When patients are discharged from the hospital, they are typically discharged to home or to another care facility such as a rehabilitation center or nursing home. This transition from the hospital is a crucial time for patients to understand their care plans, their next steps, and how to avoid unnecessary return trips to the hospital. This is one of the most important steps for a hospital because it can leave a lasting impression that impacts patient satisfaction, and it is one of the only opportunities to ensure patients understand their care plans and avoid preventable readmissions. Here are some strategies for hospitals to use care transitions as a means of improving patient satisfaction.
Communicate with everyone
Internal communication and communication between care providers and patients and their caretakers improve patient satisfaction. Internal communication among hospital staff can provide insight into any issues the patient might have had while in the hospital. At the point of discharge the hospital can take the time to ensure those issues were addressed and in turn leaves a positive impression upon the patient as they are leaving.
The communication that takes place between care providers and the patient can greatly impact patient satisfaction because it is where patients or the care givers become responsible for staying on the path to wellness and following care plans. If communication is clear it can effectively empower the patient and give him or her the confidence needed to avoid returning to the hospital.
Leverage best practices for sharing care plan information
Even the most effective forms of communication will not guarantee a patient will remember his or her discharge instructions. When a patient transitions from hospital to home they are likely focused on picking their kids up from school, returning to their jobs, or almost anything besides their hospital stay. This means that when important information is shared with patients at discharge, they are likely to forget what was said or that they received their discharge information at all. When patients don’t remember their instructions they will likely feel frustrated and that the hospital did not do enough to help them remember the information.
One of the best practices for disseminating discharge instructions to patients is by utilizing the teach back method. This is when providers ask patients to restate their discharge instructions upon hearing them. This effectively engages patients in their care and presents a higher likelihood that they will remember important information. When patients feel they understand how to care for themselves they feel more empowered and have a better experience overall.
Reach out to patients post-discharge
The transition of care does not stop once the patient leaves the hospital. In order to ensure patients are on the road to recovery, hospitals must proactively reach out to patients to determine if they are at risk for an adverse event. Post-discharge follow up has not only proven to reduce avoidable readmissions, but it sends the message that the hospital cares about how patients are faring. This touch point goes a long way in improving patient satisfaction and is an additional interaction for patients to ask questions and better understand important care information.
These strategies are just a few that leverage effective care transitions in improving the patient experience. The transition of care is one of the most important for ensuring patients understand and are following their care plans. Not only do these strategies work to improve patient satisfaction, but they have the added value of helping to avoid preventable readmissions.