Encouraging Patient Centered Care for Patient Satisfaction

Hospitals are like any other organization – in order to be successful, they have to put their customers, in this case their patients first.  Like in any other organization, hospitals need to constantly innovate and improve on their guiding principles.  Improving patient-centered care or patient satisfaction does not require too many drastic changes.  However, it does require constant monitoring and feedback in order to stay on top of the game.  Remember, a satisfied patient is a loyal patient.

Here are some tips to improve patient-centered care at your facility.

Ensure that the staff is clear about their roles

Passing the buck is one of the biggest problems that can derail your patient-centered care plan.  It is important to make your staff understand that every member is a caregiver.  From the front desk to housekeeping; from the nurses to physicians, from the accountant to the CEO, everyone is expected to put the patient first.  A patient should not have to run from pillar to post to get information, answers or care.

Set goals for each department and for the hospital

Motivation is an important factor to get things moving smoothly and set objectives motivate people both individually and as a team.  One good way to motivate staff at your facility is to set goals for each department, which will lead them towards the goals set for the hospital.  Review the goals every month and chart the progress on a quarterly basis.

Encourage competition and reward the winners

Recognition is a very powerful motivator – watching others getting recognized, more often than not, compel individuals to work harder and achieve recognition themselves.  Use the set goals as a competition for a reward program.  Create a best employee scoreboard, with the metrics for achieving the position based on patient feedback.  Encourage active participation in patient comfort and satisfaction.

Establish clear guidelines to be followed

It is imperative that the staff is absolutely clear about their roles and responsibilities.  Establish clear guidelines by writing up processes and including specific examples on patient-centered care.  Create check lists for all staff members to follow and fill – from the front desk to the billing.  Encourage staff to ask questions about any doubts that they may have regarding their responsibilities and role in the facility.

Important as it is that your staff is geared towards patient-centered care, it is equally important that steps are taken to improve the patients experience at your facility.

Ask patients for feedback

It is important that you are aware of your patient’s opinion about the services and care at your facility.  Putting up suggestion boxes, administering a questionnaire to each patient, following up via mails or phone calls – these are all methods of finding out how satisfied your patients are with your facility.  Knowing which areas require improvement and putting in steps to do so, will result in more patient satisfaction.

Expedite the check-in process

A sick person is not too keen on waiting or answering numerous queries about things like insurance.  Set up a patient portal or ensure that insurance and other details are asked over the phone while confirming the appointment.  Allow appointments to be booked through the patient portal and set up reminders for the patient to follow up on.

Ensure that care provided reflects patient needs and choices

Each patient is different and will have different needs and preference.  Customizing the care plan for each patient will definitely improve patient satisfaction.  Equally important with customizing patient care is making the environment in the facility comfortable for the patients.

Encourage patient’s family to be a part of the care team

Patients are generally in a state of discomfort, pain or fear, and as such are not paying attention to information being provided.  Encourage the patient to identify a family member or friend who will participate in the sharing of information and guidance.  Family and friends are essential supports to a patient – encouraging them to be a part of the care team will make the patient more confident about the procedures and increase their satisfaction levels with the facility.

Remember patient centered care is not only better for the patients; it’s a key factor for your success in today’s healthcare scenario.


References

  1. Amber Taufen, M. (2012, March 16). Five ways to increase patient satisfaction. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.mgma.com: http://www.mgma.com/practice-resources/mgma-connection-plus/online-only/2012/march/five-ways-to-increase-patient-satisfaction
  2. Hendren, R. (2011, September 06). 10 Ways to Help Nurses Improve Patient Satisfaction. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.healthleadersmedia.com: http://healthleadersmedia.com/page-1/NRS-270551/10-Ways-to-Help-Nurses-Improve-Patient-Satisfaction
  3. Nock, B. (2015, September 10). 5 Ways Hospital Administrators Can Improve Patient-Centered Care. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.gebauer.com: http://www.gebauer.com/blog/5-ways-hospital-administrators-can-improve-patient-centered-care
  4. Rodak, S. (2012, October 18). 10 Guiding Principles for Patient-Centered Care. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.beckershospitalreview.com: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/10-guiding-principles-for-patient-centered-care.html

Study: About 1% of Physicians Account for nearly 32% of Medical Malpractice Payout Claims

Background

Malpractice suits are part and parcel of the risks involved in healthcare.  However, the majority of doctors are rarely accused or involved in malpractice suits.  Though data on malpractice suits and claims awarded do exist with National Practitioner Data Bank, this data is not open to scrutiny by public.  However, a study conducted by a group of researchers led by Dr. David LStuddert, a medical law expert at Stanford Law School, were granted access to this data to analyze the prevalence and characteristics of physicians prone to malpractice claims.  The aim of the study was to understand the distribution of malpractice claims among physicians.  If physicians, who were claim-prone accounted for the major share of all claims, would the ability to identify them lead to better and improved healthcare.

Methodology

The team, accessing data from the National Practitioner Data Bank, analyzed 66,425 claims that were paid against 54,099 physicians, from the year 2005 through 2014.  Using this data, the team calculated concentrations of claims against physicians.  Multivariable recurrent-event survival analysis was used to identify characteristics of physicians that were at high risk for recurrent claims, and to quantify the risk levels over time.

Results

  • 1% of all physicians accounted for 32% of paid claims.
  • Out of the number of physicians in the study with claims paid, 84% incurred paid claims just once, thus accounting for 68 percent of all claims paid.
  • 16% of physicians had at least two paid claims against them, which accounted for 68% of all paid claims.
  • Physicians with at least three paid claims amounted to 4%, making them accountable for 12% of all claims paid.
  • Adjusted analyses revealed that the risk of recurrence increased with the number of previous paid claims.  However, the risk of recurrence also varied according to the physician’s specialty – neurosurgeons were more likely to have a larger number of paid claims as compared to a psychiatrist.

The study however revealed that there were a substantial number of physicians within the high risk specialties who had multiple malpractice suits against them and were thus responsible for a disproportionate number of paid claims.  Doctors with paid claims end up paying thousands of dollars but still continue practicing after the case, with an increased chance of getting sued again.  This does not necessarily imply that they are bad or incompetent doctors.  In a lot of cases, doctors get sued for doing something wrong and unfortunately not understanding the mistake, continue doing that again.  On the other hand, there are doctors who are willing to undertake riskier interventions as they probably believe that the end justifies the cause.

The research also showed that male doctors were sued more than female doctors.  Similarly, more experienced doctors and those with osteopathic degrees were more likely to be sued than MDs.

Conclusion

The study reveals that a small number of physicians with distinctive characteristics accounted for a disproportionately large number of paid malpractice claims.  The question here is – can they be identified?  Is there any evidence of any other form of disciplinary action against these physicians?  Can this data be linked to other measures of quality?   While healthcare economists can hope to develop interventions that might mitigate the risk posed by these claim prone doctors, that day is still a long way off.

Nevertheless, the study is a first step, and does shine a light on the problem.


References

  1. BOODMAN, E. (2016, January 27). Small share of doctors account for bulk of malpractice payouts. Retrieved February 27, 2016, from http://www.statnews.com: http://www.statnews.com/2016/01/27/doctors-malpractice-claims/
  2. David M. Studdert, L. S. (2016, January 28). Prevalence and Characteristics of Physicians Prone to Malpractice Claims. Retrieved February 27, 2016, from http://www.nejm.org: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1506137?query=featured_home&