If you’ve been hospitalized in the past, you probably received a survey when you left that asked, “Are you satisfied with your care?” “
Patient satisfaction is important because it helps hospital staff generate patient data, create new initiatives and improve transparency. I have been to many hospitals during my chronically ill career. Here are some things that left me satisfied with my care.
Responsiveness and precision
In March 2019, my cystic fibrosis care team at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) in New Jersey transported me to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital for my bilateral lung transplant evaluation. At the very least, I expected my new nurse to ask me all of my medical history, followed by several routine questions. Instead, everyone on the unit knew my name and could relate my most recent medical history. I felt welcome, calm and confident, which greatly contributed to my satisfaction as a patient.
There were also times when my blood test results had red flags. I would panic, knowing that shaky results could foreshadow a decline in lung function. A follow-up message from my clinic reassuring me that there is nothing to worry about has always made me feel better.
When my team goes above and beyond
Two of my respirologists at RWJ met me at Starbucks while I was suffering from shortness of breath in 2019. Mom and I had been checking my pulse oximeter throughout the day. Despite the seemingly stable oxygen statistics, I knew something was wrong with my lungs. My mom texted one of the doctors and asked if we should go to the emergency room. My doctor answered “Yes” and set up a meeting at the hospital’s Starbucks to avoid germinated emergencies.
Not only were these accommodations beyond her call of duty, but her willingness to provide her cell phone number made communication easier.
When strangers go beyond
If you ask a staff member at Duke University Hospital where your clinic is located, they will be able to tell you. They are happy to help, whatever role they play.
Not all physicians exchange phone numbers with their patients. This trust and rapport is built over time. However, it relieved a bit of stress when I was too sick to call the front desk. On the other hand, portals, which are secure online websites, have come a long way. Watching my own test results gives me a sense of control.
The appointment itself is not the only stressful part of going to the clinic. I need a ride to the clinic. Then I have to pay for a parking space that I can’t find. My co-payment is due before the appointment, and sometimes I forget to fill out my portal papers. Alleviating these worries is helpful and improves patient satisfaction.
Some clinics allow me to pay through the portal after my appointment. They send SMS reminders and an army of valets help me park my car for free. Some establishments also offer things to caregivers. Social workers offered my mom or husband meal vouchers, coupons, a more comfortable chair, or discounted parking.
Sense of technology
Technological know-how breeds confidence. This tells me, the patient, that the healthcare professional is up to date with the latest technology. It may also imply that they have satisfied customers who have become donors – enough to afford top-of-the-line equipment.
The opportunity to represent
I like being offered opportunities to be part of my clinic community. I have given speeches, emailed photos for brochures, and attended webinars. Group emails on the latest events bridge the gap between the clinical environment and the knowledge of the humans I see on a weekly or monthly basis.
Environment and themed decoration
Walking into a cramped room with dozens of coughing patients is never comforting, especially if, like me, you are immunocompromised. The wide and open corridors are reassuring. The color and decoration of the walls also make a huge difference. The paw prints on the ceiling and the cheerful blue walls are less threatening than the beige ones.
Participate in team changes
Being at my nurses’ shift change meeting gives me a sense of control. I can fill in communication gaps instead of playing on the phone. When I had been NPO (nothing by mouth) for two days and suffered from low blood pressure, my nurse intervened.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation “Satisfied” song “Hamilton” follows historical figure Angelica Schuyler through a roller coaster of emotions. She suppresses her feelings for Alexander Hamilton and says she will never be satisfied.
In my mother’s words, “Cleanliness and friendliness make a big difference.” I am always satisfied with my care, but I am impressed by the number of initiatives implemented by my clinics based on patient satisfaction. It reminds me – I should text my pharmacist.
Check back every Thursday to learn more about my story.
To note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a health problem. Never disregard the advice of a medical professional and do not delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and aim to spark discussion on CF issues.