2016 Q3 Simplify, Satisfy, and Succeed: Strategy for patients and educators
Simplify, Satisfy, and Succeed:
Strategy for patients and educators
By Elizabeth Nardacci, MS, FNP-BC, CDE
Every diabetes educator knows that diabetes standards of care call for individualizing each patient’s diabetes management plan, but knowing what to do isn’t the same as knowing how to do it. These concerns came to mind when Medtronic asked me to serve as guest editor of this issue of In the Know and to write about process efficiency. If you work in a factory, you maximize efficiency by standardizing each process, but in healthcare, it’s the opposite. We maximize efficiency by engaging patients and working with them to define individual goals and strategies. This improves patient satisfaction, which in turn helps ensure positive outcomes.
When I’m meeting with my patients, I always bear in mind three tactics for fostering patient engagement:
- Simplify: by utilizing technology and implementing efficient protocols and processes
- Satisfy: reduce challenges by putting patients first and maximizing care time
- Succeed: work together to achieve success and improve outcomes
Making things easy for patients not only improves patient satisfaction but can also improve efficiency in the office, which makes the healthcare provider’s life easier too! We do this at my office by ensuring patients have a positive experience from the minute they walk into the office until they leave. As diabetes educators, we often don’t think how important the office experience is to our patients. If we can minimize wait times or provide a more comfortable learning space, we change the dynamic of the visit for the better, and patients who have a good experience are more likely to return on time for their next appointment.
How do you put patients first? Start by thinking about your own experiences as a patient when you go to see your doctor. We’ve all had a bad experience at some point—an unfriendly receptionist, or a long wait after checking in, or another long, lonely wait for the the nurse or doctor to come in and see you.
Now think about other times when the staff was helpful and friendly, and your wait times were kept to a minimum. Perhaps after the bad experience you thought how you never wanted to return to that office, while after the good one, you looked forward to your next appointment. That’s why it’s important to make the environment friendly and pleasant so patients want to come back—an important factor that helps ensure the success of our healthcare practice as a business. We need to remember, if patients don’t have a good “customer” experience, they may go to another practice or look on the Internet. That’s bad for us, and it might be bad for patients too, especially those who rely on online information that may or may not apply to them.
Communication about patients’ experience in the practice is also essential for success. In our practice, we regularly conduct patient satisfaction surveys to help us determine what we’re doing right and areas where we could improve. The latest results showed that patients appreciate concrete advice from educators about their current clinical situation. Therefore, downloading data from the patient’s devices—glucose meters, continuous glucose monitors (CGM), and insulin pumps—in an efficient manner is vital to providing a pleasant and valuable experience for the patient-customer. Our office has a dedicated person who takes the patient’s technological devices as soon as he or she checks in for the appointment. This person downloads the data from each device and provides the relevant reports for the clinician and/or educator to review with the patient (you can find information on interpreting reports here). Since our office is moving to a paperless system, we review the reports on computer screens in the exam rooms and educational spaces, but we still provide the patients with printed reports. Because the provider and patient can review the patient’s current data together at this visit, it saves time for staff to follow up if there are problems. Patients feel they are getting the attention they need immediately, and that translates into effective and efficient patient care.
In today’s changing health care environment, we need to be better stewards of our time and our patients’ time, and also look at our best practices to ensure our patients are satisfied. Technology is a very important tool to help us get there, but we should never forget to put the customer – our patients – first. When we do that, we succeed with them at achieving better diabetes management.
- Why CareLink® downloads are a diabetes “vital sign.” Medtronic Diabetes. http://professional.medtronicdiabetes.com/diabetes-educators/science-art-diabetes-management-where-technology-can-and-should-fit.