On episode 157 of RNFM Radio, we focus on the latest Internet hubbub about patient satisfaction, HCAHPS scores, and the ways that this movement within healthcare is impacting nurses whose boots are on the ground.
This conversation was spurred by a May 22, 2015 post on KevinMD.com, and we highly recommend reading this article to get the gist of the conversation. As of this writing, this post has been shared more than 62,000 times, so Kevin MD seems to have hit a nerve. Of note, Kevin MD’s post was a direct response to an April 17th, 2015 article in The Atlantic, entitled, “The Problem With Satisfied Patients”, the subtitle being, “A misguided attempt to improve healthcare has led some hospitals to focus on making people happy, rather than making them well.”
Some of the points that were raised during the episode included the notion that it may be human nature to focus on the negative, and we wondered aloud if patients who have negative experiences are more prone to speak up than those who have positive ones. Even on Yelp! or Google Reviews, it can seem easier to say something negative than to wax poetic about what was right. And some research may bear this out.
Elizabeth mentioned that nurses can choose to be “beacons of light”, focusing on the positive, despite the ways in which the media paints healthcare negatively. We are the frontline caregivers, and the ways in which we interact with our patients is what can frequently make the difference in the quality of care. We may need to keep patient satisfaction scores in the back of our minds, but simply providing the best possible care we can is one way to contribute our own positivity to the mix.
Meanwhile, if we focus only on patient satisfaction, perhaps we’re missing some portion of the bigger picture. In order for the members of the healthcare team to provide the best possible care, perhaps it would be prudent to also evaluate and calculate employee satisfaction, as well. The professionals with “boots” (or booties!) on the ground also need to feel happy at work, and it’s a no-brainer that employee satisfaction does, of course, directly impact patient care, patient outcomes, and patient satisfaction.
Patient-centered care is one answer to creating improved satisfaction and outcomes, especially if patients can be made to feel more a part of the care team, not just an object of care. If the patient is the center of the wheel, that’s a positive thing.
Meanwhile, the nurse also needs to consider that he or she is the center of their own wheel/universe. When you focus on your own values and needs vis-a-vis your nursing career, you can, as Elizabeth said, envision the career that you want, and then make it happen. Elizabeth raised excellent points, among them:
- Does your workplace “feed” you?
- Are you appreciated?
- Is your input valued?
- Are you sufficiently challenged?
- Is your workplace culture a positive one?
- Do you need to move on and create something new for yourself? If so, are you clear on what that might be?
Patient satisfaction is important, but you as a nurse also need to be satisfied and happy. We can moan about what’s happening “out there”, but we can also focus on what’s happening inside of us. You can speak up at your workplace and do your best to make patients happier by making real change in how things are done, and you can simultaneously speak up in your own life by making sure your work and career are as satisfying and happy as they should be.
You are amazing!
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