Patient surveys can help identify weaknesses, improve ASC performance In today’s fast-changing healthcare landscape, the financial success of an ambulatory surgery center can be directly proportional to the happiness of its patients. For this reason, many ASCs assess patient satisfaction with post-operative surveys. These important tools can help leadership identify key organizational and procedural weaknesses, and, ultimately, develop solutions and implement change. According to a 2013 study by the Medical Group Management Association, 80 percent of high-performing medical practices regularly used these surveys to monitor and improve the patient experience at their facilities. Poor satisfaction scores can be attributed to a variety of reasons.  At times, some patients feel rushed or ill-informed during their surgical journey. Others have concerns about billing and fees. In the end, all patient feedback is valuable and can help leadership improve operations and processes, but here are four examples of common patient complaints, as well as suggested solutions for preventing them: “My surgeon didn’t talk to me or my family after my procedure.” For patients, surgery is a big deal. When the surgeon doesn’t take the time to speak to the patient or the family afterwards, it leaves a lasting impression – and it’s not positive. After the procedure, the surgeon should make contact with the patient or the designated caregiver. In some cases, this step may not be practical, but every attempt should be made. To make it more convenient for the surgeon, the designated caregiver’s name should be written on the front of the chart. Staff must also provide detailed after-care instructions and answer the patient’s questions prior to discharge. Staff should also write down the surgeon’s bedside instructions in the recovery room. Many general anesthesia patients may not recall that they spoke with the doctor at all, or they may not remember what was said.  Patients should feel confident about their recovery at home, and it’s the responsibility of nurses to educate them before they are discharged. “My surgery didn’t start on time, but no one came to tell me why.” Most patients arrive at the ASC hungry and anxious. Unplanned delays exacerbate these conditions. While we may not always be able to control why surgeries are bumped, we can keep patients informed.  Patients and their families appreciate frequent updates about the status of the procedures. Good patient communication conveys that you care and that their time is valuable. “No one told me how much the surgery would cost or what portion my insurance would cover.” Never assume patients know their deductibles or co-pays. Yes, it is part of their responsibility to know the details of their insurance coverage. In the long run, however, the more patients understand what their care will cost, the more they can prepare to meet these obligations.  It’s very important they understand how their plan works, what is covered and what is not. “I felt like I was pushed out or rushed out of the recovery room.” Discharge preparation should start before the patient has surgery.  In the pre-op area, nurses should educate patients on the ASC’s pain measuring tool, the flow from phase 1 to phase 2 recovery and how long they can expect to stay in the recovery room. Recovery nurses also should communicate with patients about their progress and inform them of next steps. An example of this approach may include: “You’ve been in the recovery room for thirty minutes.  I’m going to give you some juice and a light snack now.  In about 30 minutes, I will remove your IV and we will go over the discharge instructions with your spouse.” Always take the patient’s feelings into consideration.  Don’t forget to ask them how they feel and if they are ready to go home. An example of this approach may include: “Mr. Smith, you’ve told me your pain level is a 1/10 and that that is tolerable for you.  Your vital signs have returned to baseline and you aren’t dizzy or nauseous. Since you’ve been here for an hour, you meet our discharge criteria.  Do you feel ready to go home?” In the end, the best strategy for keeping patients happy is to maintain positive interactions, never appear rushed and be conscious of your body language.  For example, limit looking at your watch when talking to patients or backing out of the room during a conversation. No matter the intent, these actions may perceived as rude. These are our customers, and it’s our responsibility to fully understand their concerns and improve their experience while under our care. For more information on patient satisfaction tools and strategies, please contact amingus@regentsurgicalhealth.com.