Molly Martis and Stephanie Simpson
Photo credit: Wieland
What do patients want during a stay in the hospital? The obvious answer is a clear plan of treatment that produces positive outcomes for their health. But that’s not all. According to Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience, 2018, a study conducted by The Beryl Institute, they also expect positive patient experiences (PX) across the continuum of care, including “a healthcare environment that is clean and comfortable.”
Patients have an easy way to let hospitals know what they think about PX. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires hospitals to field the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey to measure patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. The results of the patient satisfaction surveys (pronounced “H-caps”) can affect everything from reimbursements rates to comparison ratings with other hospitals.
In addition to questions about care, the survey asks patients to assess the hospital environment and if they would recommend the hospital to others. These topic areas are where design professionals can help make a positive impact. By implementing patient-focused design principles, hospitals can create welcoming spaces that influence patients’ perception of the quality of their stays and ultimately improve the overall satisfaction scores.
In many cases, hospitals are responding to the trend toward private rooms by reconfiguring existing floor plans. As a result, the footprints of patient rooms are shrinking, but equipment needs remain the same. Patients also want rooms that will accommodate their families or caregivers.
These patient-focused design elements demonstrate to patients that their comfort and need for emotional support is important for how the hospital administers their care.
The PX also has a positive effect on staff retention. Environments that are comfortable for patients impact how the medical, service and administrative staffs feel about their workplaces. Fresh design concepts, thoughtful artwork, adaptable healthcare furniture solutions and sound masking create positive work settings. In a time when recruiting and retaining qualified staff is challenging, perks that promote employee satisfaction are critical.
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Improving and maintaining high HCAHPS scores are key for every hospital in order to receive reimbursements. The ratings reflect the planning and effort that go into providing quality healthcare and a positive PX. Planning can have a positive impact on scores. Selecting appropriate furniture solutions, which can minimize cross-contamination that can lead to hospital acquired infections (HAIs) should be considered in any healthcare furniture decision-making process.
The Beryl Institute study neatly summarizes why this is important: “Experience is not something to be taken for granted, it is not just an idea at the softer edges of healthcare, but rather it sits at its heart and has significant impact and serious implications for how healthcare is led into the future.” Patient-focused design plays an important role in building and creating that momentum.
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