Healthcare leaders wondering how to improve HCAHPS scores can look to environmental services (EVS) as an important area of focus. An engaged EVS staff that knows that providing cleanliness efforts patients appreciate should drive strategies for improving HCAHPS scores.
Prioritize Environmental Services, Pay Attention to Meal Trays
On HCAHPS, patients are asked, “During this hospital stay, how often were your room and bathroom kept clean?” As the department responsible for cleaning patient rooms and bathrooms, environmental services excellence is critical to improving HCAHPS scores. Human reactions to any event are a combination of real and perceived signals; patient reaction to room cleanliness is no different. While clinical cleanliness should always be a focus, adding a UV-C bathroom treatment in an occupied patient room is one creative way to improve HCAHPS scores.
Likewise, patients often cite meal trays as a factor in questionnaires related to HCAHPS scores. This occurs, for example, when a patient notices a dirty breakfast tray left in the room until lunchtime. By aligning foodservice and environmental services, frontline associates can keep rooms tidy and positively impact HCAHPS scores.
Discuss Goals While Addressing Associate Stress and Engagement
Environmental services team huddles provide an ongoing opportunity to discuss HCAHPS improvement goals. During these quick meetings, team leads can recap recent HCAHPS trends with their team and reiterate the focus areas of improvement for the future. Improving HCAHPS scores can be accomplished in part by repeatedly discussing goals and the strategies the team will implement to achieve them. Team meetings also provide a space to address associate stress; hospitals can be stressful places to work. Left unaddressed, Healthcare workers’ mental health and, consequently, engagement takes a toll. Though not directly tied to cleanliness, supporting all healthcare staff (clinical and nonclinical) with training and stress management resources improves associate health and satisfaction. Each contributes to associates’ willingness to deliver high-quality care. Engagement not only boosts productivity but also enhances the quality of work. Patients can see that difference.
Put an Even Greater Emphasis on Cleanliness in Times of Crisis
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of cleanliness all too clear. Pandemic scenarios call for additional scripting to improve the perception and definition of clean.
Hospitals and their associates require different technologies, products, and protocols that augment both the perception and reality of cleanliness. For example, sanitation should expand beyond patient rooms and clinical areas, to include common areas. Innovative devices like electrostatic applications and air purification systems can also effectively improve cleanliness while improving HCAHPS scores.
Make Patient Experience Part of the Culture
Ingraining patient experience into organizational culture is a crucial piece of improving HCAHPS. Hospital leadership can help spearhead a cultural shift and model behavior for associates across every department and organization level. Strategies to foster a culture that prioritizes the patient experience include:
- Making patient-centered care a requirement for new associates.
- Evaluating associates on patient interactions.
- Implementing patient satisfaction training.
Fostering deep ties to a caring mission and improving HCAHPS scores are inseparable. Inspiration derived from a patient-focused purpose propels associates to carefully consider their actions, even for the most mundane tasks (like removing a dirty breakfast tray) in a way that enhances patient experience.
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