HCAHPS scores are the result of patient satisfaction surveys and account for 25 percent of a hospital’s total performance score. HCAHPS scores are directly tied to CMS reimbursement—the more satisfied patients are, the more Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement the hospital receives. The surveys were developed to encourage and incentivize hospitals to provide patients with the best healthcare experience possible.
Studies show that the empathetic treatment of patients can lead to improved adherence to medications, reduced malpractice cases, and fewer healthcare mistakes. On average, physicians showing compassion receive higher approval ratings from patients than doctors who do not. However, hospitals often overlook the significant impact hospital environmental services (EVS) workers with empathy training can have on patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores.
What Is Empathy?
According to researcher and storyteller Brené Brown, “Empathy is communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’” To elaborate on Brown’s definition, empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. It is being able to put yourself in that other person’s proverbial shoes and share the emotions s/he is experiencing. In a healthcare setting, it is recognizing and validating a patient’s fear, anxiety, pain, and concern. However, just because an individual feels empathy toward a patient does not necessarily mean the patient knows it. So a final component of empathy training for EVS hospital workers is teaching them how to convey that they understand and relate to what the patient is going through.
When Hospital EVS Teams Care
In many cases, EVS hospital workers spend more time in patients’ rooms than doctors or nurses. EVS team members are among the first to meet patients in their rooms, and often the same EVS worker will clean a patient’s room daily for his or her entire stay. Patients frequently introduce EVS workers to their visiting family and friends. Often, an EVS worker and patient will bond, and the longer a patient is in the hospital, the stronger the bond can become. Many patients find EVS workers more approachable than other hospital staff and are more likely to share fears and concerns about being in the hospital with them.
When patients reach out in this way, hospital EVS workers trained in empathy know how to respond to convey understanding and compassion. They can offer support and help ease patients’ fears and their visitors’ concerns. This additional support has been shown to help patients feel more connected and less anxious and aid the healing process. Empathetic interactions with patients also encourage them and their families and friends to view the hospital experience in a more positive light overall. The result is greater patient satisfaction, which translates into higher HCAHPS scores.
EVS hospital workers trained in empathy are focused on what they can do to help patients feel more comfortable during their stay. However, that does not mean they receive nothing in return. Many EVS healthcare workers who have received empathy training and practice it on the job report feeling they get as much—if not more—out of interacting with patients as the patients do.
Empathetic workers are friendly, and studies show friendliness, especially in the workplace, provides many benefits, including:
- Reduced stress
- Improved morale
- Greater productivity
- Enhanced mental health
- Better self-image.
EVS hospital workers who show empathy also say that thinking about someone else’s concerns allows them to forget about their own for a while and even helps them put their worries in perspective. This, in turn, leads to greater job satisfaction and reduced employee turnover.
When hospitals are contemplating strategies to improve patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores, underestimating the value of EVS hospital workers trained in empathy is a definite, and potentially costly, mistake.
Hospital Environmental Services Provider Near Me
If you are in the California area and your hospital environmental services (EVS) provider doesn’t provide workers with empathy training, it is time to discover the Servicon difference. Contact us today.