According to The Patient Empathy Project, a study conducted by Colleen Sweeney, RN, the most common fears of patients in hospitals and other healthcare settings are:
- Rude doctors and nurses
- Communication issues
While interestingly infection tops the list—outranking even death—it is not completely surprising. The CDC reports healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year. Statistics such as these highlight the importance of hospital environmental services (EVS) workers and their role in infection prevention.
However, a closer review of the list brings other truths about the power of EVS to light: With the proper empathy training, healthcare EVS workers can help allay several top patient fears, thereby having a significant positive impact on overall patient satisfaction.
Let’s look at the effect EVS can have on other fears on the list.
EVS healthcare staff are on the front line of infection prevention and germ removal. However, patient fears are not always rational. The fact that a hospital room has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected may do little to alleviate a patient’s concerns. This anxiety is especially prevalent since the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taught us that just because something looks clean does not mean it is (i.e., there is a difference between cleaning for appearance vs. cleaning for health).
Consider this scenario: When a healthcare EVS worker with empathy training enters a patient’s room, after a cheerful greeting, the worker explains that s/he is there to make sure the room is spotless and to disinfect it thoroughly. As the EVS technician works, s/he mentions how important this goal is, explaining that assuring patient safety is the reason for his/her career choice. If the patient seems open to conversation, the technician might explain what s/he is doing and why—such as waiting for the proper dwell time to ensure that surfaces are truly disinfected. This simple, straightforward communication can instill confidence that the EVS department is competent and, by extension, the hospital as a whole. Workers who receive training in appropriate patient interaction are also better equipped to explain how a healthy, clean environment can assist the healing process to patients who ask them to skip cleaning the room.
Can We Talk?
EVS healthcare workers often spend more time in patients’ rooms than doctors or nurses. And not all patients feel comfortable talking with the medical staff. Meanwhile, many people lack a family or—as during the COVID-19 pandemic—family and friends are not permitted to visit. Feeling alone and nervous, patients often seek out someone they feel comfortable confiding in, and more often than you might imagine, this is an EVS worker. Studies show having someone to talk to during stressful times can help alleviate anxiety and depression and encourage healing, which can positively impact a patient’s prognosis.
EVS can help alleviate some of patients’ other main concerns: By providing quality infection prevention, the EVS team reduces the risk of patients contracting HAIs, which can significantly lengthen patients’ hospital stays — in fact, by as many as 8.2 to 12.6 days, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The result is fewer HAI-associated deaths. Additionally, shorter healthcare stays can significantly reduce patients’ costs.
Meanwhile, studies show that empathy provides patients with additional health and cost benefits, including improved adherence to treatment recommendations, fewer malpractice claims, and better clinical outcomes, all of which culminate in greater patient satisfaction and higher HCAHPS scores.
Numbers don’t lie. A healthcare EVS team trained in patient empathy pays off in countless ways.
EVS Healthcare Near Me
If you are looking for a healthcare EVS team with extensive patient empathy training, we encourage you to discover the Servicon difference. Contact us for more information.
Is a career in EVS right for you? Find out more about opportunities in EVS for hospitals with the Servicon team at servicon.com/careers.