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The 5-star hospital

The Ritz Carlton experiment applied to Patient Experience

Today we explain the case of the Ochsner Health System, responsible for coordinating the patient care service for more than 40 hospitals and 100 clinics and health centers in Louisiana, US.

Shawn Achor, author of the book Before Happiness, explains how he helped the leaders of the Ochsner Health System project to improve the patient experience with its Happiness Advantage Research method, whose ultimate goal is to raise patients’ happiness.

Contagious realities

According to Shawn it is necessary to instil in each and every worker of the organization one clear idea: happiness is contagious and beneficial. 

If we start from the common idea association of hospitals and disease, a correlation effect is generated: a negative association to a fact or, in this case, to a place makes us have a negative feeling about that same place. 
So, how can you make people feel more comfortable in a place that is generally associated with disease and pain?
Transforming your hospital into a Ritz-Carlton. Yes, you read that right. And yes, we know that the Ritz Carlton is a hotel chain, and the brand is admired for a5-star customer service. however, there is something else we might not be aware of. Apart from its luxury services, room quality and high prices, the hotel company adopted a customer service policy which is both simple and effective, whose objective is to make guests feel valued and always exceed their expectations. Do you want to know how they did it? Keep reading the article to find it out!

The 10/5 method

The hotel company applied the 10/5 method which consists of transforming an organization through positive interactions. This method requires to train each and every member of the organization to follow 2 rules of behavior.
  • Rule 1: Whenever an employee meets a hotel guest within a 10 step distance, the employee has to establish eye contact and smile.  
  • Rule 2: Whenever an employee meets a hotel guests within a 5 step distance, the employee has to greet the guest with a “hello”. 
That’s a very simple methodology but research has demonstrated that is has a high impact on customer satisfaction, employee retention and on the company performance. 
Following this method, the Ochsner Health System "trained" nurses, doctors, directors and administrators to adopt the 10/5 behavior policy.  The goal was not to become a luxury hospital, but to transform a ‘negative’ reality into a positive one starting from the attitude of hospital staff. With such approach, they would spread this positive attitude to the patients. 

The decision caused different kinds of reaction, particularly medical staff was extremely skeptical about the method. However, only 6 months after the implementation, results were clear. According to the studies Patients’ Perception of Hospital Care in the United States y Relationship between patient satisfaction with inpatient care and hospital readmission within 30 days smiles in a hospital and patient satisfaction contribute to a positive attitude towards recovery:

  • “We found moderately high levels of satisfaction for patient service (for example, 67.4% of hospital patients would definitely recommend the hospital), with a high correlation with the drivers of patient experience (Cronbach's alpha, 0.94) . (...) Hospitals with a high level of patient satisfaction provided clinical care that was higher in quality for every driver examined.(...)”

  • “Higher ratings for patient satisfaction, both for the overall evaluation and for the hospital discharge, were associated with lower readmission rates in the following 30 days for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia (...)”

  • “Higher overall patient satisfaction with the discharge planning is associated with lower 30-day hospital readmission rates after adjusting for clinical quality. This finding suggests that patient experience (patient-centered information) may have an important role in the evaluation of hospital performance and management.“

These studies demonstrate the importance of focusing on the patient and their needs. Waiting times can be as important as the perceptions and feelings regarding the treatment received. You want to feel calm in a hospital, without any fear and anguish. Patients need to perceive that everyone in the health center is working and doing everything possible for them, communicating openly and showing empathy. In the end dealing with patients is dealing with people.
These thoughts and feelings drive the subsequent rating that patients give about their willingness to recommend the center to a friend or relative (the famous NPS). 
The only way to improve this dynamic is to measure patient's experience through different metrics and assessments. There are different tools to measure the patient's experience  but satisfaction and quality surveys are key to identify areas for improvement and to know the patients’ opinion. Customizing the surveys and asking about what the organization really cares about is essential to make result-driven decisions. Customizing surveys and asking about what really interests the organization is essential to make decisions based on the extrapolated results obtained.

If measured, patient experience is a very reliable indicator of the value that patients assign to the health center and to determining factors such as facilities, medical treatment, nursing and administrative matters, communication and information received... That’s why it is key to understand the importance of focusing on the patient experience in order to improve the service offered and the quality perceived. 
The positive experience of the patient is the objective to be achieved, since the positive association will be transferred to other factors such as communication between patient and doctor, processes, safety , waiting times...
At RateNow we firmly believe that smiling is healthy and contagious. And if patients feel emotionally satisfied, they feel more optimistic and that attitude positively impacts their health and recovery process. Happy patients contribute to a healthy atmosphere. If such a process starts from the whole staff, then you will certainly maximize the smile in your health center.  

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