From script to conversation: Making patient rounding personal

Today’s patients don’t just want to be cured; they want to feel cared for during their hospital stay. And with reimbursement linked to patient satisfaction, it’s crucial for hospitals to take a more proactive approach to delivering an excellent experience.

It’s simply not enough to find out about a negative response to a survey question after a patient has gone home and the issue is reflected in poor HCAHPS scores. Improving the care experience requires a sophisticated, real-time understanding of patients’ perceptions and emotional reactions to every process and stage of the inpatient stay.

One way to gauge and improve the patient experience is through rounding. In the best situations, patient rounds drive quality patient-provider relationships, improve patient safety, and allow nurses to assess and fulfill patient needs during the encounter.

Are digital rounding tools the answer?

Today, more and more health systems are adopting digital patient rounding tools to replace the old paper-based rounding process. While these digital tools certainly hold the promise of improving rounding efficiency, not all tools are created equal.

With most rounding tools, nurses must choose which items to round on that particular day. Many solutions offer the ability to track and chart responses to multiple choice or yes-no questions captured during rounding. The drawback of these approaches is that the nurse rather than the patient drives the conversation.

Effective rounding (paper-based or digital) involves more than checking a box, gathering data and making a rote visit at certain intervals. To be successful, rounding must be a conversation that engages the patient and builds trust. By letting patients drive the conversation, they feel cared for, not managed. Further, an open-ended conversation will usually yield qualitative insights that offer real-time opportunities to address any concerns or issues. This is far more valuable than running through predetermined, scripted questions, which can feel like an interrogation for the patient and an exercise in checklist compliance for the nurse.

Engaging patients in a rounding conversation

With a solution like GetWell Inpatient, hospitals can ask patient experience questions through the platform. That information flows into GetWell Rounds+, an integrated patient rounding solution on a nurse’s tablet, providing a real-time pulse on a patient’s experience. The nurse can now go into a patient’s room with a full view of a patient’s responses to questions and can prepare for the rounding conversation. How much richer is the experience for both the nurse and the patient compared to following a list of questions?

A robust rounding tool should offer alerts and escalations to enable a prioritized response. That way a problem can be investigated or resolved before the nurse rounds on the patient. When the nurse enters the room, the patient can be reassured that everyone is working together to provide the best care possible. The data also allows hospitals to determine whether a problem is an isolated incident or a trend, and pinpoint the issue down to the user, unit and facility level.

One hospital, for example, was working on improving quiet at night. They had created various programs to help minimize noise. Despite interventions, scores were not improving. GetWellNetwork was engaged to assist in identifying the problem and support a resolution. Leveraging the qualitative patient feedback collected within the GetWellNetwork solutions, the hospital discovered the problem had nothing to do with noise level; many activities continue throughout the night including phlebotomy services, hourly rounding, vital sign checks and more. Frequent interruptions at night by various members of the healthcare team was the primary reason for poor patient perception. As a result of this revelation, the hospital conducted best practice research and created an effective performance improvement plan resulting in a rise in HCAHPS scores for this domain.

Rounding shouldn’t stop once the patient leaves the hospital

For success under value-based care, hospitals must ensure patients understand their discharge instructions, are taking their medications as prescribed and following up with their physicians. A comprehensive rounding solution should provide the opportunity to record discharge instructions and facilitate discharge calls to continue those important conversations once a patient goes home.

Strengthening the nurse-patient relationship

There is no better way to find out if you are providing the best quality of care and patient experience than by engaging patients in a conversation during the hospital stay and after discharge. Whether the conversation covers nurse communication, medication teaching, noise level or discharge instructions, a patient rounding tool should enable nurses to capture the entire conversation and gain immediate insights.

Those open-ended conversations ensure each patient receives a personalized healthcare experience. For staff, these one-on-one exchanges connect nurses and leadership back to the joy of healthcare.