How to Improve Patient Experience in the Emergency Department

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Compass One Healthcare

Improving Patient Experience in the Emergency Department with the Human Touch



Healthcare is about the human touch. While automation and technology play a critical role in our ability to care for patients, without human interaction, there is a void in the healthcare process. This can be seen throughout the patient experience, including support services.

Recently Crothall Healthcare launched a pilot program at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest aimed at improving the patient experience in the Emergency Department (ED). The program was a resounding success and reinforced the need for human engagement and compassion in the healthcare process.

Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, a 981-bed comprehensive care center, is the largest hospital in the city of Allentown, Pa., and the surrounding region which is home to more than 500,000 people. The facility’s ED includes a Level 1 Trauma Center seeing an average of 90,000 patients per year.

Making sure those patients and their guests have a great experience is paramount to the success of the hospital. Prior to the pilot program, Press Ganey data did not paint a pretty picture for the ED. Two items in particular stand out:

  • Patients admitted through the ED were less satisfied across most dimensions.
  • Their dissatisfaction was most evident on the two overall questions: “rate the hospital” (in which ED patients’ average rating was 5.0 points lower than non-ED patients) and “recommend the hospital” (in which ED patients’ average rating was 7.4 points lower than non-ED patients).  

How to Improve Emergency Department Patient Experience

To directly address these concerns, we added a patient experience expert, or concierge, to the ED. This person’s role was to make sure patients and their families had everything they needed and were being served at the highest level. The concierge was able to assist patients in numerous areas and make sure the ED was presented in the best light.

  • Cleanliness—wiping down seats, removing trash, maintaining the general upkeep of the waiting room
  • Activity—provide activities for patients and family members during their wait, including coloring books or reading material
  • Wayfinding—serve as a resource for patients and families on the hospital amenities and guide them through the facility
  • Food—provide access to high quality food offerings and assist in delivering food to hungry patients and families while they wait

“Updates on wait time, some time with a phone charger, even a clean chair ends up mattering,”said Melissa Williams, Compass One Healthcare Regional Director of Patient Experience at Lehigh Valley Hospital. “Our concierge is the perfect personality to keep people feeling positive beyond fulfilling that important need.”

Results

Beyond patient satisfaction data, the concierge helped the nursing team to better manage their time and operate to the top of their license. They weren’t having to spend time on wayfinding or other issues that fall outside of nursing care, instead being able to serve as a clinical resource which improve the patient experience and speed up the ED throughput.

“The nurses especially get big benefits, just from the stress of the waiting room being removed,” said Williams. “Within a month of Crothall bringing in the concierge program, nurses were saying they had no idea how they had functioned without it.”

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There is no substitute for service and human interaction. By placing an emphasis on serving the needs of patients, whether through environmental or food service, we can make a significant impact on patient care. This can have a profound effect on outcomes as well as patient satisfaction scores.

The pilot program was a success and Lehigh Valley Hospital is looking to expand its ED by a capacity of 100 or more, and an expanded concierge staff may be an essential part of its success. Other Compass One clients are piloting the program as well.

Read more in the full case study.

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Written by: Crothall