Hospital surveys did not begin to tell the story about patient satisfaction with registration at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, AL. The information was vague. Sometimes, it was not even clear if patients were talking about patient access or another department.

“We began looking for ways to garner more specific information,” says Wendy Lepp, director of patient access at Brookwood Baptist Health.

First, patient access leadership created an observation form. It lists specific behaviors for supervisors to look for, such as making eye contact and greeting patients by name. “This gave us a guideline to follow for observing our staff during their interactions with patients,” Lepp explains.

The form worked well for this specific purpose; however, it did not go far enough.

The form “allowed us to document how we thought our staff interacted with patients. But it still did not give us the input from the patient we were seeking,” Lepp reports.

‘Very Positive’ Feedback

Next, the department developed a questionnaire for managers and supervisors to use. “We wanted to do something that was concise,” Lepp says. “We decided on three simple questions,” which are:

  • Was your interaction with (Registrar’s Name) during the registration process pleasant, including a prompt friendly greeting from (Registrar’s Name)?
  • Is there anything we did well to schedule and register you for your services today?
  • Is there anything we can do to improve our registration process?

These questions were chosen carefully. Each sheds light on the patient’s perception of the registration process. The questions also gave supervisors “an opportunity to educate the patient in the event there might have been some misunderstanding regarding our process,” Lepp notes.

Managers or supervisors speak to patients who are waiting for a test or procedure, or call the patient at a later date.

“Overall, in the three years we have used the questionnaire, we’ve received very positive feedback,” Lepp says. Some recent examples:

  • “You were wonderful, and you registered me last time, and I love that beautiful smile. Have a blessed day;”
  • “Very proficient and courteous every time you register me;”
  • “Joy came in with a huge smile on her face, and explained who she was and what she was about to do;”
  • “Less paperwork given.”

All positive comments are included in the departmental newsletter, which is emailed to staff. Chief financial officers also are notified of the good news. “We feel the staff should be recognized when they receive positive feedback from patients,” Lepp offers.

Any negative comments are reviewed to determine what type of follow-up is required. Occasionally, a process change or staff education is needed.

“If comments pertain to a particular process we must follow, we take the opportunity to educate the patient on why we do what we do,” Lepp notes.

Every month, employees take a few moments to do something special for patients. Employees are asked to send a thank-you note to a few patients of their choosing.

“The note is another touch point as a way of connecting with our patients once they depart the hospital,” Lepp says.

These unexpected thank-you notes have fostered friendships between patients and employees. Some people take the time to come back to personally thank the employee. Some add employees to their Christmas card list, continuing the cycle of goodwill.

“The employees enjoy the positive feedback,” Lepp says. “That, in turn, continues to promote positive patient experiences.”