“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.”– Patch Adams
The line is remembered because it is TRUE.
The problem is, it is easy to fall into a habit of seeing a patient as an objective, or a problem to fix. Instead, a patient’s satisfaction with their care needs to be as important as their outcome.
Read on to learn 6 simple ways nurses can improve patient satisfaction.
Why is Patient Satisfaction Important?
In the 6 Cs of nursing, compassion is second on the list, right after care. That’s because compassion is integral to healthcare.
There are many different kinds of patients. Many patients just need minor treatment. Others need regular care for a lifelong illness. Some might simply want to be made comfortable at the end of a battle with a terminal illness.
The type and duration of their treatment will be different, but they do all have something in common.
They will all have a unique human experience.
Ironically, while the patient’s satisfaction is often the first thing to be neglected if things get busy, studies show that patients who experience subjectively positive experiences are more likely to have objectively positive outcomes.
Thankfully, it isn’t difficult to make a patient’s experience more positive. You just need to make sure you are using the following 6 simple methods.
6 Simple Ways Nurses Can Improve Patient Satisfaction
1. Build Relationships
Building a relationship with a patient is the most important part of making them feel comfortable and fulfilling the patient satisfaction. Consider someone spending a night in hospital. The room, the bed, the food and the clothes are all unfamiliar. You can’t help that, but you can become a familiar face.
By simply swapping stories, asking questions and generally making an effort to engage with the patient, your conversations can quickly become something consistent and positive that the patient can look forward to each day, so you’ll see the patient satisfaction will improve as a result.
A crucial part of building rapport with a patient is listening. Just like any relationship, if you talk all the time and dominate conversations, the other person won’t want to connect with you. Instead, try active listening to give the patient room to open up to you at their own pace, so it will eventually fulfill the patient satisfaction.
Not only will they appreciate your conversations even more, but being able to vent will also improve their treatment.
First of all, venting will help them manage their anxiety levels. While stress is mentalling fatiguing, it also affects people physically. By giving patients a chance to talk through their concerns and frustrations, you can make them feel more comfortable and improve their outlook at the same time, so it’ll lead to the improvement in patient satisfaction.
Second, they may reveal important information that is vital for their care. For instance, if you have a very proud patient, they may try to pretend that they are in less pain or discomfort than they really are. If they feel comfortable with you, they could unintentionally reveal how they are truly feeling during one of your regular conversations.
3. Be Transparent
Most people can relate to leaving an appointment and not really understanding what the nurse or doctor said. Nothing will confuse and frustrate a patient more than being in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation and not understanding what is happening.
To fill patient satisfaction, make sure you keep your communication simple and direct when discussing their illness, injury or treatment. If the patient feels that you are intentionally hiding bad news through misdirection of over complicated explanations, they will be less likely to cooperate with treatment.
Another way nurses can accidentally confuse patients is through using nursing jargon. After years of studying and working, it’s easy to forget what’s general knowledge and what’s medical terminology. Remember, patients may have little to no medical knowledge and you need to take care to explain even the simplest treatment in a way that they understand.
4. Getting Consent
Getting consent for treatment is both a legal requirement and an ethical necessity. To achieve improvement in patient satisfaction, it is important to get consent in the appropriate process and method. The first thing to consider when asking for consent is whether the patient is in the right frame of mind to give it. If you feel that the patient is mentally incapacitated, you MUST wait until they improve or ask a trusted family member.
The second thing to ensure is that they understand what you are suggesting. As outlined in the previous section, consent should always be asked for in plain, comprehensible terms.
You should also always consider how you frame consent. To fulfill patient satisfaction, patient should fully understand ALL of their options, especially if the treatment you are proposing is urgent, expensive or life-threatening. If a patient feels like they have made an informed choice, they will feel more in control of their situation.
5. Manage Expectations
Many nurses make the mistake of thinking that withholding or downplaying bad news spares their patient unnecessary pain. This simply isn’t correct.
Most patients fear the unknown because it stops them from being able to process what’s happening. In fact, when diagnosed with a terminal illness, many patients will need time to settle their affairs and reconcile with loved ones. By not sharing bad news as early as possible, you are taking this precious time away from them, which result in failure to fulfill patient satisfaction.
People often believe that keeping a positive mindset is vital to beating serious conditions like cancer. Unfortunately, this isn’t reflected in most patient outcomes. In fact, the pressure to remain positive can actually lead to stress which, as we learned earlier, DOES have a proven negative effect on a patient’s health. When considering patient satisfaction, it is important to manage expectation and reduce pressure off patients’ shoulder.
Instead, patients are encouraged to confront and discuss their feelings. Accepting their situation and coming to peace with it can actually be an enlightening experience. Somewhat counter-intuitively, it can lead to a genuinely optimistic outlook, rather than a forced positive one.
6. Be Considerate Towards Friends and Family
It’s quite common for a patient to come to terms with their situation before their loved ones do. This is especially true in terminal cases, where friends and family may wish to prolong life at all costs, while the patient wants to focus on being comfortable.
When considering patient satisfaction, you need to think of their friends and family as an extension of them. If you are friendly and responsive to the patient, but cold and dismissive to their loved ones, you can guarantee that they will tell the patient about their experience.
In situations where a patient isn’t able to make informed decisions, you’ll likely have to consult a member of their family. In this instance, you need to use the same strategies that you would have used with the patient. Build a relationship and be clear about your patient’s outlook and treatment options. Remember that in these cases, your patient’s loved ones are also suffering and need support and comfort.
Nurses Now is a nursing agency that prides itself on hiring nurses who are passionate about patient satisfaction. Our team loves working for an agency because they can have a positive impact on the lives of a large and varied number of patients.
If that sounds like the kind of work environment you are looking for, we’d love to hear from you.
For more information, visit the Nurses Now website.