As a registered nurse, I am aware of the importance of making patients feel comfortable and well cared for. We all know how important patient satisfaction is to our hospital administrators and the federal government. But while we focus heavily on being in the top percentile on patient satisfaction metrics, I think we sometimes lose sight of who and what is at the other end of those numbers…until the "who" is us.
For me, a much-awaited scuba diving vacation in Indonesia turned into an eye-opening experience. Let's skip the gory details and just say that I ended up in Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore with a bacterial infection. The hospital could have been anywhere in the United States — and in fact was nicer and more modern than many I have visited across our country.
On the wall in the lobby was a large framed poster with many signatures on it that stated:
So how did this translate into my care?
- I was a direct admit to the hospital, and the gastroenterologist on call was waiting for me when I arrived. He provided all of my care throughout my hospitalization, so no handoffs between doctors were ever required.
- Pain medications were provided intramuscularly so that they would last longer and to prevent me from becoming confused or disoriented.
- My husband was made comfortable on the couch in my room with a blanket, pillow and shower towels for my entire three-day hospitalization. He was never asked to leave the room or the hospital throughout my care.
- The door to my room was kept closed so that I was not disturbed by noises in the hallway or from other patient rooms.
- The transporter had an elevator key so that we never had to wait when going to and from diagnostics tests, which was important in this very busy hospital where elevator space was at a premium.
- A printed copy of my lab results were handed to me the day after my admission.
- A nurse always accompanied the doctor into the room so that he/she knew what the plan of care was going to be.
- The bathrooms were stocked with hotel amenities — soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, comb and brush. This hospital used Crabtree and Evelyn products.
- The housekeeper handed me a card each day after cleaning my room that stated: Your room has just been cleaned. Here's wishing you a speedy recovery and good health always.
- At discharge, a pharmacist brought my discharge medications (not prescriptions) to my hospital room and reviewed all of the medications with me.
- Copies of my CT scan films were given to me to take home. Unfortunately, these were not digital.
What would have made my experience even better?
- Only one staff member (Helen) introduced herself. She was the lovely dietary worker who came to my room several times each day with food and always checked to be sure that I had what I needed. It is difficult as a patient not to know who you are talking to, who is sticking you with a needle, who is handing you medications to take and who is whisking you off in a wheelchair to who knows where.
- While the room was modern and clean, there was no artwork on the walls. The only thing to look at was a huge flat screen TV (not complaining about that!). On the positive side, there were also no signs in the room, except a staff reminder above the head of the bed about fall precautions.
The attention to patient care I experienced in Singapore reminded me that in this era of HCAHPS and value-based purchasing, we need to remember why we all chose to work in healthcare in the first place: to help patients. I was very impressed with the care I received in Singapore and interested in how similar our issues and concerns in the delivery of healthcare seem to be around the world.