Are you asking questions that matter?
The patient experience is complicated. While we believe that the questions from the HCAHPS survey do cover important topics, there are many other aspects of a hospital stay that impact the way a patient feels about their total experience. So, what are some other questions you could ask to supplement the required set?
How often did hospital staff members wash their hands when they came into your room?
About 5% of all inpatients a year acquire a hospital related infection.* How many of your patients are included in this number? Some estimates I’ve seen suggest that only about half of doctors and other staff routinely wash their hands when entering a patient room.
While I don’t know how many of those infections are a result of lax hand washing by hospital staff, it’s common sense that strict hand hygiene can help avoid the spread of infection. With an increasing concern for antibiotic-resistant germs, patients like to see their medical staff taking every possible precaution to prevent an infection. Feedback on this question has the potential to pinpoint where this is and isn’t happening within the facility, while providing evidence that you take patient safety seriously.
To what extent did you feel a sense of compassion from our staff?
The last thing a patient wants when they are already feeling at their lowest is a rude, inconsiderate, or non-empathetic doctor or nurse making them feel worse. By including this question, you send a message to your medical and support staff that empathy matters.
By asking the patient for the staff member’s name, you may be able to pinpoint which individual medical staff are doing a great job at showing their patients empathy and compassion, and which ones are not. It’s worth knowing–and acting on, if patterns appear.
How would you rate the quality of the food offered to you?
It’s obvious that most hospital patients aren’t feeling their greatest and may not even be in the mood to eat. However, food is an integral part of the healing process and gaining the strength needed to recover from an injury, surgery, or other health issue. The food and beverages offered should be responsive to the patient’s medical needs, and to their preferences, as much as possible. For example, an individual who is in the hospital because they suffered a heart attack should not be offered foods that are high in sodium and saturated fat, as my sister was! We found through research in a Cajun community that many patients complained that the hospital food was not spicy enough–suggesting the needs for more patient education along with their lower-sodium diets!
Other questions that could be helpful in gaining insightful feedback for your hospital are:
- Who was the most memorable staff member you met? Why?
- How welcoming were we to you and your family?
- How would you rate the ease of parking at our medical center?
To learn more about how to make patient surveying more effective, download our free white paper.