"Always Excellent"

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Focus on satisfaction paying off for our patients and our health system

UH Clinical Update | August 2019

By Cliff Megerian, MD, FACS
President, UH Physician Network and System Institutes

Many months ago, I wrote about how we as physicians can create a positive experience for patients, by taking three precise actions - and how that is more important than ever.

Now we see the effect of that in black and white, in our recent patient satisfaction scores. More details on that in a moment.

In that previous blog, I mentioned how I, too, had adapted my behavior with patients to include all the actions that we know patients care about. They might seem simple, but that doesn’t mean they have always been followed. 

Yet we know these are essential to a positive patient experience:

  • Sitting down at the bedside or in the exam room and introducing yourself by name
  • Greeting the patient by his or her name, and making eye contact (not looking at a chart or laptop)
  • Asking the patient, “What is your biggest concern today?”

These are the best practices that ensure patients understand what we have told them, which is crucial to their health outcomes. But at the most basic level, it is the right thing to do. We are treating our patients the way that we’d like to be treated if we were patients.

Thanks to the diligence with which many of you now do this, these practices are working – magnificently. For the first time ever, our HCAHPS scores show that the vast majority of people who were inpatient at our hospitals described their experience as “always” excellent.At UH Geneva, UH Conneaut and UH Geauga medical centers, it was more than 90 percent.

In our ambulatory settings, our CGCAHPS scores have also increased, and in most cases more than 90 percent of responses are in the highest possible category. For all our physicians in the system, about 93 percent of ambulatory patients say that how they were treated was “always” excellent.

We can certainly be proud of this. I know I feel good when I look at my own scores as a physician and see that I am nearly a 5-star doctor, and I imagine you do as well. It also makes us proud of the entire UH system.

But there are significant practical implications to this, too. We are focused on helping physicians improve their patient experience scores as we know that each year, more and more patients are using these scores and online reviews to make decisions about which doctors they seek for care. Doctors who are able to effectively communicate and engage patients have higher patient experience scores and better online profiles. This is the new reality of how patients seek care and we want to support you and your practice in a digital era.

Additionally, organizations such as U.S. News & World Report, are using these scores to delineate hospital rankings. In fact, the category of ‘patient safety’ has been changed to ‘patient satisfaction.’ Patient satisfaction also figures prominently into the ratings we receive from CMS.

So I want to congratulate you, and thank you. Let us keep doing this. We are clearly winning in this arena, and at it is a testament to the good care you provide.

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