A new report shows that the best practices for creating a patient-centered culture in your clinic healthcare include things like having a positive and collaborative workplace, establishing open communication and transparency in departments, and regularly analyzing data to identify areas of improvement. A patient-centered care culture is one where patients are put first at all times. Clinicians focus on the needs of their patients above everything else. Patients are treated with respect, dignity, and empathy from check-in to check-out. This sort of values-based care culture is much more than just nice words and phrases on posters or websites. It’s about behavior. Creating a patient-centered culture requires work from every staff member so that it becomes second nature when interacting with patients.
Today’s healthcare landscape is marked by constant change and pressure. Clinics are being asked to do more with less while simultaneously striving to meet the needs of increasingly tech-savvy patients. To achieve this balance, many practices are shifting their focus from operating as businesses to serving as centers of care that cater to patients’ needs. Of course, all of these practices must be in compliance with HIPAA. Such a shift requires a new mindset, which starts with creating a patient-centered culture. Creating such a culture does not happen overnight, but there are many things that you can do to begin the process sooner rather than later. Here are seven ways you can build a patient-centered culture in your clinic:
1: Make Patient Care your Priority.
When a culture of patient-centered care is ingrained in your clinic, this will be reflected in how clinicians coordinate care with patients in many small ways. There will be no “we came first” mentality. When a patient is in the waiting room, clinicians will be mindful of the time spent so that the patient isn’t kept waiting too long. If a patient has a disability and is struggling to navigate the clinic environment, clinicians will be ready and willing to help. When there is a backlog in the lab and a patient needs their results, clinicians will work to push things along so that the patient doesn’t have to wait too long. These are all examples of how a culture of patient care looks in practice.
2: Establish a Culture of Transparency.
If the business practices of your clinic are shrouded in secrecy, it could be a red flag that you aren’t being completely transparent with patients. When patients are asked to provide information, such as blood work reports, X-rays, or lab results, they should be able to easily access them online on cloud-based platforms like Hucu AI. They should be informed of the charges for their visit and any tests they are asked to be a part of. When you are accepting new patients, they should be informed of what the process looks like and how long they should expect to wait before being seen by a provider. When you have a culture of transparency, patients feel like they are being treated as partners in their healthcare. They feel empowered and involved in their own care because they have access to the information that they need to make good decisions.
3: Create Physical and Digital Spaces for Patients.
One thing that patients often lack in traditional healthcare environments is a sense of belonging. There is no place for them to express themselves and receive feedback. There may be some literature on the walls of the clinic that attempts to educate patients, but it’s not the same as having a ready network of support. You can create both physical and digital spaces for patients in your clinic that foster a sense of community. Start or host regular support groups for patients. This can be in person or HIPAA Secure Video Conference or Secure Text Messaging, depending on what suits the needs of your community best.
4: Train your Staff to be Empathetic.
Empathy is a skill that requires ongoing training. It can’t be something that you expect your staff to “just know.” Even if clinicians have years of experience in healthcare, they need to be regularly reminded of the importance of putting their patients first. Periodic reminders that healthcare providers see situations repeatedly while it is often the patient’s first experience with a challenge. Empathy can mean different things to different people, but it boils down to this: Understanding someone else’s perspective and what they might be feeling, and then reacting in a way that respects their feelings. There are many ways to train your staff to be empathetic. You could start with simple icebreakers at the start of staff meetings. Alternatively, you could incorporate empathy-building exercises into your staff training sessions to remind people to bring “beginners’ eyes” to their communication.
5: Foster Collaboration and Cooperation.
A patient-centered culture shouldn’t just be about clinicians making patients feel like they are being coddled and treated to homemade cookies whenever they visit. It should be about fostering collaboration and cooperation between clinicians, patients, and staff members. To foster a culture of cooperation among clinicians, you need to ensure that everyone on your team is treating patients with respect, following protocols, and communicating effectively as per HIPAA Compliance. To foster collaboration and cooperation between patients and staff members, you need to regularly encourage communication. Patients, clinicians, and staff all need a space to talk about what is working and what could be improved in the clinic.
6: Hold Regular Clinic Meetings.
Your clinic should be regularly holding meetings to discuss the state of the business. These meetings should be led by the leadership team and all relevant departments should be represented. There are many different types of meetings that you could be held at your clinic. You could hold quarterly or monthly meetings, or you could hold “stand-up meetings,” where everyone simply stands up while discussing what they are working on and how they could be improving.
7: Implement regular feedback loops.
Beyond holding regular meetings, there are other ways to collect feedback from patients and clinicians in your clinic. For example, you could implement a patient satisfaction survey after every visit. You could ask for feedback from patients in person or via email. You could survey your staff and ask them what could be improved and how they could be better supported. You could also use data to identify areas of improvement. For example, you could identify volume trends so that you can identify times and days of the week when things are busier than normal and you need to be prepared.
Are you tired of hearing about the importance of creating a patient-centered culture in your healthcare organization? Do you think it’s just another buzzword that won’t have any real impact on your day-to-day operations as an administrator or clinician? If so, you’re not alone. There has been a lot of discussion about the importance of putting patients first when it comes to designing and implementing processes at healthcare organizations across the country. But many leaders are still struggling with how to make this happen in their own departments and units. A patient-centered culture will have a positive impact on your practice. If you commit to improving communication within your team and with your patients, you can continuously reinforce a patient-centered practice. It can help improve patient retention, lead to better employee satisfaction, and even make your team more successful at meeting quality measures and other performance indicators.