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Dear Mr. Hospital CEO: Here's How to Boost Patient Satisfaction

Dear Mr. Hospital CEO: Here's How to Boost Patient Satisfaction

Having worked in both public and private hospitals for over three decades, I know a thing or two about how hospitals run. As the competition for the healthcare dollars intensifies, I see certain recurring themes — many of them not good for patient care. Therefore, what follows is an open letter to all hospital CEOs or administrators about what patients remember and appreciate about the hospital, and their stay; be it by their choice, their doctor’s choice, or from an emergency admission.

• Just because your competition down the street has a chest pain or stroke center, doesn’t mean you need to have one too. Patients are more interested in quick and compassionate care, not marketing tricks.

• It takes more than a name to be an “institute” of anything. Many folks are reminded of a psychiatric facility when they hear the word “institute.” Just because you label your hospital a “fill in the blank” institute, does not make it into a center of higher learning and superior care.

• Yes, patients appreciate better quality food, but here are two things they value more: clean rooms and prompt answering of their nurse call bells.

• Rather than buying the latest CAT scan or MRI machine, how about hiring more nurses and secretaries who are key linchpins in providing superior care?

• Instead of spending millions of dollars to “spruce up” or build new operating rooms or ERs, how about improving your IT programs? Then nurses don’t need to sit at a computer for hours charting instead of caring for their patients.

• Make nurses and other hospital workers “co-owners” of the facility so they won’t feel like replaceable hired hands and have to run and join a union.

• Stop staffing your floors with so many contract nurses, be it travelers, agency, or part-timers, using an excuse that the hospital census is unpredictable. We all know you are doing it to save money on benefits such as health insurance, 401K, vacation time, etc. Although capable, these folks can’t possibly learn a new computer system and unique patient medication administration records on “the fly.” I wonder how many more malpractice incidents are caused by part-time or agency nurses after being thrown into an unfamiliar setting.

• Use compassion as part of your mission statement. The word may be there, but your actions say you are more concerned with the return on investment to your board of trustees or stockholders.

And if you know anyone in hospital administration, please forward this to him or her. Let’s start a chain letter that might have a positive impact on all of our lives and those of our loved ones, when ill.

Find out more about David Mokotoff and our other Practice Notes bloggers.

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