When a patient sits down with their HCAHPS survey to answer questions on how they communicated with their nurses, they’re going to be answering questions based on just about every communication they had with all staff members at the hospital.
In terms of HCAHPS ratings, the questions they’re answering are:
Were you treated with courtesy and respect?
How often were you listened to, and how often did nurses explain things in a way you could understand?
Remember that as patients answer these questions, they are indicating if communication “never” happened or if it “always” happened, so consistency is the key.
COURTESY & RESPECT
A big part of conveying courtesy and respect is eye contact and open body posture. Even sitting down at the bedside is much more effective than standing up and looking down at a patient.
Research even shows that patients feel that they were listened to more, and that their questions and concerns were addressed more, when a caregiver simply sat down.
In addition to courtesy and respect, provide your patients with clear explanations. Remember that the patient decides whether they understood an explanation clearly, not the provider. Minimize any confusing language, eliminate the jargon that would normally be used from caregiver to caregiver, and keep the conversation on their level. There are two main tactics that can be used to make sure that you’re explaining clearly:
- Explain your care. Explain why you are performing any function, no matter how simple, whether it’s adjusting an IV or moving a call light closer: “It’s for safety…It’s for privacy…It’s for your comfort.” If the patient knows why you’re doing something, it makes a much bigger impact.
- Listen to your patients’ responses. Listening to patients sounds like something that should be second nature, but it is imperative to make sure that patients feel listened to. This can be accomplished by employing a tactic known as active listening. Some examples of active listening include nodding your head when the patient is speaking, repeating small
details, or asking for clarification on a certain point. These tactics communicate that you are interested and engaged in what the patient is saying.
If you employ one tactic to make sure your communication with patients is effective and showing up in HCAHPS ratings, it should be to remember courtesy and respect. Sit down when you’re in a room with a patient. Listen actively and use explanations that are free of medical jargon. These simple gestures make sure that patients know that they are important and that they are more than just a case number.