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Walt Disney had it right when he created the "Happiest Place on Earth."  He didn't want to provide people with a service, but he wanted to leave his guests a memorable experience.   Healthcare has most definitely become a part of the service industry, but as healthcare professionals we are also providing our patients and families with an experience.  Will it be a good experience, or a bad experience?  That depends on YOU!

Healthcare professionals are now under increased pressure to satisfy the patient, because Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement is being affected by their satisfaction.  Due to Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey, many hospitals have hired consultants to help them perfect their "patient satisfaction."  Unfortunately, not all the hospitals have interpreted this "satisfaction" correctly.

Instead of improving upon quality patient care, and patient experience, many hospitals have began offering services they did not have before.  Many hospitals have added hotel like designs, 24-hour room service and made to order meals.  Dr. Rhonda Scott Chief Nursing Officer at Grady Memorial Hospital cites, "You go to Disney for a great vacation experience.  You go to Ruth's Chris for a great dining experience. Do you think it is a great experience when I tell you that you have stage-four cancer and you may be dead in three months?"

Physicians and hospitals are in fear of poor survey scores and malpractice that they will go above and beyond to make the patient happy.  This unfortunately may not be the best thing, and a lot of things may not be addressed because the patient isn't satisfied.  Some patients have come into the hospital "diagnosing" themselves via the Internet, and expect that physicians do what they have read online.

The answer to her question is what hospitals need to be asking themselves.  How can we make this experience better?  A service is something that someone can do for themselves, hospitals need to provide the patient an experience that will most often be made during an extremely trying and terrifying time.

Most patients have like Joseph Mox have a different idea of how their "satisfaction" can be met.  Johns Hopkins developed a questionnaire that posed a list of intimate questions for their patients: What do you fear most about the ICU? What brings you joy? What gives you strength?  A question a simple as "What is the most important thing we can do for you today?", can be a big change in their experience.

Ask yourself how can I advocate for my patient while giving them an experience?  Creating a better experience for our patients is a team effort.  Starting with their entrance into a facility, and until their discharge, and sometimes their passing, a patient should be given a great experience and receiving quality patient care.  Identifying keys to improve patient experiences and knowing your role will help achieve this goal.

Healthcare is changing, but we need to think about what is the most important aspect of it.  If healthcare is now a service based business where "the customer is always right," we can have many satisfied, but dead patients.

Working in the current American healthcare system requires you to not only provide for your patient's physical needs, but also their emotional needs.  How can we improve our patient interaction skills?  Common courtesy, appropriate greetings and asking if you can do anything else for the patient at the end of your interaction go a long way. 

Never forget that a customer is likely to tell a greater amount of people about a negative experience than they would about a positive experience. 

What do you think a patient you took care of would have to say about your service?
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After listening to Fred Lee speak about his experiences as a patient, and considering your own experiences or that of family members, do you think CMS's policy of withholding a small percentage (which can add up to substantial losses) of payment to hospitals based on low patient satisfaction scores is fair to the patient, the payer, and the facility? Can you think of another way for CMS to incorporate patient feedback into a pay or no pay policy?
05/01/2015 • 
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