6 Ways Hospitals Can Foster a Culture of Compassion and Empathy

Enhanced communications, increased accessibility, and improved discharge processes are some ways hospitals can show empathy and subsequently improve safety.

6 Ways Hospitals Can Foster a Culture of Compassion and Empathy

Photo: Nicola, Adobe Stock

Hospitals care for patients during their most vulnerable moments. Patients and their families are often anxious, scared, exhausted, and uncertain at different points during the care process. Because of this, compassion and empathy are almost as important as medical skills and knowledge in creating optimal patient outcomes. They are also critical to improving patient satisfaction, staff morale, and overall safety.

In addition to hiring skilled providers who have an excellent “bedside manner,” one of the best ways to create a culture that prioritizes compassion and empathy in a hospital setting — and therefore improves safety — is to upgrade the campus facilities in a way that supports these values.

Here are some improvements that can help hospital campuses provide a better experience for both patients and staff.

Create a Welcoming Environment for All

Patients should feel welcome from the very first moment they walk in the door. Aesthetics matter, so it’s important to ensure that the décor is comfortable and welcoming. Adding some art, plants, and other touches to public areas and patient rooms can make the environment feel warmer and more compassionate. A little personality and a few amenities, such as providing entertainment infrastructure or better meal options that cater to different diets, can go a long way.

Having someone available to greet patients and family members will help them feel supported and help them find what they’re looking for more quickly. If parking can be challenging near the building, a free valet service can also ease stress for patients and their support system. Having people stationed and ready to help can also improve security, as visitors and patients can then be screened appropriately.

Enhance and Emphasize Communication

Misunderstandings or a lack of communication are often issues within a typical hospital environment. Busy providers often give patients the bare minimum of information, which can come off as curt or unsympathetic. Emphasizing compassionate communication is essential as it helps patients feel at ease and can eliminate some of the uncertainty they might be feeling.

Providing translation services and updating signage to include multiple common languages in the hospital’s region helps to ensure that patients and family members can give and receive critical information about a patient’s health and individual needs. Being able to communicate with patients in their own language can also help them to feel more at ease.

Increase Accessibility

Many patients who struggle with accessibility issues often have trouble getting compassionate care that meets their needs. True compassion for patients involves ensuring that they have support and can access the services that they need, whether there is a language barrier, a disability, or a mobility issue.

Hospital campuses must be set up to help patients communicate with their providers and move around effectively. In addition to providing translation services and updated signage to improve communication, hospital campuses should be set up to allow patients and visitors with physical disabilities and mobility issues to easily navigate and move around the hospital.

Ramps, convenient elevators, and signage in Braille are all examples of accessibility improvements that can support a culture of compassion and empathy. Thoughtful consideration for people who generally face accessibility issues will make a big difference in their overall experience and satisfaction.

Encourage Provider Collaboration

Providers who collaborate to provide care for individual patients can create a more personalized inpatient care experience that promotes better outcomes. When doctors and nurses seem to operate in their own silos, it can make patients feel like they have to explain key information over and over again or worry about issues like drug interactions. It also makes patients feel like their providers aren’t invested in their overall health.

Giving staff members better technology for communicating with one another can make a huge difference in the patient experience and patient outcomes. One way to do this is to use secure clinical messaging apps to encourage and streamline collaboration. Providers will be better able to communicate with one another if they have access to mobile devices to streamline the paperwork side of the care process.

Being able to access patient records and communicate with other providers can help prevent errors, reduce the time spent running back and forth to different workstations, and help improve communication with other providers and patients. This kind of tech infrastructure improvement also needs to be accompanied by a robust cybersecurity strategy that will help protect sensitive data.

Ensuring that hospital campuses have the capability of providing patients with remote monitoring services can also encourage collaboration and make patients feel secure, knowing that their provider will let them know if something goes wrong.

Improve the Patient Discharge Process

Some people who are ready to be discharged from the hospital sometimes have no place to go. Individuals who are experiencing homelessness or those who have no one to help care for them when they do arrive home and need a transfer to a nursing facility. Even if they can go home directly, they or their caregivers often feel unprepared to manage their health at home on their own.

Automation can help hospital campuses significantly improve their discharge processes. Automated referrals can help take some of the pressure off of social workers and automatic updates of hospital capacity in a centralized system can reduce confusion and make the entire process more efficient.

These systems can also be used to help generate discharge plans and create a follow-up schedule to support patients as they heal. Compassion means caring for people even after they leave the campus!

Putting the Care in Healthcare

In a busy hospital environment, compassion and empathy can sometimes take a backseat. However, it’s important for administrators to do whatever they can to create a culture that emphasizes these aspects of the patient experience.

By making hospital campus upgrades that support the most vulnerable patients and create more efficient workflows that allow providers to focus on compassionate care, patients can receive a personalized experience that minimizes stress. Being in the hospital is always stressful, but these improvements can help make the experience better for both patients and staff.

Although making improvements can represent a large investment, it’s important for administrators to understand the value of these upgrades for patients, staff and for being a leader in the healthcare system.

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education.

Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety.

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