Improve HCAHPS Ratings with the Right Nurse Call System

Patient satisfaction is a major factor in the continued success for hospitals today. With financial health and public reputation tied to HCAHPS scores, improving patient ratings remains a top priority for hospital leaders.

There’s no shortage of information on how to do it. A quick Internet search turns up millions of articles, blog posts and experts standing by to help improve scores, and while there are many approaches out there that may be effective, sustainable change requires a sustainable solution.

It’s safe to say your nurse call system is probably not the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of creating sustainable change for the patients in your hospital, but of the nine specific areas evaluated by HCAHPS, three focus on areas where the having the right nurse call system could have tremendous impact.

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Nursing Communication and Responsiveness

An effective nurse call system uses smart technology to improve communication with patients and responsiveness of the team. In a smart system, patients are highly satisfied, because team communication is coordinated, care loops are closed and no task is forgotten.

Automated messaging and reminders notify staff of patient needs on smartphones. All open tasks on the floor are displayed on giant HIPAA-compliant hallway monitors visible to the entire team. When necessary, team members help each other out by escalating tasks to the next available caregiver so that patients get what they need in a timely manner.

Smart systems track care delivery from the moment a need is expressed to the time care is delivered, confirming and documenting the patient got what they needed. When care loops are closed, patients are happier and more content, because they know when they ask for something, it will be done. Consistency of response is the key. Done well, it is a high satisfier. Consider this - a recent Amplion survey shows that patients and families are more than twice as likely to recommend a hospital when staff responds quickly and consistently to the call bell, and while the call bell is often a nurse’s worst nightmare, we’ve actually seen call bell activity decrease in hospitals with technology that enables a closed loop approach to care.

Hospitals with smart nurse call technology spend more time caring for patients and less time chasing alarms. When alarms sound in the patient’s room, alerts are communicated directly to the staff member who needs to know and pre-determined escalation paths help patients get help faster. Nurses immediately know if it’s their patient, which room, which device and the urgency of the issue versus the exhausting exercise of “where’s the beep?” When patients are less anxious about those mysterious buzzes and beeps, feel supported and have more confidence in their care team, they are much more likely to deliver top box scores on their HCAHPS survey.

Pain Management

Improving pain management is among one of the most difficult scores to move. Patient perception of how well their pain was controlled is always a big factor in how happy they are with the care they received. Let’s face it, when you’re in pain, you want attention…fast!

Purposeful rounding has been shown to impact pain management scores, and smart technology that helps staff stay on track with this industry best practice can make a big difference in patient perception. In fact,  a Johns Hopkins study shows patient satisfaction is “more strongly correlated with the perception that caregivers did everything they could do to control pain than with the pain actually being well controlled. The odds of a patient being satisfied were 4.86 times greater if pain was controlled and 9.92 times greater if the staff performance was appropriate.”

So how do you get purposeful rounding to become a standard procedure in your hospital? Again, it’s consistency. Smart technology enables consistency in care. When patients aren’t left to wonder when their caregiver will be coming to check on them, they feel more secure. This is especially important for patients in pain. Developing a pain management protocol and having technology that sends pain assessment reminders helps staff manage the quality and consistency of response and gives patients the assurance that everything that can be done is being done to manage their level of pain.

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Better decisions with clear data

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying "you can’t manage what you can’t measure." In other words, the best technology and the best-laid plans are not really enough. Achieving and sustaining higher HCAHPS scores requires a data-driven approach.

Nurse call systems that do not provide robust reporting and analytics prevent hospitals from seeing clearly and taking action. The thousands of data points collected during the care delivery process provide a gold mine of insights for hospital leadership to improve patient satisfaction, but that data is meaningless without a way to aggregate and display it in a way that can be absorbed and utilized.

A smart nurse call platform provides real time data and a reporting backend that are accessible and easy to use. In a smart system, colorful reports with visualized data replace .csv files and spreadsheets. Nursing leaders have access to data on demand and powerful analytic tools at their fingertips to make evidence-based decisions that will result in safer, more satisfied patients.

In a smart system, these reports can be custom-tailored to track specific hospital goals, and they are available for viewing on a desktop computer or a mobile device for easy reference and sharing. On demand access to real time clinical care delivery data facilitates service recovery, workflow management, coaching and training. Bottom line – it enables hospitals to establish and maintain higher standards of care for every patient, every day rather than waiting for scores to arrive and learning there are issues that need attention. Access to real time data means the care team sees clearly and takes action immediately on key issues that affect patient experience and outcomes.

Improved Patient Satisfaction

Quick response, closed loop communication, consistency of care and clear, actionable data demonstrate a level of professionalism that builds patient confidence and increases peace of mind. Nurse call technology that addresses these key areas not only leads to a positive patient perception and higher HCAHPS scores, but also to better outcomes.

We routinely see the power of this approach to care delivery with our customers. Gloria Skinner, Sr. VP CNO of Select Medical’s LTACH Division, recently told us that the data provided by Amplion “gives us unprecedented views of how we are performing in real time. Having easy to understand reports that are objective and actionable helps us improve accountability and achieve consistency in the delivery of care to our patients.”

Does your current nurse call system deliver the data you need to provide safer, smarter care to your patients? Is it time to think about nurse call differently? We would love to talk with you about how the right technology can transform patient care delivery In your hospital.

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