Everyone’s jobs have become more demanding. We all seem to do more with fewer human or material resources and those we serve have higher expectations. Healthcare is the same but with two additional factors... increased regulation/reporting requirements and their ultimate outcome... the health of its consumers.
So how can we in healthcare be expected to do more with less? Compete with hospitals across the nation on HCAHPS and positively influence the Value Based Purchasing dollars our hospitals will ultimately receive or not receive? I think the answer lies in how we deliver care.
Personal Experiences in Healthcare Settings
Over the past 4 months, I have visited or been with friends and family members in a variety of hospital settings—an Emergency Room, an Observation Unit, and a Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU). From my perspective as a nurse, the physical care provided in each setting was appropriate, and in some situations the medical advancements were astounding. But as I thought about the HCAHPS survey in each of these situations or thought about how the patients and their family/friends were treated, the technological advancement or appropriate care did not come into mind. As an observer I saw the following indications of “Caring or not caring” about the individual patients and their family member.
What Caring Looks Like
In the SICU, my friend was recovering from open heart surgery. He had 12 medications piggy-backed into his IV site… but I expected that. What impressed me was how they cared about my friend and his wife. Here are the examples of caring that I saw during my visit:
Another friend was brought to the Emergency Department at a local community hospital and received the proper tests, examination, and explanation from the doctor about what was possibly causing her symptoms. They clearly explained why they were going to have her stay in the Observation Unit for the next 23 hours. The ED care was very good and all the staff kept her informed as to the next steps throughout.
What Not Caring Looks Like
The Observation Unit was another story. Here were some of the examples of not caring about the patient:
In spite of the very positive experience in the Emergency Department, my friend has indicated that she would not want to use that hospital again because of the Observation Unit experience. In fact, while she liked the consulting neurologist, she decided to use another doctor affiliated with a hospital that she is more comfortable with.
In each of these situations, the patient and family members’ experiences and impressions of care were created more by how staff cared or didn’t seem to care about them rather than by the actual medical care they provided. I think this is much more common than we think and something we can positively affect without increasing human or material resources in our hospitals. We have to refocus on care from the patient perspective and imagine ourselves walking in the shoes of those that love them.
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