Hospitals that provide high-quality care and meet patients’ expectations receive positive patient satisfaction ratings. Health system managers, patients, and providers expect hospitals to provide high-quality, safe, effective, and efficient services. To provide this level of service, hospitals must be secure environments. Given the increasing prevalence of workplace violence in healthcare, hospital security has also become a critical category by which patients evaluate their healthcare experiences.
Hospital administrators agree that one of the essential characteristics of a good security program is that security officers feel responsible for the environment’s physical safety, customer service, and patient satisfaction. Patients’ experiences are affected by staff members’ level of investment in their safety and security. But efforts to keep patients and their environments secure must go beyond staff training.
A robust hospital workplace safety plan keeps healthcare providers and patients safe. This plan must facilitate staff members’ ability to summon immediate assistance and the data collection that allows hospitals to meet accreditation standards. A safety culture emerges in hospitals where everyone is empowered to enact safety protocols. This culture goes a long way toward ensuring that patients experience high satisfaction. Hospital safety is, therefore, directly correlated to patient satisfaction.
The healthcare marketplace increasingly uses “patient satisfaction” to measure a hospital’s overall performance. As one American Association of Family Physicians member states, “The fact of the matter is that the marketplace […] is demanding that data on patient satisfaction be used to empower consumers. If physicians don’t get on board and try to make the data as good as possible and get our scores as high as possible, we’re going to be hurt in the marketplace. We’ll be noncompetitive.” To remain competitive—and this includes staff recruitment and retention—hospitals must achieve positive patient satisfaction reviews.
Hospitals can improve patient satisfaction by focusing on the following elements:
Care providers set expectations by communicating effectively with patients; when reasonable expectations are met or exceeded, patients report positive experiences. Every hospital aims to guarantee access to quality care; a healthcare institution’s primary mission is to provide accessible care that meets patients’ needs. In addition, patients who are educated about their conditions, the hospital’s procedures and protocols, and their providers’ roles are satisfied.
These patient-centered considerations underscore the need for programs and policies that promote a human connection between providers and patients. Research suggests that healthcare service quality indicators are the most influential determinants of patient satisfaction. Among these, health providers’ interpersonal care quality is the essential determinant of patient satisfaction. Adequate, well-trained staff who are well-supported by their workplaces can provide this type of high-quality interpersonal care. This entails communicating with patients and educating them effectively. As a result, they feel satisfied with the care they receive.
Because patient satisfaction has become a crucial indicator of overall hospital performance, hospitals can increase their bottom lines by improving patients’ experiences. Hospitals can improve patients’ comfort and safety by altering the physical environment and adopting effective security systems. Self-reported patient satisfaction rates can be drastically improved by enacting the following concrete changes:
Creating a secure hospital environment is another critical piece of the patient satisfaction puzzle. Patients who feel safe throughout their stay in a hospital are more able to benefit from the communication, quality care, and education they receive. The increase in workplace violence in healthcare in recent years obligates hospitals to create policies to keep staff and patients safe during emergencies, including incidents of violence. Creating a workplace safety plan and educating every staff member on its protocols are critical.
Security systems that include an emergency alert badge give providers instant access to assistance when emergencies occur. These badges ensure safety plans can immediately go into action. Though every hospital hopes to avoid instigating its safety plans in response to a crisis, patients who observe that their safety is a priority during these incidents may still report being satisfied with their experience. Furthermore, staff members who clearly understand their hospital’s security measures and who are empowered to enact them nurture patients’ confidence and feelings of safety.
Hospital staff must be adequately trained on security protocols to ensure the best possible outcome in an emergency. Providers may unintentionally escalate incidents of patient-on-provider violence when this does not occur. But when a clear plan is in place, and staff has rehearsed this plan, the worst outcomes can be avoided.
A workplace violence safety plan that enables every employee to quickly and discreetly report when they feel threatened allows them to focus on de-escalating violent situations and getting to safety. These employees know that a swift response is on the way. A wearable emergency button can be worn discreetly alongside an employee badge and activated without anyone noticing, notifying administrators and security personnel that an employee is in distress and needs immediate help. These emergency buttons are the first link in a system of alerts that inform all staff members of an ongoing incident and prompt them to enact their part of the workplace safety plan.
Hospital security systems that permit every staff member to report incidents also facilitate effective monitoring, as the Joint Commission requires. These requirements state that hospitals must establish processes for continually monitoring, internally reporting, and investigating various incidents. These include patient injuries, occupational injuries, property damage, and hazardous waste spills.
Importantly, too, hospitals must monitor “safety and security incidents involving patients, staff, or others within its facilities, including those related to workplace violence.” Hospitals meet these Joint Commission standards by instituting a security system that tracks incidents and records all associated data. Hospitals can protect their front-line employees through data collection and monitoring. And safe, secure employees can better provide patients with the highest level of care.
When staff and patients feel secure, patients’ experiences are positive. Every hospital’s overall goal is to heal patients. The New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst stated, “Providers want patients to feel they are being treated with dignity and that hospital personnel are making every safe and medically-advantageous effort to heal them.” To do this critical work, staff must feel secure and protected by their employers.
Hospital administrators grant their employees a sense of security by providing staff with the means to discreetly summon help in an emergency. This frees up caregivers’ mental energy to do their jobs effectively. Hospitals create a safety culture by instituting workplace safety plans that include thorough employee training. Within this culture of safety, caregivers can provide the level of care that ensures positive patient satisfaction evaluations. Safe hospitals care for satisfied patients.