While the impact nurses and physicians have on the patient experience may be the most obvious, care providers are not the only members of the hospital staff who have the power to influence the patient experience.
Though a patient may never be introduced to them, hospital administrators still play a crucial role in what happens during a patient’s stay.
Here are three places where hospital admins have the greatest impact on the patient experience.
1. Recruitment and Retention
Recruiting and retaining staff is one of the primary duties of hospital administrators. A patient’s interaction with their care team arguably plays the most substantial role in how they feel about their hospital stay. Therefore, the choices admins make about hiring, onboarding and keeping staff members directly affects the patient experience.
Hospital administrators must ensure every department is not just adequately staffed, but staffed with highly motivated, skilled healthcare professionals who know what is expected of them and who are all working towards a common goal. Admins must be confident the right people are in the right jobs — otherwise, patient satisfaction (and employee satisfaction) will suffer.
Hospital administrators are responsible for calculating and managing the budget for each department within the organization. They have the power to decide whether or not to:
- Upgrade equipment
- Invest in new healthcare technology
- Redesign waiting areas, patient rooms and other areas in the hospital
- Hire more personnel
- Adjust training or continuing medical education requirements
As they review their options, admins must not only consider the needs of the patient population but they must also take into account changes in the community (such as population growth or the closing of nearby facilities), what competing organizations are doing and the recent performance of the hospital. How they measure the importance of each element affects allocation of hospital budget and resources, which directly impacts the patient experience.
3. Process Improvement
While every member of the staff should be on the lookout for ways to improve how the hospital is run and how care is provided, hospital administrators usually lead projects related to process improvement.
Admins are tasked with regularly evaluating business operations within the hospital and identifying opportunities for enhancement. After determining which issue to address and setting the measurement criteria, hospital administrators conduct observations of the processes related to the issue, collect data and then develop and execute an action plan. Following implementation of the action plan, admins monitor the efficacy of the change to ensure sustained improvement.
Because hospital administrators cannot address all issues simultaneously, they must choose which problem should be resolved first. However, what the admins deem to be the most pressing issue will not be the issue every patient feels is the most important. Thus, similar to their decisions regarding budget and resource allocation, hospital administrators must prioritize the changes that will be most beneficial for both the hospital as well as the largest segment of the patient population.
It’s important to remember that although hospital administrators are not involved in direct patient care, their decisions still affect patient comfort and patient satisfaction. They may be behind the scenes, but their role is still integral to ensuring a positive patient experience.
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