How Can Nurses Help Improve Patient Satisfaction?

The healthcare industry continues to change due to evolving technology, financial issues and the need for specialty-trained nurses. The amount of allocated reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies depends on patient satisfaction scores, and hospitals use this money to cover operating costs and other expenditures. Additionally, nursing staff shortages and the quality of care patients receive may affect patient outcomes. For these reasons, hospitals prefer to employ nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Hospital Patient Satisfaction Scores

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (HCAHPS) is a survey given to patients who are admitted to hospitals. Patients evaluate their hospital experience by filling out the national standardized survey. Some hospitals also compile their own statistics regarding patient satisfaction for internal use. The HCAHPS compiles this data on the Hospital Compare website, and consumers can then use the HCAHPS patient satisfaction scores to choose a hospital.

The survey consists of eight sections that cover nurse care, physician care, hospital environment, experience in the hospital, discharge, overall hospital rating, personal information and a written description of the patient’s stay. In the nursing care category, questions include the following:

  • Did your nurse treat you with courtesy and respect?
  • How often did nurses carefully listen to you?
  • Did nurses clearly explain your care?
  • How long did it take nurses to respond when you pushed the call button?

Other factors that determine hospital funding are clinical performance, mortality rates and how much the government paid for a patient’s care. Poor patient satisfaction ratings can negatively affect the amount of federal funding hospitals receive. The government penalizes hospitals for too many patient readmissions. They also penalize hospitals for injuries incurred and infections contracted during patient stays.

Demand for Specialty-Trained Nurses

The Clinical Magnet, a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider, along with HRO Today, a leading publisher of content for human resources executives, released a study titled HR in the ER. The HR in the ER study focuses on clinical healthcare in the U.S. and the lack of highly skilled nurses working in hospitals. The study examined human resources managers, directors and vice presidents from hospitals around the country. Almost 50 percent of hiring managers reported a decreased hospital staff because they cannot locate the professionals with the skill sets they need.

One reason this problem exists is that nurses have more job opportunities than they did in the past, such as school, travel or private nursing, which makes it harder to fill positions in operating rooms, intensive care units and emergency departments.

The study found that understaffed hospitals have adverse effects on patient care, patient satisfaction and the availability of wellness programs. If hospitals want to increase their patient occupancy numbers and continue to receive funding, they have to maintain a full and qualified nursing staff. Some hospitals avoid hiring new nursing graduates in favor of experienced nurses, since new nurses need more training and supervision, which can be costly. Additionally, many hospitals prefer employing nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

What Do Nurses Gain by Earning a BSN?

All nurses, regardless of their level of education, have the training to provide care. The IOM recommended that all nurses earn a BSN by 2020 because nurses with more education cope better with the complexities of modern medical care and the changing hospital system.

Nurses with a BSN know how to think critically, adapt to changing circumstances and solve problems. According to the article RN to BSN? Yes, You Can! Dispelling the Myths; Discovering the Facts, published by the National Student Nurses Association, the benefits of earning a BSN include clearly defined roles; increased confidence, professionalism and respect; improved personal contentment, and a better understanding of management policies.

Nurses and Patient Satisfaction

The relationship between a nurse and a patient affects the patient’s experience in the hospital. Therefore, a nurse must be attentive and communicate well with the patient and other healthcare professionals to ensure optimal care. Nurses should check up on patients with hourly rounding, set goals and uphold accountability.

Nurse can improve patient satisfaction scores by doing the following:

  • Showing empathy.
  • Listening attentively.
  • Communicating effectively with patients and other healthcare professionals.
  • Explaining conditions, medications and treatments in an easy-to-understand way.

How Hospitals Are Boosting Patient Satisfaction?

At Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury N.C., patient satisfaction is a priority. Nurses now spend 70 percent of their time checking on patients. They also make an effort to learn some personal details about each patient. Do they have pets? What are their hobbies? Rowan staff also regularly review patient surveys to address complaints and pinpoint ways to correct problems.

The surgical center at Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C, which is part of the Novant Healthcare System, conducts conferences at several of their hospitals for patients who are scheduled for surgery. Nurses are on hand to answer questions and alleviate patients’ anxiety about surgery.

Overall, patients want a soothing, comfortable hospital stay while being treated with compassion. They also want complete disclosure about their care. Hospitals cannot afford to ignore the link between patient satisfaction scores and hospital funding if they want to meet their financial obligations. Hospitals must be diligent in recruiting and employing a qualified nursing staff so they can maintain a high occupancy rate and provide the type of care patients expect.

Learn more about the CSUSM online RN to BSN program.


Retrieved from Clinical Magnet (2016, January 19). HRO Today Release Study Examining Impact of HR on Hospital Revenue, Occupancy Rates and Patient Care. PR Newswire: Clinical Magnet, HRO Today Release Study Examining Impact of HR on Hospital Revenue, Occupancy Rates and Patient Care

Retrieved from Leonard, T., & Bradford, W. (2009, January). RN to BSN? Yes, You Can! Dispelling the Myths; Discovering the Facts. National Student Nurses’ Association: RN to BSN? Yes, You Can! Dispelling the Myths; Discovering the Facts

Retrieved from Patient Satisfaction that Works. (n.d.). Baylor Scott & White Health: Patient Satisfaction What Works

Retrieved from Rau, J. (2015, March 10). Hundreds of Hospitals Struggle to Improve Patient Satisfaction. Kaiser Health News: Hundreds of Hospitals Struggle to Improve Patient Satisfaction

Retrieved from Rubenfire, A. (2015, August 29). Help wanted in hiring RNs: Hospitals outsource recruitment of permanent nurses with hard-to-find skills. Modern Healthcare: Help Wanted in Hiring Rns: Hospitals Outsource Recruitment of Permanent Nurses with Hard-to-find Skills

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