In the constantly evolving landscape of healthcare, hospitals are constantly evaluating priorities including quality of care, patient safety, and costs. As healthcare continues to evolve towards value based care, the importance of patient experience and patient satisfaction have become integral benchmarks for all hospitals.  Understanding the issues patients and their family encounter can offer tremendous insight for quality improvement in terms of patient safety, patient satisfaction, patient experience, clinical workflow efficiency, and overall hospital quality ratings.

A recent study published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety titled “Evaluation of Patient and Family Outpatient Complaints as a Strategy to Prioritize Efforts to Improve Cancer Care Delivery” examined patient complaints to better understand patient experience and prioritize opportunities for quality improvement within the hospital.

Top Complaints Highlight Communication Shortfalls

The analysis of the two-year body of complaints found that communication and other patient-centered care principles often fall short of the needs of both patients and their families. The study found that nearly 80% of complaints were focused around patient-provider communication, including those with doctors, nurses, administrators, and any other clinical or non-clinical staff.

Specific complaints data shared by the published research indicates that of the nearly 80% of complaints centered on patient-provider communication deficiencies:

  • 41% reported an overall poor patient-provider relationship
  • 18% reported a deficiency of ‘humanness and caring’
  • 15% reported a general deficiency in communication
  • 5% reported poor patient-staff dialogue (clinical and/or non-clinical staff)

Of all complaints logged over the two year study period, 48% pertained to administrative issues, including billing, provider services, and access to quality care.

Care Quality Complaints Considered Most Severe

While complaints around patient safety and care quality were only 11% of all complaints, these complaints were most often given a very high severity rating. The study also suggests that the incidence of patient safety issues and events may have arisen more frequently than reported, but may have been underrepresented in total complaints, which could be the case if such incidents are handled by good interpersonal communication with patients throughout the care continuum.

Seek First to Understand

The study and data suggest that by gaining a better and more detailed understanding of the breadth of patient and family complaints, healthcare professionals can explore ways to make appropriate changes to their processes that can better help address these issues. This in turn can help the hospital to improve the quality of their patient care, patient safety, patient experience, and patient satisfaction.  These improvements could have significant positive impact on a healthcare facility and/or healthcare system’s patient safety and satisfaction scores, clinical outcomes, operational efficiency, financial performance, and overall reputation.

Admissions Department is a Key Communication Hub

As communication is the key to achieving such improvements, gateway departments, such as Admissions and Patient Registration, play a vital role in patient communication. The Admissions Department is uniquely positioned as the point of origin in the communication chain between clinical staff and patients, and among clinical staff, to create more efficient communication that flows throughout healthcare facilities. Such communication improvements at the start of the patient journey can greatly influence a patient’s perception of how they will be treated throughout the patient stay. This perception helps build a patient’s confidence in the healthcare provider and health system, and contributes to optimal patient safety and patient satisfaction outcomes.

Keeping a Pulse through Surveys

As long as hospitals are employing people to provide care for other people, communication will always be a challenge. Organizations must remain vigilant in assessing the effectiveness of communication within their walls and proactively seek ways to continuously improve. Patient satisfaction surveys are telling. Identify recurring communication issues and their root causes, and work with a team to put corrective action plans in place. Improving communication with patients and families undoubtedly improves the patient experience.

PDC Healthcare provides a wide variety of identification products that help improve communication through the use of visual cues and reminders, such as alert wristbands, communication labels, and time indicators. To learn more, please visit www.pdchealthcare.com.

Summary
Using Patient Complaints to Improve Patient Experience
Article Name
Using Patient Complaints to Improve Patient Experience
Description
A recent study published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety examined patient complaints to better understand patient experience and prioritize opportunities for quality improvement within the hospital.
Author
Publisher Name
PDC Healthcare
Publisher Logo
SHARE
Previous articleReducing Wrong-Site Operations: How Universal Protocol Was Established
Next articleA National Debate: To Arm or Not to Arm Hospital Security Officers?
Jonathan Trachtman
Jonathan Trachtman is a Marketing Manager for Strategic Initiatives at PDC where he works with hospital clients to help them improve patient safety and productivity by partnering on the development of products, programs, and solutions that meet their most critical needs. Prior to joining PDC in 2013, he led marketing for companies in the holistic health space, including natural foods, natural supplements, and nutraceuticals. Jonathan graduated from Tufts University with a degree in International Relations and continued his studies in International Economics at the University of Southern California. Unsurprisingly, he has an incurable case of international travel wanderlust, curiosity for global culture, and a healthy passion for music of all genres. A naturalized Angeleno with roots in Boston and New York City, he loves the city of Los Angeles, and the deserts, mountains, and coastal beauty of Southern California, but swears he’ll never become a Lakers fan, despite his respect for the storied franchise.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here