Top-Notch HTM Service Bolsters Patient Satisfaction
By George Hampton
Everyone on the TKA team – from our leaders to front-line biomeds – considers themselves to be healthcare professionals. And in that capacity, we play an influential role in patient satisfaction, even if most people don’t make that connection.
But think about it: If our Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) teams don’t have diagnostic and therapeutic medical equipment ready when needed for patient care, hospital leaders will get an earful – from both patients and providers, neither of whom want to be inconvenienced or delayed in treatment plans. Consider patients’ disappointment when they’ve waited weeks – or longer during the pandemic – for their appointment, have taken time off work and arrive at the medical facility only to learn their procedure must be delayed because a necessary piece of equipment isn’t working correctly or at all.
As many of you know, our industry emerged in the 1970s to ensure that medical technology, much of it still in its electronic infancy, was safe for patient use. Today’s modern equipment is designed and built with patient safety top of mind, meaning that satisfaction now plays more heavily into a hospital’s competitiveness with its local peers. Patients are more likely to select a healthcare system based on its patient satisfaction scores, which can be easily found with just a few keystrokes.
With reimbursements tightening (and lowered exponentially with poor satisfaction scores) and industry-wide drops in revenue-generating scheduled procedures due to COVID protocols, hospitals are fighting harder for every patient dollar. High satisfaction scores are critical in gaining and maintaining a market advantage.
At TKA, we believe effective hospital partnerships translate into a shared mission of high-quality care that earns the best patient satisfaction scores, starting with our commitment to the safety of their patients and the overall financial health and reputation of the organization.
How HTM bolsters patient satisfaction
Our niche in healthcare is to express our talents by caring for medical equipment and associated technology, which is used in virtually every patient case today. We certainly tend the big-ticket devices, like imaging machines, but we also clean and maintain common items such as digital thermometers.
As the pandemic continues to cloud the healthcare ecosystem, medical providers are burning out and leaving the field, resulting in higher patient-to-clinician loads. The more effective we can be at having equipment at the ready, the more one-on-one time clinicians can have with patients.
Here are how an effective HTM program, such as TKA, should work to improve patience satisfaction:
- Take away the burdens of technology. Doing our job thoroughly and effectively takes the equipment burdens off the providers. One of the biggest things I’ve witnessed over the years is how much patients want greater communication with their doctors, nurses and other providers. I’ve spent more time in the hospital on the other side as I escort my elderly parents to appointments, and it seems like they’re constantly waiting for someone to walk in the door and tell them what’s next in their treatment or what’s going on. As someone with a love for healthcare, if I had my way, I’d remove all burdens that don’t relate directly to patient care and contact so providers can offer more engagement.
Historically, we’ve also played a role in educating providers in the proper use of common medical devices, an important practice that was diminishing even before COVID operations. That has helped to position our biomeds as important allies in achieving healthy outcomes for patients.
- Provide timely service. Hospitals handle life-or-death cases every day, where the fates of patients depends on providers having the right medical technology to deliver the right diagnostics or treatment. We take full responsibility for maximizing uptime and respond with urgency when a service call comes in. You build trust with your partners when you prove you’re there when you’re needed.
- Be compassionate. Whether a patient is in the hospital for a critical acute need or the joyous arrival of a baby, we need to be cognizant of what that individual is experiencing. All kindness starts with a smile. During pandemic practices where face masks are a constant in the medical environment, our people have become experts in smiling with their eyes, which puts off a bit of a sparkle. That extends also to providers, who know who’s not fully supporting the mission, and the roles of individuals such as biomeds are even more critical in this challenging environment. To be blunt, if you don’t make good customer service a priority, you’re not going to get great patient satisfaction scores.
- Keep the patient’s needs top of mind. Don’t overlook how important comfort is for patients. When they’re in the hospital, particularly if they are there for a difficult diagnosis or treatment, they might not be happy with even top-notch medical care if their bed doesn’t adjust or their TV doesn’t work for two days. It’s not a stretch to say they’re often going to be less happy about that than if their wounds aren’t healing correctly. Research shows that patient recovery relies as much on the psyche of healthcare as the physical side of healthcare. Many HTM teams, whether in-house or vendors, don’t want to service components that fall into the “comfort” category. TKA is moving toward that as an added service, again because a patient’s level of comfort goes a long way in satisfaction. With staffs stretched thinner due to the pandemic, our commitment to partnership is expanding as we step in to take on corollary functions.
- Look at the numbers. We don’t give lip service to satisfaction. We conduct quarterly surveys of our hospital partners to find out how we’re doing and what we could be doing better. This anonymous process lends credibility and gives us a strong baseline on our performance.
That layers on top of our day-to-day operational metrics. Of course, we track recalls and hazards that could be safety issues, but we’re also looking at whether we receive multiple calls that might indicate we didn’t fix the equipment the first time – or something more complex is happening with it. We’re constantly mining that feedback to identify where we might not have been as effective as possible, and we use that information to learn and improve. We’re also ready for any regulatory queries, and we’re proud that TKA has never had a regulatory finding.
Patient satisfaction is a continuous quest
Again, I can’t tell you enough how much I love working in the healthcare industry and seeing sick patients heal, and I know our HTM crews are working their hearts out to keep medical equipment up, running and clean. Every day, patients are admitted and discharged, making patient satisfaction an always-churning goal for any medical organization.
Achieving the best scores relies on effective teamwork across the hospital, as we all play a role in what makes the patient’s experience excellent on any given day. I started in this field because I liked to fix things, and I enjoyed being a hero when I was the technician that got a critical piece of equipment working again for patient care. The true successes are when you develop rich partnerships where the HTM team is an integrated component in high-quality patient care. Reach out to learn how a partnership with TKA could elevate your patient satisfaction scores.
George Hampton is president of TKA.
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