Research

Enhancing the Patient Experience

While nurse leaders have been long-standing champions of enhancing the patient experience, there is now widespread interest in the topic across the C-suite—largely driven by the recent decision to link hospital reimbursement to patient satisfaction performance.

To create lasting improvements in patient experience scores, nurse leaders must broaden their goals to address patients’ overall experience, not just discrete HCAHPS measures.

The most effective way is to pursue a holistic approach. While stand-alone initiatives require constant leadership attention and direction, a holistic strategy—where all initiatives reinforce and support one another—provides a consistent framework to guide frontline staff behavior.

While the strategies profiled in this study address the overall patient experience, improvement in this area will ultimately elevate your HCAHPS metrics as well.

Three-step framework to enhance the patient experience

The Center recommends a three-part holistic framework for improving the patient experience:

  • Cultivate caregiver empathy. Empathetic caregivers who focus on their patients as people—not just as their clinical presentation—are the foundation of a great patient experience. Learn how to build empathy by helping nurses reconnect with the reasons they went into nursing and "humanize" patients in nurses' eyes.

  • Overcome universal process barriers. This section provides best practices to address five common challenges: Minimizing disruptions to patient rest and routines, clarifying next steps for patients and families, meeting patient needs in the moment, translating clinical information into patient-friendly terms, and enfranchising patients and their families in care processes.

  • Diagnose institution-specific needs. Surface and address an institution’s unique barriers by tapping into the perspective of current and former patients.

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