During the patient journey through your hospital, many relationships need to be nurtured to ensure high levels of patient satisfaction.
But are healthcare employee satisfaction and patient satisfaction related?
The patient journey and the importance of relationships
We are all wired to seek out love in order to feel safe, appreciated and give our lives meaning; this is a basic tenet of the human experience. Similarly, we value honesty and want to feel respected and understood.
These fundamental attributes extend beyond our personal relationships to those we have in our professional lives.
During their journey through your hospital, your patients will have multiple encounters and relationships with your employees. These include relationships between patients and physicians, nursing staff and other hospital staff.
Additional relationships exist between your staff and their coworkers, and hospital leadership and their employees.
Hospitals have two principal tasks:
- To create a safe, welcoming environment for all.
- To develop processes which enhance the human experience, both for patients and employees.
Hospital leadership can cultivate positive relationships throughout the patient journey and enhance satisfaction for both their employees and their patients.
This can be accomplished most effectively by exploring the connection between “what matters most to patients” and “what matters most to employees”.
The following chart illustrates the similarities:
|What matters to patients?||What matters to healthcare employees?|
|Well-being, good health, pain free||Well-being, job satisfaction, leadership encouraging self-care to prevent burnout|
|Safe and secure environment||Safe and stable working environment|
|Friendliness, caring, empathy||Friendly, caring coworkers and leadership|
|Honesty, transparency||Clear expectations, honesty, transparency|
|Being heard, listened to, valued||Being heard, listened to, valued as an employee|
|Treated with dignity, respect||Treated with dignity, respect|
|Good communication with physicians, nurses, and healthcare staff||Good communication, collaboration and teamwork|
It therefore follows that efforts to increase patient satisfaction should be linked to efforts to increase employee satisfaction.
The primary goal of physicians, nurses and healthcare employees is to provide exceptional care to patients to ensure quality outcomes and recovery. In order to deliver that level of care, and find satisfaction in their work, they must feel appreciated, treated with respect, and understood.
Furthermore, their working environment should address both their needs as well as the patient’s needs.
How can this be achieved in the light of rising ‘’burnout’’ among healthcare employees?
The problem of burnout in healthcare
Repeated studies reveal that an increasing number of healthcare workers are experiencing burnout.
Coined by clinical psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger in 1974, burnout is defined as “excessive demands on energy, strength or resources” and is displayed as “malaise, fatigue, frustration, cynicism, and inefficacy”. (1)
According to the report “Burnout in the United States Healthcare Professional: A Narrative Review”:
“The consequences of burnout are not limited to the personal well-being of healthcare workers; many studies have demonstrated that provider burnout is detrimental to patient care”.
Furthermore, a Joint Commission safety report lists staff burnout as a contributing factor to adverse events. (2)
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) provides four steps to improve the working environment for health staff in order to prevent burnout, and create joy in their work:
- Ask staff what matters to them; gain insight, build trust, understand their perspective.
- Identify impediments to “pebbles in their shoes”; ask for staff input, make changes.
- Make joy in work a shared responsibility; involve all employees, from executive leadership, to managers, to frontline staff. Celebrate successes and praise accomplishments.
- Use process improvement methodologies and employee feedback to measure progress as changes are made.
Upon entering their profession, all physicians take an oath. Today, many medical schools use an updated version of the Hippocratic Oath written by Dr. Louis Lasagna.
This update includes the following pledge to care for patients beyond their physical well-being:
“I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.”
“I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.”
The health system that is willing to focus on that warmth, sympathy, and understanding, while proving to both patients and employees that leadership truly cares, will enjoy the greatest success.
As suggested by The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, obtaining feedback from employees, listening to their needs, and working to “create joy in the workplace” is the key to employee satisfaction.
Likewise, obtaining feedback from patients, listening to their needs, and remembering that the art of medicine includes a patient’s physical and mental well-being are all essential to patient satisfaction.
Patients can make suggestions, praise staff, and voice concerns which can be shared in real-time with hospital leadership.
This feedback serves two purposes:
- iSUGEZT empowers patients and families and demonstrates the hospital’s willingness to listen to a patient’s perspective.
- iSUGEZT provides patient stories that can be shared with leadership, managers, and frontline staff. These stories can praise a staff member’s caring and compassionate actions. They can demonstrate great progress, celebrate a patient’s recovery, be utilized for training and process improvement, and increase a sense of pride for employees.
- Reith T P (December 04.2018) Burnout in United States Healthcare Professionals: A Narrative Review. Cureus 10(12): e3681. DOI: 10.7759/cureus.3681
- Sentinel Event Alert; Joint Commission; Department of Corporate Communications; Issue 57, March 1, 2017.
- “What Matters to You?” Conversation Guide for Improving Joy in Work; Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), 2017. Accessed at: http://www.ihi.org/resources/Pages/Tools/Joy-in-Work-What-Matters-to-You-Conversation-Guide.aspx
- Louis Lasagna: “The Modern Version of the Hippocratic Oath”; Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. Accessed at : https://www.aapsonline.org/ethics/oaths.htm