(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / 4774344sean)(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / 4774344sean)

Patient satisfaction a top priority for Chatham-Kent hospitals

The patient experience is top of mind for board members on the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) and the facility is showing big improvements.

At an informal meeting with members of the local media Friday, the CKHA board said there are two factors of patient satisfaction the board is focusing on -- the care patients received and the hospital overall.

"It's an area where we are consistently seeing an increase in scores," CKHA CEO Lori Marshall said. "For the first time, we scored better than average. Our target though is to be in the top quartile so we still have work to do."

Marshall added 56.8 per cent of patients who responded to the survey rated the CKHA a nine or 10 out of 10 and the facility saw a 2.3 per cent improvement in patient satisfaction in medicine and surgery departments.

The CEO said working on improving staff satisfaction was key as well. She added there is a direct correlation between the staff being happy and patients being satisfied.

"Staff who are feeling good about their work and work environment translates into a positive patient experience," Marshall said. "That one is increasing as well and we want to be near the top of the province in that category."

Medication reconciliation on discharge was another focus for the CHKA. The goal is that when a patient leaves the hospital, someone has looked at what medication they leave with and what they were on previously. Marshall said patients need to be informed of what medication to take and what to stop taking, adding the process is very important for patient safety. She said staff also need to pass the information on to the patient's primary healthcare provider or to another hospital if they are moving.

"The highest time of risk for a patient is when they are transferred between providers," Marshall said. "Whether you are going from a hospital to another facility, hospital to home or from another facility into a hospital that's when if you don't have things like common electronic health records and common policies and practices that things can fall through the cracks. By measuring medication reconciliation on discharge we are really measuring the safety of a transition."

The last two topics the board focused on were the time it takes for a patient to get to a bed once admitted and on a separate note, workplace violence. Marshall said the CKHA's target is to increase the number of reported workplace violence incidents, which may sound counterintuitive at first.

"It's because we want to increase reporting," Marshall said. "It isn't that we want to see an increase in incidents of workplace violence. What we recognize is in health care overall is that this is likely underreported. It is one of those cultural things in that past that staff, physicians and volunteers have essentially accepted it as being part of their job. We want to change that culture."

As for improving the time it takes for someone to be transferred to an inpatient bed, the facility is looking at factors like how quickly staff can get housekeeping to clean the bed, how well they are adhering to 11 a.m. discharge times and the efficiency of transfer of information. Marshall said it is very important to make sure patient information is transferred properly.

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