8 Tips To Improve Patient Experience At Spine Centers

Executive Director of Laser Spine Institute Arizona Patricia Graham, BSN, RN, talks about eight ways her spine center strives to make a better patient experience.
1. Develop a relationship with patients before the appointment. Don’t wait until the patient is sitting in the surgeon’s office to begin your relationship with them. Ms. Graham sends a welcome letter to patients seven to 10 days before their visit. She and her staff also gather personal information from patients prior to their appointments so the center is ready for their arrival.
2. Make sure patients can easily find and navigate the facility. Earlier this year, Ms. Graham received several patient concerns from patients about difficulty finding Laser Spine Institute. Many patients were coming from out-of-town, or out-of-state, and had trouble navigating the area.
“We work in a corporate park and two of the buildings are identical, so patients were going in the wrong building,” says Ms. Graham. “We started including a map of the area providing directions on how to get to our facility with the other information we give patients before their visit to hopefully eliminate that frustration.”
3. Rearrange the waiting room so it looks like a lounge. It took Ms. Graham and her team only a few hours and no additional expenditure to rearrange the waiting room so it resemble a five-star hotel lobby instead of a medical clinic.
“We changed the seats from clinic rows into a lounge setting,” she says. “The chairs are more strategically located for better communication between families. We also have complimentary Wi-Fi and a café for patients and their families. It makes them feel more comfortable.”
4. Get to know the patients on a personal level. Laser Spine Institute has a “new patient package,” which includes a preference card on their personal likes and dislikes. Before the patients even visit the practice, staff members develop a profile for them.
“We record any preferences the patient shares, and whether they require any special menus,” says Ms. Graham. “We collect different requests they have and that form follows them through the entire visit.”
5. Retrieve patients from the waiting room quietly. Instead of standing at the entrance of the waiting room and yelling for patients, Laser Spine Institute has devised a system to identify patients before their visit with a photo ID and then quietly retrieve them from the waiting area.
“Employees will look at the pictures and then approach the patient to tell them it’s their turn,” says Ms. Graham. “We do it in a quiet and comfortable manner. It’s like the difference between seating people at a five-star restaurant or a fast-food place.”
6. Meet with patients to set expectations. Ms. Graham attempts to meet with every patient on day one, before they begin their clinical appointments at Laser Spine Institute. Ms. Graham listen’s to patient expectations and discusses expectations related to the clinical and surgical process. She tells them what to expect during their visit and encourages them to communicate with staff members and surgeons throughout their stay.
7. Give patients enough time with surgeons. Another complaint at Laser Spine Institute — and one that’s echoed at spine groups across the country — is lack of time with the surgeon. To address these issues, Laser Spine Institute surgeons now visit the patient twice before their procedure.
“Patients didn’t feel like they were getting enough time with the surgeons, so now they see them twice preoperatively,” says Ms. Graham. “The patients also receive postoperative calls with the surgeons the day after surgery.”
8. Get real time feedback. Collecting patient feedback is one of the most important ways spine surgeons and groups can continue to improve. Ms. Graham tries to collect real-time feedback by talking with patients and addressing any issues patients may have immediately.
“It’s easier to correct a problem while the patient is here instead of finding out about it after they left,” says Ms. Graham. “When I do my initial visit with them, I give them my business card and ask them to reach out to me if their expectations aren’t met. If they have recommendations about something we can do better, I like to involve them with that. They have my direct line.”
Source: Becker’s Spine Review