By Anita Klimanis, RD, LDN
A 45-minute wait in the waiting room. Unprofessional staff. A doctor who seems to be rushed. These scenarios are all too common and can leave a patient unsatisfied with his/her healthcare visit. Patient satisfaction is an important focus for healthcare facilities of all kinds. Let’s find out how dietitians and nutrition professionals can impact patient satisfaction.
What is patient satisfaction?
Patient satisfaction is a measure of how happy a patient is with his/her health care experience, whether in the hospital, outpatient clinic, or other setting. Patient satisfaction is generally measured by self-reported data from patients. Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), a standardized patient satisfaction survey, has been implemented in hospitals across the nation. HCAHPS results can even affect a facility’s reimbursement dollars. Routine patient satisfaction surveys are not exclusive to the hospital setting but are conducted across all types of healthcare settings.
How to improve patient satisfaction
1. Training staff
The easiest way to ace a test is to have the answers ahead of time, right? Staff will be better equipped to provide quality service if they know ahead of time what they may be “graded” on in patient satisfaction surveys. Educating staff on the specific questions on the surveys will help staff understand focus areas to work on when providing care.
Staff should also be educated on techniques for improving their interactions with patients. For example, a study showed that providing training to physicians on relationship-centered communication skills improved patient satisfaction scores.
2. Effective verbal communication
The HCAHPS survey conducted in hospitals specifically asks multiple questions regarding the patient’s communication with their doctors and nurses. The questions focus on whether information was explained in a way that could be understood, and if they felt clinicians listened to them. Good communication between medical professionals and patients facilitates a feeling that the providers care about the patient, increasing overall patient satisfaction.
3. Effective non-verbal communication
Having trust in a medical provider can increase a patient’s satisfaction. One study found that non-verbal communication, especially maintaining good eye contact during the visit, correlated with increased trust in the provider. Other ways to develop trust are to shake their hand, sit with the patient (rather than stand when they are seated or laying down such as in a hospital bed), and of course – smile!
4. Consider a room service foodservice model
In an inpatient setting, foodservice plays a large role in patient satisfaction. Dietitians certainly understand the impact of foodservice and nutrition on patient’s experience and overall condition. Studies have shown that a room service style model can increase overall intake of meals, reduce food waste, improve nutritional status, and boost patient satisfaction.
A sanitary environment helps promote healing and boosts patient satisfaction. The HCAHPS survey asks about cleanliness in the patient’s room and bathroom specifically. While a medical practitioners’ primary duty is not related to cleanliness, everyone can work as a team to help tidy up the environment, whether by picking up a piece of garbage, communicating with housekeeping, or by practicing proper hand hygiene.
Anita Klimanis, RD, LDN is a regional corporate dietitian with Dietitians On Demand. She provides consultant services for both acute and long-term care facilities in the Baltimore area.
Dietitians On Demand is the industry leader in clinical nutrition staffing. We specialize in expertly matching a dietitian to a client site. We hire dietitians with any type of specialty and even staff roles such as Certified Dietary Managers, Food Service Directors, and Diet Technicians. Our dietitians work permanent, temporary and PRN positions, for situations like FMLA, vacancy, maternity leave and vacation coverage. Check out our job openings, request your coverage, or visit our store today!
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