Measuring patient satisfaction is complicated, as the patient experience is multi-faceted and challenging to classify, much less gauge. However, across the industry, healthcare leaders, providers, regulators, and patients agree that the patient experience is a critical component of high-quality care. Here, we will look at why the patient experience is so important, how it is currently measured and defined, and how hiring locum tenens physicians and advanced practice providers can help you improve your patients’ experience – and ultimately, your bottom line.
Why is patient experience so important?
Patient experience matters. Research shows that when patients are satisfied, they are more compliant with treatment, more focused on healing, and less likely to file malpractice suits. Further, we can presume that satisfied patients will be more apt to return for care, to draw in family and friends, and to post positive reviews online, bolstering the reputation of their providers, practice, and overall healthcare system.
Patient experience has been deemed so critical that it comprises one arm of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) Triple Aim of “improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); improving the health of populations; and reducing the per capita cost of health care.” These three aims have been considered interdependent, and failing to focus on all three can lead to less than optimal outcomes.
Measures of patient experience
As for categorizing and quantifying patient experience, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey has been designed to measure patient perception of care and is also used for CMS reimbursement, which can significantly impact a facility’s finances. We’ve considered HCAHPS measures and additional measures of patient experience to demonstrate how adding locums providers to your staff can help improve patient satisfaction, which can ultimately contribute to fulfilling the Triple Aim and to boosting your reputation and your bottom line.
8 ways locums can improve patient experience
1. Communication with doctors, nurses, and hospital staff – Locums can serve as effective and empathetic providers who communicate directly with their patients. However, they can also be utilized to pick up responsibilities which would typically fall on permanent physicians and advanced practice professionals, alleviating time constraints so your core medical staff can dedicate undivided attention to their patients.
2. Pain management – There are locums in every specialty. Bringing in a locums anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist can help streamline your anesthesiology department, ensuring patients have adequate access to immediate, effective, and safe pain care.
3. The hospital environment – Locums are skilled at adapting to new environments and can help ease the stress your permanent providers may be experiencing. Having ample medical staff can help your patients feel secure, relaxed, and confident within your facility. After all, patients can sense a tense atmosphere, and this is not conducive to building a strong reputation.
4. Transition of care – Locums are accustomed to transitions. Due to the nature of their assignments, locums know they must be thorough, documenting accurately and transitioning care of patients carefully and effectively.
5. Culture – Each patient brings his or her own history and identity. Locums know to thoughtfully consider every patient’s health status, heritage, language, socioeconomic background, family, etc. when providing care.
6. Quality of care – When you partner with a locums company that works diligently to interview, vet, and credential providers, you can be confident you’ll have a quality professional. Increasing numbers of professionals – both emerging and seasoned providers – are choosing the locums lifestyle. These are high-caliber, well-trained doctors and APPs who simply love the freedom and flexibility locums brings and who will be an asset to your team.
7. Speedy responsiveness – When your providers are taxed, they cannot be efficient. Appointments begin to fall behind, nurses and physicians cannot return calls, staff becomes overwhelmed. When patients are kept waiting, satisfaction plummets. Locums can pick up slack, help get appointments back on track, call patients, and improve response time, leading to much happier patients.
8. Satisfied providers – Provider burnout is rampant across the industry, especially in times such as these. The addition of locums can help you give your team members a break. Locums can ease schedules, reduce hours, and free up time for providers to take leave. Patients notice when there is not adequate staff. They also notice when their providers seem to be dissatisfied due to limited time.
How Cross Country Locums can help
Patient satisfaction is complex. Evaluating and striving to improve the patient experience can be time-consuming. However, it is an essential component of your facility success. Our team at Cross Country Locums can help you improve patient satisfaction with locum providers. Contact us to learn more.