- How do your employees view/address patient complaints?
- Does your staff view complaints as an opportunity to satisfy patients who are unhappy with their health care experience?
- What lessons has your organization learned from patient complaints/feedback?
- What strategies does your organization have in place to respond to and/or resolve to patient concerns?
In recent years, the healthcare industry has shifted its focus to provide care that is more patient-centered and sensitive to patient needs, wants, and personal preferences. The patient-centered care model is a cooperative effort between health practitioners, patients, and their families. As a part of this cooperative effort, patients are actively participating in their health care decisions and health care professionals are committed to fully understand their patients’ health care expectations and to meet those needs. So, how do health care professionals go about fulfilling these expectations and determining what patients want? For starters, health care professionals are taking a step back to define the elements of good communication. Some barriers to good communication include language, learning disabilities, financial, or cultural differences. Despite the challenges, today’s health care professionals are striving to break down these barriers to understand and effectively communicate with all patients regardless of learning and communications styles. “Good communication between patient and provider requires that health care organizations use clear and concise written, electronic, and verbal communication.”[i] This means being transparent and responsive to patients in all aspects of their health care experience. After identifying and understanding the elements of good communication, a proactive organization performs a communication audit to properly assess the current communication strategy in place, identify any deficiencies, and determine how best to engage patients going forward. Throughout the auditing process, the organization must be receptive to the patient perspective. Listening to and documenting patient concerns can provide great insight into what may or may not be working for an organization. If there is a particular area of performance where patients seem to be consistently dissatisfied, this could indicate that the organization is not connecting with its patients as intended. A communication audit requires that each healthcare organization ask some very in-depth questions and partake in a bit of organizational soul searching. Questions in a communication audit may include: