‘Satisfied’ (With My Care)

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by Nicole Kohr |

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If you’ve ever been hospitalized, you likely received a survey upon discharge that asked, “Were you satisfied with your care?”

Patient satisfaction is important because it helps hospital staff produce patient data, create new initiatives, and enhance transparency. I’ve been to many hospitals over the course of my career as a chronically ill patient. Following are some things that left me feeling satisfied with my care.

Responsiveness and accuracy

In March 2019, my cystic fibrosis care team at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) in New Jersey transported me to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for my bilateral lung transplant evaluation. At the very least, I expected my new nurse to ask for my entire medical history, followed by several routine questions. Instead, everyone in the unit knew my name and could rattle off my most recent medical history. I felt welcome, calm, and confident, which greatly contributed to my satisfaction as a patient.

There have also been times when the results of my bloodwork had red flags. I’d panic, knowing that wonky results can foreshadow a decline in lung function. A follow-up message from my clinic reassuring me that it’s nothing to worry about always made me feel better.

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When my team goes above and beyond

Two of my pulmonologists at RWJ met me at Starbucks while I was suffering from shortness of breath in 2019. Mom and I had been checking my pulse oximeter throughout the day. Despite the seemingly stable oxygen stats, I knew something was wrong with my lungs. My mom texted one of the doctors and asked if we should go to the emergency room. My doctor replied, “Yes,” and arranged a meeting at the hospital’s Starbucks to avoid the germy emergency room.

Not only were these accommodations above and beyond her call of duty, but her willingness to provide her cellphone number made communication easier.

When strangers go above and beyond

If you ask any staff member at Duke University Hospital where your clinic is located, they can tell you. They’re happy to assist no matter what role they play.

Easy communication

Not all doctors exchange phone numbers with their patients. That trust and rapport is built over time. However, it did alleviate some stress when I was too ill to call the front desk. Portals, which are secure online websites, on the other hand, have come a long way. Monitoring my own test results gives me a feeling of control.

Accommodations

The appointment itself isn’t the only stressful part of going to the clinic. I need a ride to the clinic. Then, I need to pay for a parking spot that I can’t find. My co-payment is due before the appointment, and sometimes I forget to fill out my portal paperwork. Alleviating these worries is helpful and improves patient satisfaction.

Some clinics allow me to pay through the portal after my appointment. They send text message reminders, and an army of valet attendants help me park my car for free. Some facilities also offer things to the caregivers. We’ve had social workers offer my mom or my husband meal vouchers, coupons, a comfier chair, or parking at a reduced fee.

Tech savviness

Tech savviness breeds confidence. It tells me, the patient, that the medical professional is up to date with the latest technology. This can also imply that they have satisfied customers turned donors — enough to afford high-end equipment.

The opportunity to represent

I like being offered opportunities to be a part of my clinic’s community. I’ve given speeches, emailed pictures for brochures, and attended webinars. Group emails about the latest events bridge the gap between the clinical environment and getting to know the humans that I see on a weekly or monthly basis.

Environment and themed decor

Walking into a cramped room with dozens of coughing patients is never comforting, especially if like me, you’re immune-suppressed. Wide, open hallways are reassuring. Wall color and decor also make a huge difference. Paw prints on the ceiling and happy blue walls are less threatening than beige walls.

Taking part in shift changes

Being present at my nurses’ shift change meeting gives me a feeling of control. I can fill in the gaps in communication instead of playing telephone. When I’d been NPO (nothing by mouth) for two days and was suffering from low blood pressure, my nurse intervened.

The song “Satisfied” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation “Hamilton” follows the historical figure Angelica Schuyler through a roller coaster of emotions. She suppresses her feelings for Alexander Hamilton and says that she will never be satisfied.

In the words of my mother, “Cleanliness and friendliness make a big difference.” I’m always satisfied with my care, but I’m impressed by how many initiatives have been put in place by my clinics based on patient satisfaction. That reminds me — I should text my pharmacist.

Check back every Thursday to read more of my story.

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Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

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