- Transparency about health care leads to higher patient satisfaction and increased trust. In turn, increased trust leads to increased compliance with discharge instructions and follow-up care — which leads to better patient outcomes.
- Holding team members accountable ensures continuous improvement, and a culture of accountability increases staff satisfaction.
- Patient experience improvement is a vital part of any organization that is serious about offering superior service.
What It Means
Patient satisfaction and patient experience are both important, but they are two different measurements at Central Maine Healthcare. Patient satisfaction focuses on whether a patient’s expectations about a health encounter were met. Patient experience seeks to understand from patients whether something that should happen in a healthcare setting actually happened — the range of interactions patients have across the continuum of the healthcare system, including care from physicians, nurses, specialists and everyone else who works in our facilities.
At CMH, we select a random assortment of patients to complete Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys to help us gauge their experiences at CMH. The 32-item survey allows patients to rate everything from the temperature of their hospital room and the quality of their food to their communication with nurses and the amount of time physicians spent with them.
How Are We Doing?
Data from our HCAHPS survey is submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services that administers the Medicare and Medicaid program. The survey data account for 25% of CMS’s formula for calculating value-based payment to hospitals. You can compare our results here:
Bringing Perspective to the Patient Experience
Sara Kapinos, RN-V, CPXP, is a nurse and the leader of the Patient Experience team at CMH. She says her job is to look at everything through a patient’s eyes.
“If there is going to be a change — a new sign, a new practice or a new standard form for patients to sign, for example — I look at it through the patient’s side and try to see how they would see it,” Kapinos says. “I also put those things in front of our patient advisory council members and ask what they think.”
But Kapinos has taken her love of improving patient experience to another level. A former professional violinist who trained at Julliard and traveled the world playing, she has made the hospital her newest concert hall.
“A couple of years ago I was asked if I would play for patients,” Kapinos says. “One would have thought that, after being a nurse for almost 15 years, this would have come up before then, but it didn’t. But it was really amazing, bringing tremendous healing and peace to patients.”
Kapinos travels across CMH facilities to play for patients at least once a week, sometimes in a group setting and sometimes individually. She mixes classical pieces with pop covers, like Elvis.
“According to research, patients with neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and stroke have improved with regular music played at various neuro rehab facilities,” Kapinos says. “Music stimulates neural pathways and can actually help strengthen and regrow them after stroke. It’s also beneficial for decreased blood pressure, decreased heart rate and a decreased need for pain meds.”
Over the years, as Kapinos has touched the lives of patients, they have also touched hers. She recalls playing for one cancer patient who had received the news her disease was terminal.
“I had my violin that day and I got it out and played ‘Amazing Grace,’” Kapinos says. “She was so touched, and so was I. We were both in tears. She had a really strong Christian faith, but she was just ready to physically give up. And then she said, ‘I wasn’t crying because of you, it was God speaking through you and through your music, and He wants me to stay strong. You know, sometimes you can find healing when there is no cure.’ I’ll never forget that phrase. That was really motivational for me.”