5 ways hospitals are working to improve patient experience

Hospitals across the country have launched new initiatives to boost their patient experience ratings, The Wall Street Journal reported May 28.

CMS requires hospitals to administer standardized national surveys called Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems to gain patient feedback. These are compiled into scores on the agency's Care Compare website, which some patients use to decide where to get care. Hospitals looking to improve their scores have turned to the hospitality industry and consumer companies to learn how to transform dissatisfied customers into loyal ones.

"Consumer expectations are being set by industries outside healthcare, and the onus is on us to be better about meeting those expectations and finding where we can go above and beyond," Heather Geisler, a former senior vice president of global brands for Hyatt Hotels who joined Detroit-based Henry Ford Health in 2020 as executive vice president and chief marketing and experience officer, told the Journal.

Here are five initiatives hospitals launched to improve their patient experience:

Have chef-made food

New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health are utilizing professional chefs in their kitchens. Patients are given a small menu from which they can order at any time. Food is made on demand by award-winning chefs. The prepared foods have reduced salt and sugar, avoid saturated fats, and minimize frozen and canned ingredients and fried goods.

"We did all this without increasing food costs," Sven Gierlinger, chief experience officer at Northwell, told Becker's in November. "We've utilized our purchasing power as a larger organization. It doesn't cost more to cook fresh food if you have the right talent because buying processed food is actually pretty expensive."

Make rooms sparkle

UC Health’s University of Cincinnati Medical Center overhauled its approach to cleanliness with a "culture of clean" program. The program required department leaders to go on patient rounds to observe cleanliness protocols. Patient surveys on the room are tied to a portion of their bonuses. In the first quarter of 2020, its cleanliness score rose from 62.1 to 69.5 on a scale of 0 to 100, according to the Journal.

Show more respect and courtesy

AdventHealth launched a Whole Care Experience training course for all staff members where they learn how to engage with patients in difficult situations and convey courtesy, respect and empathy. The simulation uses actors posing as patients to help staff learn to connect and anticipate needs and concerns. Staff members practice how to acknowledge and apologize for an issue, explain how they will correct it and then act on it.

Get patients involved in their care plan

Cleveland Clinic holds daily plan-to-care visits at the patient bedside which includes physicians, nurses and other clinicians as well as the patient. They discuss the patient's care with the team and provide a notebook for patients to take notes.

The visits "are the most impactful thing we’ve done in terms of improving the patient experience," Leslie Jurecko, MD, chief safety, quality and patient-experience officer told the Journal.

Use virtual nurses in patient discharge

Marietta, Ga.-based Wellstar launched a virtual discharge process in May 2022 that uses virtual discharge nurses. The nurses meet with patients over a video screen and cover the patient's follow-up plan, care at home and medications. Families can join the video call and ask questions as well. The average call lasts about 22 minutes and 89 percent of patients reported favorable experience with the discharge process.

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