Patient satisfaction is becoming even more of a focus for home health organizations under the home health value-based purchasing model (HHVBP), which is set to roll out to all 50 states on January 1, 2023. With 30 percent of agencies’ overall quality scores based on their Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) scores, low patient satisfaction means a drop in reimbursement—and referrals.
If your agency needs to improve patient satisfaction, implementing tried-and-true customer service standards is an effective way to achieve high levels of patient satisfaction. Here are three customer service strategies we recommend agencies begin implementing now to improve patient satisfaction and better prepare for the transition to HHVBP.
Establish Good Patient Rapport
Patient rapport is the level of communication, collaboration, and trust between patients and providers. Good rapport has been shown to improve not just patient satisfaction but also patient compliance and clinical outcomes.1 To establish effective rapport with patients, apply the following four-pronged customer service strategy that focuses on the patient’s needs, wants, emotions, and stereotypes.
It’s important to get on the same page with patients regarding their treatment needs. First, try to identify whether patients understand their condition and buy into their treatment plan. For example, a patient might not understand why a certain medication has been prescribed.
When a patient’s treatment plan conflicts with his or her wants, resistance can result. Practice reflective listening to mitigate a patient’s frustration and help them feel understood. Then, explain how following their treatment plan will help the patient get back to what they want to do more safely. For example, you might explain to a patient that her breathing will improve, enhancing her function, if she takes her albuterol as prescribed.
Patients who are home-bound with an injury, chronic condition, or a recent hospitalization might experience grief, sadness, fear, anger, or frustration at times. If this is the case, you can use strategies such as mindfulness and empathy to help them feel more supported. Here are some examples of things to say:
Statement of empathy: “This is really difficult.” Or “I’m sorry—this is upsetting.”
Statement of validation: “This is a challenging situation for many patients.” Or “You have every reason to be upset.”
Question: “How can I help?” Or “Do you need a moment, or is there more information I could provide?”
Work with Stereotypes
Identify any stereotypes that patients might have coming into treatment—for example, fear of a certain procedure or skepticism that a home health plan of care will be beneficial. Work to reduce negative stereotypes and build on positive ones by listening with empathy to patient concerns and providing evidence-based information about their treatment.
Practice Effective Complaint Management and Conflict Resolution
Complaint management and conflict resolution are two essential aspects of good customer service that are highly effective in a home health environment. Train staff on best practices, such as staying objective, practicing reflective listening, using positive language, and providing solutions and timelines.
Create a Convenient, Patient-Centered Environment
Ensure that the care your patients receive is simple to initiate, navigate, and access from the beginning, and work to implement good customer service practices across your organization, from office staff to clinicians. Let patients and their families know you’re on their side by making it easier for them to get started receiving the care they need with the following approaches:
- Create an interactive admission folder review experience by engaging the patient and their family members to help them understand why home health is important, what types of care will be provided, who will provide that care, and how to escalate any concerns.
- Improve access to high-quality care with patient-friendly education, exercises, and online communication tools for use between in-person visits.
- Automate communication and reminders to help patients keep track of upcoming home visits, including what to expect and how to prepare.
How MedBridge Can Help
To prepare for the full rollout of HHVBP in 2023, home health organizations must act quickly and strategically to begin improving quality and performance in key assessment areas, such as patient satisfaction. Optimizing assessment scores—like HHCAHPS—will be critical, as these will directly impact reimbursement amounts in 2025 and result in significant revenue benefits or losses for agencies.
The MedBridge Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Solution helps agencies optimize reimbursements and drive better outcomes with high-quality staff education and patient engagement resources that improve OASIS accuracy, boost patient satisfaction and HHCAHPS scores, and reduce readmissions. Our solution includes:
HHCAHPS Survey Course
Your Journey to Enhance Your Patients’ Experience
Customer Service Series for Office Staff
Customer Service in a Healthcare Setting
Complaint Management in the Healthcare Setting
Conflict Resolution in the Healthcare Setting
Emotional Intelligence Strategies for Improved Customer Service
Customer Service Series for Clinicians
Customer Service for Patient Engagement
Managing Patient Complaints
Resolving Patient Conflicts
Emotional Intelligence Strategies for Improved Patient Satisfaction
Patient Engagement Tools
Build easy-to-use, customizable home exercise programs that patients can easily access in a variety of formats, including print, online, and mobile.
Help patients quickly and comprehensively understand their diagnosis and rehabilitation plan with engaging education.
Telehealth Virtual Visits
Improve access to care and enhance communication between visits with our effective, user-friendly telehealth tool, integrated with MedBridge HEP and patient engagement tools.
Patient Mobile App
Keep patients engaged in their care plans with home exercises in easy-to-follow, achievable daily doses along with automatic reminders, progress tracking, and in-app messaging.
Patient Adherence Tracking
Identify behavioral patterns and barriers to adherence to help boost patient satisfaction and improve clinical outcomes.