue growth. Organizations can’t afford not to put patient and staff experience first.

By: Antoinette Thomas, MSN, RN, CPNP, VP & Nurse Executive at Oneview Healthcare, and former pediatric critical care nurse

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