Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare facility staff work an average of 37.1 hours every week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While this number is comparable to most work hours in other industries, the hospital work environment is vastly different and tends to be more stressful. In addition, plenty of healthcare workers work long shifts every day.
As a result, there are lapses in the quality of service from healthcare workers sometimes, most of them minor. But while these small things happen, they can compound and result in a negative patient experience.
We’ve listed some things that affect patient experience below so healthcare workers can do their best to avoid making them.
1. Being Neglected or Ignored at Reception
As the popular saying goes, “the first impression lasts.” For most patients, the reception desk is the first point of contact they have with a healthcare facility, so everything about their experience here, especially the way the receptionists greet them, impacts their first impression.
Patients or their family members may already be stressed enough because of the circumstances that brought them to the hospital in the first place. As such, it’s important to pay attention to the people looking for guidance from the reception area.
This is why the reception staff must be trained to deal with plenty of people asking many questions at once. If they are ignored or not given satisfactory answers to their questions, they will have a negative perception from the start instead of feeling cared for.
2. Staying in an Uncomfortable Waiting Room
Waiting rooms that feel like waiting rooms can negatively affect patient experience.
Most people that stay in them are either waiting for an appointment with their physician or the results of their own tests. Others are family members and friends waiting to hear about their loved ones. As you can imagine, the atmosphere tends to be pretty stressful.
When your facility’s waiting room feels crowded, is drab, and furnished with uncomfortable chairs and outdated magazines, it leaves the impression that people’s comfort is an afterthought instead of a priority.
As such, a comfortable waiting room is essential. No matter if you operate a small dental clinic or a big hospital, your waiting room must be a space that can bring visitors comfort. You can achieve this with the following:
- Wide, comfortable seating options that are enough for your patient load
- Bright and warm lighting
- Recent issues of entertaining magazines
- Small luxuries like complimentary water or coffee
- Pleasant color palette
With these small changes in your facility’s waiting room, you can make waiting more bearable for visitors.
3. Long Wait Times
Speaking of waiting rooms, the length of wait people have to endure also affects their experience with your facility. A 2017 study found that longer waits result in reduced patient satisfaction.
For one, if patients set an appointment they expect that they will be met at the right time. If their schedule has a late start, they might question why they should bother setting an appointment at all.
In addition, patients are likely to feel like their time is wasted if they are just sitting in your waiting room with nothing to do. Healthcare providers must keep in mind that patients also have their schedules to follow, so respecting their time is crucial.
4. Complicated Billing Process
Billing is mostly an afterthought since it’s often outsourced to a third party, but it can have a big impact on how patients view their experience with a medical facility.
According to the results of a 2018 patient impact survey, patients who are dissatisfied with their interaction at a hospital’s Business Office are less likely to pay their bill willingly.
On top of that, they have to deal with health insurance and wonder whether the service they got from a healthcare facility is covered by their policy. Coupled with surprise medical bills, these situations make patients question the transparency and efficiency of healthcare pricing and billing.
This is why investing in new and more efficient payment methods, such as internal medicine billing software, is a great move for healthcare facilities. Software like this streamline the billing process, leading to lesser confusion for patients.
5. Seeing Stressed and Unhappy Healthcare Staff
Satisfied patients start with satisfied employees, which means the opposite is also true. If a hospital’s staff is stressed and shows signs of it to patients, the person on receiving end of care is also more likely to be unhappy.
People pick up on others’ moods and emotions, so if a patient has a nurse or a doctor who’s stressed, nervous, or tired, the patient can feel it. This can affect not only the patient’s mood, but also their trust in their care providers.
As such, it pays not just to prioritize patient experience, but the well being of hospital staff, too.
As mentioned in the beginning, these lapses that lead to negative patient experience often start when doctors and nurses are tired and overworked. So improving the staff’s well being is crucial to providing better patient care, which leads to a better patient experience.