How to improve your patients' hospital experience

By: Dinethra Menon – MedicalSearch Writer
15 June, 2015

A visit to the hospital can be a stressful experience for patients and their families.

While staff efficiency and effectiveness can improve patient outcomes, long shift hours can be an unavoidable aspect of working in a hospital, and can impact on standards of care for patients, medico-legal complaints, long-term patient management, or continuity of care.

A focus on quality patient-centred healthcare is a prerequisite for hospital patient satisfaction.

Engage with patients and offer emotional support

Support within the hospital can reduce patient stress and improve outcomes. Engaging with families can also lower anxiety levels, offering reassurance to provide better care at home after discharge.

Consider offering access to complementary support in the form of hospital programs, allied health staff and educational materials. Focus on keeping discussions with patients and families respectful and informative.

Use electronic tools for efficient info transfer

The continuum of quality clinical care relies on efficient communication between multidisciplinary staff and departments within hospitals. Multidisciplinary staff may consider electronic delivery of lab results, or providing patients with online tools and a patient portal. Unique patient identifiers can facilitate accurate and secure transfer of patient health information.

Read more on eHealth records from the National eHealth Transmission Authority (NEHTA)

Improve physical comfort

Improving the physical environment of the hospital can impact positively on patient experience. Raised noise levels in hospital can affect sleep and increase stress for patients via heightened blood pressure and heart rate. The length of stay can offer some insight into the efficiency of hospitals, and may even offer opportunities to assess alternate approaches to delivery of healthcare.

Read more from the National Health Performance Authority, Length of stay in public hospitals 2011-12

Collect patients' healthcare experience feedback

Although hospital policies may be in place for medical procedures and care, many hospitals struggle changing the way healthcare is delivered to patients. Hospital leadership, regular monitoring, and supporting a learning culture can improve the way patient care is delivered.

In 2010, the Australian Commission on safety and quality in healthcare suggested that useful feedback from patients about their healthcare experience can be obtained from patient surveys and complaints, and may bring patients' experiences 'to life'. The best way to improve any practice is to listen to the people who matter and learn from mistakes.