Life is sweet at home

Senior Patients Thrive at Good Hospitals

Nurses work hard to give seniors great care. Photo by Christiana Care.

A good friend in her early 60s recently underwent a very painful ankle replacement surgery. While providing personal health care to my painkiller-plied pal, I observed the nursing staff take extra pains to always wash and sterilize their hands, explain medications and take our questions and concerns seriously.

But despite incredibly patience and attentiveness, the staff doesn’t run a five star hotel. It could not cater to my friend’s every need, every minute.  But as is the trend these days – the hospital staff tried!

Hospitals Need Happy Patients

As you may have read in a recent “Seattle Times” article titled “It pays off for hospitals to have happy patients now,” the author points out what I observed. Hospitals can’t just be facilities, that boast topnotch surgeons with the latest techniques and fancy equipment. They need to be personal and empathetic.

Perhaps, like me, you have survived old style hospitals where the first thing the admitting staff did was call your number and demand your insurance card? According to the article, the old model doesn’t cut it anymore. Under the national health-care overhaul, federal payments will be tied to patient attitude surveys. These surveys look at things such as noise, cleanliness, communication and pain management. As a result, the hospitals with higher satisfaction quotients will receive more Federal funds.

How will the Feds know if patients are happy? They will take a peek at the same customer satisfaction reports that you and I can see online. It’s pretty cool to learn that these days what patients experience and think does make a difference.

Happy Patients Come Back

According to an American Medical Association (AMA) article in the “Virtual Mentor,” the bottom line is that happy patients (just like happy hotel guests) will return for another procedure (or room night). Not only is this good for the hospital’s finances, it reinforces all the other parts of their mission including: prevention or promoting community wellness, decreased readmissions and healthy outcomes for patients.

Several aspects of prevention, that modern hospitals must look at as part of the need to improve their customer service, are issues such as hospital cafeteria offerings and safety. For example, when I visited a friend in a hospital in the Midwest, I could not believe the cafeteria offered such cardio-blowing foods as waffles, biscuits and gravy and Southern fried chicken. Today’s hospital that strives to make prevention a principal focus must take an ethical stance on what food it serves its staff, patients, volunteers and visitors.

Happy Staff Equals Safe Patients

In addition, a recent Gallup Poll, looking at the “best way to keep patients safe,” reports that hospitals with happy employees and high employee safety had a positive effect on patient safety. That is, employees who are involved in their hospital’s planning and work together to enhance safety, see their efforts as important. This effort toward safety “creates a compounding effect on patient safety.”

Check Customer Satisfaction

So, let me make a suggestion. Before you schedule your next procedure or surgery, checkout your hospital’s patient satisfaction report. For example, I noticed that in the EvergreenHealth Community Annual Report 2012, the facility received top marks in patient safety and outstanding patient experience from both “Consumer Reports” and HealthGrades.

This kind of recognition signals all of us as health care consumers that a facility is paying attention to what you and I already know. We know, that like in most parts of our lives, it is the personal touch that really counts.

What Makes a Great Hospital?

What makes a great hospital? Here are some factors to consider:

• Attitude & Approach of the Health Care Staff – Is the staff professional and empathetic?
• Hospital Maintenance – Is the hospital clean, serene and well-managed?
• Hospital Management – Look for efficient care and high patient satisfaction.
• Reputation and Excellence in Health Care – How does it rate with friends, online?

What do you think makes a great hospital? Tell us about your experience, please.