Every Employee Impacts Patient Satisfaction

Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, UTMB Health SystemI have the distinct pleasure of hearing from our patients when we exceed their expectations, and I always enjoy hearing about what we are doing well.

I also appreciate hearing from our patients when we do not meet their expectations. This feedback allows us to specifically improve our service and our care delivery for the benefit of all patients.

Some of you have asked me why we are so focused on patient satisfaction. The answer is simple—our patients deserve the best possible care and service.

In fact, patient satisfaction is so important that when it falls below national standards, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now penalizes hospitals by withholding funds from reimbursements.

Whatever your role at UTMB, whether you are a nurse, physician, pharmacist, food services employee, physical therapist, patient services specialists or any other employee who either enters patient rooms or has personal contact with a patient, you understand how your interaction with a patient can affect their satisfaction.

What may not always be apparent, however, is how the work of individuals who do not actually see or have direct personal contact with patients can also impact patient satisfaction. Here are a few examples:

  • Employees who work in billing and coding areas affect patient satisfaction. If the patient’s bill is incorrect, the patient is directly affected by our error. As a result of the mistake, they may have to spend time talking with a UTMB representative to resolve the error. This is unfortunate, because it places a burden on patients or family members who are either ill themselves or who are currently caring for someone who is ill.
  • Materials Management and Clinical Equipment Services employees affect patient satisfaction. If the correct materials, supplies and/or equipment are not available when the care provider needs them, patient satisfaction can be impacted and potentially, the quality of care could be affected.
  • Employees who work in Human Resources can directly impact patient satisfaction if job positions are not filled with qualified people in a timely manner; likewise, it is difficult to fill positions if we do not provide compensation at market rates. Employees who work in positions that are not the right fit for them or who feel under compensated can affect patient satisfaction.
  • Employees who support Information Systems, like Epic, can affect patient satisfaction and patient care, because when the system is down, caregivers cannot access the pertinent information they need to care for the patient in a timely way. While there are downtime procedures in place in the unlikely event that something like this should occur, it ultimately takes extra time and effort on behalf of our physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other caregivers to deliver care to the patient.

The examples are endless, but the point is the same: every employee affects patient satisfaction; every employee impacts patient care.

What do you do in your position to meet patient expectations for service and satisfaction? I would love to hear from you this week about what you and your colleagues are doing to satisfy our patients. Please send these examples to me at health.system@utmb.edu, and I will share your examples in future issues of Friday Flash Report.

THANK YOU for always working to demonstrate that patient satisfaction is important to everyone at UTMB! Each and every person truly has a chance each day to impact patient care and satisfaction.