Setting the Stage for the Patient Experience
October 10, 2014
I keep coming back to the patient experience as being elusive, difficult to nail down, and more difficult to actually make happen and control. Added to that is the role of the physical environment as it informs patients and families about the hospital culture, staff competency; and provides real-time “data” for their prognosis.
So, let’s talk about setting the stage. How do you pre-empt opinions and reactions by anticipating the first impression of everyone who comes into the patient room?
When we set the stage for a romantic dinner, we carefully consider the needs and desires of the guest. We think about how the front door, front hall, even the walkway to our home looks. We take care to remove any incriminating or irrelevant stuff.
We clean everything that is accessible to the guest. And, most important, we add certain amenities to make that person comfortable and put him or her in a receptive mood.
When we get married, we may do this for guests, but we also become a bit more casual, less careful, and, if anything, accepting of the impossibility of keeping up the “front” all the time for our spouse.
Recovery from an illness is as uncertain as any relationship. Just like a budding romance, what patients really need is clear evidence that the hospital staff expects them; that they took great and detailed care to welcome them, and keep them safe and comfortable; and, most important, that they matter.
The hospital room tells its own story. Leftover dust and clutter betray lack of detail in care. Stains on the privacy curtain and the ceiling do the same.
So, it’s important to remember that the environment of care is primary care. It cares for patients the way a cradle holds an infant. Your own commitment and compassion are represented in the kind of environment your patients experience 24-hours of each admission day.
This is an unending tale as patient after patient enters the same hospital room, one after another, and each needs to feel special, unique, and cared for. The equally critical challenge is for everyone else — nurses, aides, housekeepers, etc. — to have the same experience.
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