May 17, 2020

TOP 10: Tips to improve patient satisfaction

Hospital Leadership
Hospital Leadership
Admin
3 min
By simply smiling, medical professionals can brighten the experiences of patients.
As more individuals require theassistance of the emergency department and hospitalsin general, the increase in demand for services results in more crowd...

As more individuals require the assistance of the emergency department and hospitals in general, the increase in demand for services results in more crowded conditions, longer wait times, and physicians practicing hallway medicine.

Here are ten points that hospitals and health care professionals should consider to stay on point for achieving the highest patient satisfaction.

10. What you put in, is what you get out.

This is a tried and proven theory that also applies to patient satisfaction. Prompt scheduling, involving the patient and family in treatment and follow-up, and having nurses get a good night’s sleep so they perform at their best seem like quick fixes but do a lot to improve outcomes.

RELATED TOPIC: The one thing every hospital can do to improve operations and reduce costs

9. Focus on, and improve, your systems.

Determine how long it will take to transfer a patient between appointments and adjust your system, by hiring industrial engineers to evaluate, to optimize performance and make patients happy.

8. Have smiling, helpful and empathetic employees.

When patients don’t fit into the systems you’ve just put in place, everyone in your organization needs to learn how to handle customer concerns and complaints. By simply delivering an apology when something goes wrong or directing patients to officials who can help answer their questions rather than just ignoring their requests changes everyone’s day.

RELATED TOPIC: 4 tips to recruit the best hospital staff

7. Interact with your patients.

Avoiding eye contact, hurrying past patients in halls and ignoring patients simply because you’re not on the clock are all cues to indifference that need to be changed. Additional examples are opposing radios playing in two different administrative areas interfering with one another, doctors speaking loudly about personal issues in the hallway and vending machines left out of service indefinitely.  

6. Transfer to an automated system if needed.

Reduce wasted time, inefficiency and typos by moving some tasks over to automations. Patient-related forms are one example where you should make this change and patients have continued to have positive experiences with online forms.

5. Reduce system delays.

Aim to have same-day appointments for patients who call in. Do this by delaying the distribution of lab results and implement technologies that allow patients to reach nurses directly rather than waiting for someone to answer the phone.

4. Speed up your systems, but don’t rush your patients.

Doing so can lead to unnecessary frustration, noncompliance and outcome problems.

RELATED TOPIC: TOP 10: EHRs according to physicians

3. Step into your patients’ shoes.

By parking where they park or taking a tour with someone who doesn’t know the building and letting them guide, you are able to witness first hand where your infrastructure falls short and more importantly, where you can improve.

2. Let positive experiences overshadow negative ones.

You can’t be perfect at everything, but you can aim to do so. Your patients will take notice and their overall positive experience with your medical facility or organization will convince a patient to cut you slack in some areas that you may have fallen short in. 

1. Benchmark outside health care. 

One of the biggest obstacles to improving the patient experience in health care is the industry’s insular nature and the way this makes its problems self-reinforcing. In other words, health care providers and institutions compare themselves to each other – to the hospital in the next town, the surgeon in the next O.R. – and benchmark their customer service accordingly. So, it’s time to benchmark health care customer service against the best in service-intensive industries, because that’s what your patients and their loved ones will do. Every patient’s interaction with health care is judged based on expectations set by the best players in the hospitality industry, the financial services industry, and other areas where expert players have made a science of customer service.

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

#Cybersecurity
#cyberattacks
#digitaltransformation
#covid19
Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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