April 23, 2018

Karen Gorby: The Patient Experience – How We Measure It and Why It is a Critical Driver of Patient Care Quality

By Karen Gorby
President and CNO, Angel Medical Center

National Patient Experience Week begins on April 23. In healthcare, the patient experience encompasses everything from the quality of care you receive during your physician visit or hospital stay, to the likelihood that you would recommend a physician or hospital to others as well as how effectively your care was transitioned from hospital to home. Whether a patient needed to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, and the reasons why they came back are also taken into account.

Patient experience can be looked at through a benchmark-based lens. A nationwide tool known as the HCAHPS dashboard (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is one measure that can be reviewed daily to see how patients are being served and how we might improve our care. Developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the HCAHPS dashboard includes a broad range of assessment points, including staff communication with patients about their care, the cleanliness of the hospital, and how effectively we explain to patients their medication plan.

Some of the most important tools are those that allow patients to share their own perspective of their care experience. An exciting tool new tool at Angel Medical Center is Irounds, a “purposeful rounding” technology platform that gives nurse managers the opportunity to talk to patients directly about their pain level, caregiver responsiveness to their needs, how well patients understand their care plan, and patients’ overall comfort in the care setting. This tool allows clinicians to improve both the speed and thoroughness of hospital rounds while ensuring the patient-doctor relationship.

Hospitalized patients are also given a 37-question care rating survey after discharge that covers specific aspects of hospitalization such as hospital employee courtesy, areas of excellence or shortcomings, meals, cleanliness, and staff communication to patients and families and more. For patient and family convenience, the survey can be completed via mail, telephone, email, or smartphone text. These assessment tools empower patients by sending their feedback directly to staff and leadership.

Performance benchmarks in these areas are critical to improvement, and greatly bear on a patient’s experience after they leave the hospital. A congestive heart failure patient who’s discharged, for example, must weigh themselves daily and carefully watch their salt intake. If patients heed this self-care advice, they are likely to avoid a repeat hospitalization. These and other discharge instructions support patients and their families so that they can safely and successfully return home.

Every team member that a patient comes into contact with shapes their experience, from the nurse to the Environmental Staff, from the dietary aide to the technician who takes the time to help a visitor find their loved one’s room. We greatly value your feedback and strongly encourage you to share it with us. Of course we always want to do a great job, but as important, we always want to know how you feel. We use all information to get better, so that we can serve you and your family in the best manner possible.

Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE, is the President/Chief Nursing Officer of Angel Medical Center. Gorby is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). For nearly three decades, she has served hospitals and health systems in Ohio before assuming her role at Angel Medical Center. Gorby received her MSN from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, and her MBA from Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio.

For more information on Angel Medical Center, visit AngelMed.org.