Patient Experience: Why It's Important & How it Can Improve
For patients with recurrent health issues, or cancer patients receiving regular treatment, it’s not uncommon for a trip to the hospital to conjure up some feelings of anxiety or an overall sense of insecurity. Why is that?
If you were to ask an “experienced” hospital patient, they would likely blame the patient experience.
Let’s discuss the patient experience in healthcare, why it matters, and how improving patient experience can be the best move for helping patients heal.
What is Patient Experience?
Patient experience is a term used to describe an individual’s experience with the different facets of the healthcare system. From health plans to interactions and care provided by hospital staff, the patient experience focuses on the timeliness, professionalism, and level of care offered by varying healthcare personnel, systems, and services.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality points out that patient experience is often confused with patient satisfaction, which is a patient’s expectation of how care is supposed to be or should have been delivered.
These two distinctions may seem all-encompassing to someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time in a hospital. Unfortunately, one major aspect is being overlooked, and that is the effect a standard hospital environment has on patients’ emotional and mental health.
Real Patient Experiences in Healthcare
While efficient hospital practices and pleasant healthcare workers are important to the overall patient experience, the environment in which a patient must call home for any amount of time should have some semblance of comfort. Unfortunately for many patients, this is not the case and often results in feelings of loneliness and helplessness.
We asked real patients to summarize their experiences while staying in the hospital. These are their experiences:
1. Hospital Settings are Cold & Staff are Void of Emotion
From the moment you check in to the moment they put the bracelet on your wrist and you become a patient number, the entire hospital experience is cold and void of emotion. Instead of talking to you, everyone talks at you. While they may hear you, no one is listening. In a hospital, you are just a number.
2. Feelings of Vulnerability Quickly Set In
When you are asked to put on the hospital-issued gowns and socks laid out on the bed, there is a feeling of vulnerability and loneliness that settles in; you are in the hospital, and now it is real. Who knows what is going to happen? You are at the mercy of strangers, and that thought can take a toll on your mental and emotional state.
Each time a medical professional steps in, they examine you as if you are an object, undressing you to make sure they have access to the body parts they need to see. This increases the feeling of vulnerability that is difficult to shake.
3. Physical Overexposure is Normalized
Hospital-issued, reusable gowns were designed with one purpose only; to make the body as accessible as possible at any moment for hospital staff. These scratchy, paper-thin gowns leave a patient exposed at all times, leaving no room for imagination or warmth, even when not being examined. As one patient put it:
“Using the restroom is the worst - the floor is cold, the gown makes you feel exposed and drags on the floor as you use the restroom.”
Walking around the hospital in a reusable, one-size-fits-all gown only makes the feeling of being exposed more pertinent, which can also take a toll on a patient’s emotional state.
How to Improve Patient Experience
Advocate for Patients
One of the most effective methods to improve patient experience is through patient advocacy. Whether it be from a patient advocating for themselves and other patients, or a family member or friend speaking up about impersonal interactions, making your voice and experiences heard about standard practices that are emotionally damaging to patients could make a difference in your local hospital community.
Contact hospital administration or Patient Advocacy Groups to share your experiences and how damaging your experience was to your recovery. Discuss things like staff and patient interactions, hospital-issued apparel, and how the hospital could create a more comforting sense of “home” to help patients relax and focus on their recovery.
Give Purposeful Gifts & Offer Words of Encouragement
Improving patient experience can also come from family and friends in the form of encouragement, helpful actions, and purposeful gifts. Educating yourself on what to say to someone in the hospital, cooking home-cooked meals, lending a helping hand with household duties, and bringing a smile to their face are all great places to start. In fact, educating yourself on How to Support Someone in the Hospital is one of the best ways to improve their patient experience and is the entire reason we created HUGGA hospital wear.
Thoughtfully Crafted Hospital Wear for the Warrior in Your Life
Through our thoughtfully crafted hospital wear, HUGGA has taken the biggest factors affecting patient vulnerability and turned them into warm and comfortable apparel items patients will be glad to have.
The HUGGA hospital gown is a functional, stretchy, privacy-protecting personal gown offering the perfect amount of coverage a patient needs to feel secure, without compromising accessibility if and when it’s required. Paired with our hospital robe, hospital grip socks, and beanie hat for cancer patients, your loved one will never have to worry about cold hospital rooms keeping them down, helping them focus on what’s important: getting better.
Whether through advocacy or purposeful gifts, improving patient experience is a team effort we can all contribute something to. Shop HUGGA today to see how our mission of creating feel-good hospital wear is helping patients heal, or visit the HUGGA blog for helpful information on how to best support your sick loved one or to nominate a patient to win a special HUGGA gift on your behalf.