A misguided attempt to improve healthcare has led some hospitals to focus on making people happy, rather than making them well.
Patient surveys won’t drastically and directly improve healthcare. But research has shown that hiring more nurses, and treating them well, can accomplish just that. It turns out that nurses are the key to patient satisfaction after all—but not in the way that hospitals have interpreted.
In Massachusetts, a medical/surgical nurse told The Boston Globe that the scripting made her feel like a “Stepford nurse,” and wondered whether patients would notice that their nurses used identical phrasing. She’s right to be concerned. Great nurses are warm, funny, personal, or genuine—and requiring memorized scripts places a needless obstacle in their path.
The concept of “patient experience” has mischaracterized patients as customers and nurses as automatons. Some hospital job postings advertise that they are looking for nurses with “good customer-service skills” as their first qualification. University of Toledo Medical Center evaluates staff members on “customer satisfaction.”
Doctors who are reimbursed according to patient satisfaction scores may be less inclined to talk patients out of treatments they request or to raise concerns about smoking, substance abuse, or mental-health issues.
Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
~Martin Luther King Jr.