Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D. Blog

Thoughts and ideas on healthcare

Hi, and welcome to my blog! I'm Susan E. Mazer -- a knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience. Topics I write about include safety, satisfaction, hospital noise, nursing, care at the bedside, and much more. Subscribe below to get email notices so you won't miss any great content.

We Need More Than Policies and Procedures To Improve the Patient Experience

April 12, 2018

Nurse with PatientIt is understandable that the healthcare industry seeks to organize the patient experience by using policies and procedures that support the goals of providing optimal care for patients and families.

Clearly, this effort makes the patient experience more predictable and easier to manage.

Patients Can Only Tolerate So Many Organizational Demands

Policies and procedures are put in place and made public to formally set out what healthcare organizations intend to do and the means by which they will carry out their stated objectives. This should result in higher quality, increased safety, and improved patient satisfaction.

The problem is, however, that patients are human beings and can tolerate only so many organizational demands. They are not trying to be predictable and do not want to be generic in the eyes and ears of those who care for them.

Well-crafted policies and procedures that address the patient experience are necessary, but insufficient on their own.

None of them work all the time, with every patient, at each interaction.  And even the protocols that kick in when the unexpected happens require ingenuity and skill to successfully manage the changing circumstances — some of which may be life-threatening.

The Patient Experience is a Human Experience

The patient experience is defined by relationships — the events that highlight the quality of the human connection, and the ways in which expectations are formed and fulfilled.  Nurses’ caregiving skills are both tested and demonstrated when things don’t happen “as expected.”

The intimacy of human caring — compassion, empathy, kindness is not about a policy or procedure. It is about how the humanity of one person connects to that of another.

Creating an Environment for Nurse-Patient Connection

One way to enhance the human connection between caregiver and patient is to improve the environment of care.  And there are many tools to do this, including providing access to sunlight and nature through building design and mitigating noise by using sound absorbing materials. Music is another powerful tool; one with proven therapeutic benefits.

For these reasons, even though The C.A.R.E. Channel nature video and instrumental music can be delivered as a television program, it actually serves as an environmental intervention that soothes fear and anxiety, masks noise, and creates a calm place where authentic connections between nurses and patients become possible.

Policies and procedures are necessary in healthcare. But the complexity of the patient experience demands more.

Healthcare professionals need to keep asking themselves, “How can we do better?”

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