Nursing staff, including registered nurses, nursing aid, and nursing managers and directors, play an integral role in a patient’s experience within any health care setting. As such, these care providers are often instrumental in improving overall patient satisfaction, and are often the first to ask, “How can nurses improve patient satisfaction?”
With the right tools, training, and protocols in place, registered nurses and other nursing personnel can ensure patients are happy with the health care services they receive. The following are several steps nurses can take to improve patient satisfaction.
Today, many patients want to be involved with their own health care and, as such, desire detailed information about conditions, treatments, and outcomes. Further, according to an article published by BMC Health Services Research, patients believe that key competencies for nursing staff include “correct behaviour and attitude, composure, making time for patients, and listening and having empathy.”
To meet these patient expectations, nursing staff need to be communicating effectively and building rapport with patients. This can often be accomplished more readily with a positive attitude—research in the Press Ganey report Performance Insights: Health Care Improvement Trends found that nurses with a friendly attitude and sense of empathy are correlated to improved patient experience.
To help nurses improve their communication, leadership may want to have more experienced nurses mentor new team members. Some employees may also benefit from scripts to guide interactions such as initial introductions and patient complaints. Additionally, it is often beneficial when nurses have educational resources, such as pamphlets, videos, or even website links, that can be passed on to patients.
In addition to communicating clearly and with empathy, nurses can improve patient satisfaction simply by sitting at a patient’s bedside instead of standing. This seemingly small act has been shown to help nursing staff connect with patients.
For instance, research in the Patient Experience Journal shows a “Commit to Sit” initiative—where nurses sit with patients during each shift—can positively impact patient perception of nurse communication and boost overall satisfaction rates.
According to Performance Insights, another one of the top factors associated with improved patient satisfaction is whether the staff work together to provide care. Nursing staff are often the main point-of-contact for patients, hearing their concerns, questions, and complaints. To help nurses share this information more readily, organizations need to have procedures in place to foster communication between all members of care teams in order to provide more comprehensive care.
Additionally, leadership staff may want to find ways to strengthen relationships among members of the nursing staff. Why? Employees are more likely to communicate with, provide assistance to, and ask for help from team members who they are comfortable and familiar with. However, in a busy health care environment, it can be challenging for staff to build these type of one-on-one relationships, so management may need to encourage team-building through events such as weekly meetings.
Finally, studies have shown proper staffing and patient-to-nurse ratios are essential in fostering higher patient satisfaction levels—research in the journal Health Affairs found that in a hospital setting, each additional patient per nurse was correlated to a 1.44 percent decrease in the number of patients who would definitely recommend the facility.
The reasons for these trends are straightforward. When nursing staff have high workloads, they have less time to dedicate to each patient, which can be perceived as providing lower quality care. Further, nurses with high patient loads are more likely to be stressed or experience burnout, which can impact the way they interact with patients.
The ideal nurse-to-patient ratio in a health care setting depends on several factors, including the type of care, the nursing skill level and expertise, the number of admissions and discharges, and so on, according to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses. Currently, only California has legislation in place to regulate specific nurse staffing ratios, but several other states have more general laws about staffing safety. According to American Nurse Today, using the SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Response) technique can be a constructive way to discuss staffing shortfalls with management.
By advocating for adequate staffing levels, registered nurses and other nursing staff can help their health care organization provide a higher level of care and improve patient experience and satisfaction.
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