According to the Measurement of the Patient Experience in the Journal of American Medical Association, HCAHPS results have shown that "hospitals that provide better patient experience of care have higher adherence to clinical guidelines, lower risk-adjusted mortality rates, and lower readmissions."
In a time when many hospitals are dealing with shrinking budgets, it is now more important than ever to maximize on the simple solutions that can make a big impact. While it is up to each facility to find and adopt best practices for patient care, a very basic and key component to successful patient communication is often neglected, and most of it stems from making one single change: actually connecting the nurse call system.
Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit, that the key to any lasting change is through changing small habits first. Everything from weight loss, to learning, to the success of a large company all stem from hacking the power of little habits. The fact is, most of what people do on a daily basis is a product of automatic habits that require little or no effort, reserving energy for harder tasks. So, when a hospital tackles the goal of raising HCAHPS scores, it should look to the micro changes to create macro changes. That small change starts with something as simple as a bed cable--the BlackJack.
1. THERE IS A HIGH RATE OF NON-CONNECTIVITY WITH NURSE CALL CABLES
How can patients communicate with their caregivers if their bed cables are rarely connected? Most facilities use cabling to connect their hospital beds to their nurse call systems, but whether it's due to multiple bed models and nurse call systems being present in one facility, incompatible bed and nurse call systems, or poorly designed products, these nurse calls are frequently not connected. Sometimes it's because things don't connect properly, other times it's because the cables break too easily. Either way, caregivers will miss 100% of patient calls if their nurse call cable is not connected or broken.
Conduct a simple audit: walk the floor and count how many bed cables are disconnected. It does not matter if those cables are broken or if there are incompatible systems at play, at the end of the day, this tiny detail impacts a caregiver's ability to respond to a patient when called.
2. CONNECTIVITY LEADS TO PATIENT COMMUNICATION
HCAHPS measures the patient's perception of their treatment and experience at a hospital, and is not necessarily a measure of a hospital's function or performance. That being said, if a patient pushes their nurse call button, and no one shows up to help them, this will almost certainly impact how they perceive their treatment. This potentially negative perception is compounded if they push their button multiple times, and there is no response, even though they can hear staff outside their room.
This problem is completely unnecessary. Granted nursing staff can experience alarm fatigue and business is part of the nature of their job, but without communicating, caregivers cannot gauge what exactly the patient needs and how urgently they need it. These points of communication could make the difference between a caregiver helping a patient feel cared for versus neglected. Besides, no one wants a patient falling while attempting to get out of bed unassisted because they can't get anyone's attention. Connectivity leads to communication, and BlackJack helps optimize for connectivity.
3. COMMUNICATION INFLUENCES PATIENT PERCEPTION
Effective patient communication means that the patient feels that doctors and nurses communicated with them well, that new medicines and treatment were disseminated clearly, discharge and post-hospital care were instructed clearly, and that overall, the patient felt that staff was responsive to their needs. This, in addition to factors like the cleanliness and quietness of the hospital, the effectiveness of pain management, and the likelihood of a patient recommending said hospital, all factor into the HCAHPS score. Even if the facilities, equipment, and cleanliness are top notch, what truly shapes patient perception of the quality of care is how well the staff treats them.
The most impactful factor in that is how they communicate, but in order to even create protocols or processes for best communication practices, it is even more important to ensure that the patients have access to communication and assistance when they need it. When communication is made possible when the patient needs it, it amplifies the perception that they are cared for and well treated.
Essentially, patient-centric hospitals tend to perform well across many other standards. At its core, effective communication results in a better patient experience, and hospitals that value a positive patient experience reap the benefits in more ways than one. Though improving HCAHPS scores can be a daunting task to tackle, making a small habit change of always connecting nurse call cables can go a long way in making communication (and subsequently patient experience) a main priority.
Short of installing wireless systems in which it does not need physical cables to connect, the next best bet is to try BlackJack bed cables. These magnetic breakaway cables can render all nurse call systems and bed types universally compatible, so there is no excuse for not connecting them. The magnets always snap a connection in place, and even if a hospital uses multiple different bed models and multiple different nurse call systems, BlackJack bed cables make cable connection the easiest habit to adopt. Subsequent success in communication will still require some work--the BlackJack can only do so much.