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Posted on Feb 17, 2017

Are Hospitals Missing What Patients Really Care About?

Are Hospitals Missing What Patients Really Care About?

Every hospital and healthcare system claims to possess compassion and care about patients. If it’s not stated as a core value, then it’s written into the mission statement.

This is true for big healthcare systems, including:

This is true for smaller hospitals and healthcare systems, including:

It’s also true for well-known hospitals, including:

So what exactly does it mean to provide “excellent care” or “compassionate concern”?

Man-on-crutches-in-hospital-300x225Based on what’s listed in many hospital documents, care and compassion means: showing concern, kindness, and respect; serving and advocating on their behalf of patients; and sharing in the joy and sorrow of others.

Yet, the reality is that for most hospital employees, it means doing whatever is necessary to get the patient well enough to go home. This translates into decisions and behaviors that are not always patient-friendly; nor addressing the other issues that patients really care about.

This was big eye-opener for me when I discovered a few years ago the #1 item patients scored hospitals on:

Availability of WiFi

The most important concern to patients was not a hospital’s mortality rate. It had nothing to do with recovery times. It was the ability to stay connected online while in the hospital.

Clearly there’s a disconnect between what hospital think matters to patients vs. what really matters.

What Hospitals are Missing

Based on various healthcare research reports, here are a few of the things patients really want:

  • Food on demand. If a patient is hungry, and eating is permissible for their condition, why must they wait until the hospital says they can eat?
  • Bedside computer. If a patient can’t have their own laptop, why not provide a computer they can use to check email, social media, and even answer medical questions.
  • Unrestricted visiting hours. Why can’t patients have family and friends visit when it’s convenient to them? (Providing it doesn’t disturb other patients.)
  • Knock before entering. Show some respect for a patient’s privacy.
  • Allow patients to sleep. No one likes to be wakened at 4:00 am. So don’t bother patients during the night (e.g. to take vitals or draw blood) unless it’s critical.
  • Keep the room clean. Ensure each room is cleaned daily and remove unwanted smells.
  • Provide room orientation. Don’t assume patients know how to turn on the TV or how to order food. Give them a tour of the room, where things are located, and how everything works.
  • Keep personal belongings safe. Have a secure process to ensure patient items are safely stored until they’re released. It makes them feel safe too.

Of course, by meeting these needs it could be argued a hospital IS providing care and compassion. It’s just not the kind that most employees assume is expected.

Maybe it’s time for hospitals to clearly define what care and compassion means in terms that are relevant to patients.


What other items really matter to patients when in a hospital?