As a traveling nurse, chances are high that you’ve worked in a hospital that reports on patient satisfaction scores. It can be a bit nerve-wracking at first, knowing that your nursing performance is being evaluated by every patient you stop in to see. The standardized patient satisfaction survey (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems or HCAHPS) contains questions like the following:

    • How often did nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?
    • How often did nurses explain things in a way you could understand?
    • During this hospital stay, after you pressed the call button, how often did you get help as soon as you wanted it?
    • How often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for?

    You can find the entire HCAHPS survey here.

    While it’s important to be aware of the HCAHPS survey questions, you shouldn’t base your patient interactions solely around them. The best way to improve patient satisfaction is to work on creating a better patient experience overall, which will positively affect your scores. Consider the “Halo effect” as the cause of this: patients will cut you some slack when they have a positive impression of you, even if some items on the survey weren’t performed at 100%.

    These tips will help you boost overall satisfaction by creating a better patient experience. Check them out:

    #1 - Be attentive

    Even when you’re busy, headed to your break, or your shift hasn’t technically started yet, be on the lookout for patients who might require help. Some patients may be nervous about asking for help, but a silently suffering patient isn’t a happy one. Be vigilant for nonverbal cues and be willing to go the extra mile for your patients even when it isn’t convenient.

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    #2 - Set expectations

    When you first meet with a patient, fill them in on everything they can expect from their stay in the hospital. How often can they expect to be visited by you? What kind of check-ups will you be providing? How long will it take for test results to come in? Setting hospital expectations ensures patients are neither surprised nor upset at the times you come to visit.

    #3 - Find your purpose

    Don’t just think about what you need to do for your patients, think about why nursing is important. It’s more than a laundry list of little tasks; There’s a reason behind each tedious packet of paperwork you have to fill out. Most of the reasons will relate back to patient experience, even if they're indirect. Filling out a stack of paperwork might ensure a patient’s insurance goes through correctly, thus saving them the stress and hassle of having to sort it out themselves later on. Remember the patient and their comfort whenever you’re faced with an unpleasant task.

    #4 - Understand the patient’s point of view

    Being at the hospital isn’t always fun for you. Nurses are busy, overworked, and needed in 7 places at once. But look at being in the hospital from the patients’ point of view: they’re ill, stuck in one place, can’t work or go to school, can’t see their friends, etc. Improve patient satisfaction by taking a walk in your patient’s shoes and aim to make their stay as short and relaxing as possible.

    [bctt tweet="Feeling frustrated as a #travelnurse? Think about what it’s like to be in your patient’s bed! Read more:" username="freedomhcs"]

    #5 - Say sorry

    The fact is, it’s impossible for a nurse to never make a mistake. When it inevitably happens, address patient complaints or problems as directly as possible, and always apologize for the issue. It doesn’t matter if the issue was your fault or someone else’s—do not get defensive. Own up to the problem on behalf of the hospital and do what you can to resolve it. A patient is much more likely to be forgiving on a HCAHPS survey when their nurse has made a sincere apology.

    However, it is also important to note that some situations need more than just an apology. There is a key difference between taking a little longer on a nurse call (we all know how busy it can get!), and an actual clinical error. Ensure that if a serious medical error occurs you notify the patient, their doctor and any other necessary staff immediately. In these cases "sorry" doesn't cut it. Instead, focus on fixing the problem at hand and working to get your patient back to a safe and stable condition.

    Patients come into the hospital for thousands of different reasons, but they all have one thing in common: their level of comfort and satisfaction is dependent on the nurses and doctors who treat them. If you want to improve patient satisfaction, and by extension, your hospital’s HCAHPS scores, be attentive, understanding, and humble.

    Ready to find the next job where you can make a real difference in your patients’ lives? Freedom Healthcare Staffing has hundreds of the best nursing jobs listed all across the country. Find your next assignment today!

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