Most of us in healthcare recognize that fast, efficient communication improves patient care and safety. Many hospital leaders, however, remain unaware that integrated platforms for clinical communication can also improve the patient experience.
A recent worldwide survey of IT decision makers in healthcare revealed that, of those whose organizations used smartphones and other mobile devices, 96% saw an increase in patient experience scores. And among that group, 32% saw a dramatic increase.
- During this hospital stay, after you pressed the call button, how often did you get help as soon as you wanted it?
- During this hospital stay, how often was the area around your room quiet at night?
- How often did you get help in getting to the bathroom or in using a bedpan as soon as you wanted?
Besides highlighting areas that are important to patients, HCAHPS scores can determine as much as 2% of a hospital’s or health system’s Medicare payments.
The goal: Quiet efficiency
According to HCAHPS surveys, noise is the number one complaint about hospitals, so reducing unnecessary sounds is clearly key to patient satisfaction. Another driver of patient satisfaction is nurses’ response to call lights. Given that the top reasons patients call nurses are for pain medications, alarm warnings, and bathroom assistance, it’s not surprising that responsiveness is a priority.
Communication breakdowns can also keep patients waiting while nurses try to contact the lab or pharmacy or the right physician. And the longer that process takes, the less time the nurse has to spend with patients.
A comprehensive communication platform for secure text messaging, alarm and alert notifications is proving to be a solution at many hospitals. Where such systems have been implemented, hospitals are reporting positive feedback from patients and higher HCAHPS scores.
- After Sarasota Memorial Hospital became the first hospital to use Voalte smartphones for clinical communication, its number of overhead pages fell by 78%, and patients began asking why the hospital was so quiet.
- Avera Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, switched from pagers to Voalte Platform™, resulting in better patient experiences there as well. Judy Blauwet, Avera’s Chief Clinical Information Officer says, “We have improved the overall patient experience, and we know that because of our patient satisfaction scores.”
- Likewise, when UW Medicine’s Valley Medical Center in suburban Seattle switched its Renal Respiratory unit to smartphones, it became the facility’s first unit to receive a 99% rating on a patient satisfaction survey.
The personal touch
Many factors can influence patients’ experience of a hospital stay, but often the biggest is their perception of everyday interactions with caregivers, particularly nurses. Smartphones give clinicians the ability to communicate more quickly, accurately and efficiently, and to make better decisions. They also free up nurses to spend more time with patients, and that human factor can make all the difference.
Angela Geraets, BSN, RN, CCRN, is Clinical Solutions Manager at Voalte.