In recent years, shifts within the healthcare industry have granted patients more authority in choosing their physicians, treatment options, and medical facilities. As a result, medical centers are quickly finding that their patients are transforming into opinionated consumers with considerable buying power. This shift has created a newfound respect for patient satisfaction; after all, a satisfied customer is more likely a repeat customer who generates even more business through referrals.
In many cases, efforts to improve patient satisfaction have focused on superficial levels, such as gourmet coffee and attractive waiting rooms. However, these endeavors can only influence a patient’s perception of care, rather than actual experience or outcome. To secure long-term growth and meet quality measures, it may be wiser to look for investments can enhance both the patient’s experience and outcomes.
In some cases, a small change can bring about dramatic effects. Replacing standard hospital gowns with a forced-air warming gown can boost patient satisfaction and comfort. In addition, forced-air warming can reduce patient anxiety, which is correlated with fewer interventions, a better overall experience, and, in some cases, requiring less anesthesia1. During the surgery itself, patient warming helps to sustain normothermia, which can lead to a reduction in the rate of infection, shorter hospital stays, and lower mortality rates, among other effects2.
As patient satisfaction becomes more closely tied to organization’s pay-for-performance measures, improvements with the potential for a high return on investment—such as patient warming—should become a priority for improved patient experience and clinical outcomes.
1. Wagner D. Byrne M and Kolcaba K. Effects of comfort warming on preoperative patients. AORN Journal. Sept. 2006.
2. Mahoney CB and Odom J. Maintaining intraoperative normothermia: A meta-analysis of outcomes with costs. AANA J. 67(2):155-164. 1999.