Patient Satisfaction Planner

Keep the patient's 'internal clock' in mind

Once a patient makes the decision to seek emergency care, their "internal clock" starts, asserts Alex Rosenau, DO, FACEP vice chair, department of emergency medicine, at Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, Allentown, PA. The time to pain relief, the time to seeing the physician and then to final disposition are all significant points in their treatment journey, he explains. "Many techniques can help the patient to progress through the visit and still obtain a reasonable degree of satisfaction."

Bedside registration, triage staff test ordering, communication with the patient, and assurance from a physician that the patient was not forgotten all help in moving toward the goal and in satisfying the patient, Rosenau continues. "Pain relief is critical, and explanations by each staff member are immensely helpful," he adds.

TV's and phones in the room provide some help in the stable patient, and for their supporting family and friends, Rosenau notes. "Liberal use of the blanket warmer to assure personal comfort and, if appropriate, providing food and/or drink are some of the personal amenities that relieve discomfort and show professional yet personal caring," Rosenau observes.

Finally, he says, how the visit itself is "orchestrated" can set the tone for a good memory and a successful outcome. "Proper introductions to everyone in the room, listening through allowing a full airing of the patient's story — preferably with at least a few moments sitting at the bedside — answering questions and addressing unstated fears are all appreciated by patients," Rosenau shares. "Proper discharge instructions along with a printout of lab and imaging results to take back to a private physician are not only medically helpful, but are appreciated by the patient and their external medical care provider."