Each time a patient walks into a healthcare facility, the care they receive should address more than just their clinical needs. The care team should take into consideration their emotional, social, and financial situation.
This approach is called patient-centered care, and when used correctly, this method allows every aspect of a hospital's operations to contribute to the care experience. One department with a significant ability to improve the patient’s care experience is the hospital environmental services (EVS) team.
Hospital Environmental Services and the Perception of Cleanliness
A properly trained and educated EVS staff has an immeasurable impact on patient centered-care. In a world shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that EVS teams understand how important their role is in a patient’s healing process.
There are many things during a hospital stay that may be foreign to a patient. Testing, treatment, and medications may all be things that they’re not familiar with.
Cleanliness, however, is something patients and visitors are very familiar with. Patients often use measures such as cleanliness to judge how well a medical facility is performing. If patient perceptions are that the facility is not sanitary, it brings into question how the facility is performing in other areas.
Not only is cleanliness of the utmost importance, but it also makes a patient feel safe. Patients directly correlate a facility’s cleanliness with the increased risk of hospital-acquired infection (HAI). Ensuring that the healing environment is properly sanitized and disinfected for the patient immediately lends credibility to the facility and the staff.
The Importance of Communication
For their influence on patient centered-care to be most impactful, EVS leaders must commit to providing on-going education and training to their team members regarding interpersonal and communication skills. Methods such as AIDET should be adopted not only by physicians but anybody who interacts with patients.
For EVS team members, proper scripting and messaging of what cleaning duties are being carried out should be communicated to patients daily. This should be supplemented with observational rounding and documentation to ensure team members are effectively communicating with patients, family members, and fellow facility staff members.
In addition to cleanliness and effective communication, collaboration with facility staff members is crucial.
All disciplines in a healthcare setting must work together to ensure that care is patient-centered. For hospital environmental services teams to significantly impact patient-centered care, the department must be aligned with the hospital’s overall mission.
Collaborative rounding and interdepartmental meetings can help align otherwise siloed teams. The more each department is aware of what the other is working on or challenged with, the better they’ll support one another and provide a seamless, unified experience to the patient.
A clean and safe environment isn’t something that’s a bonus to provide to your patients. It’s a fundamental expectation that patients use to make a judgment on the overall quality of care.
Hospital environmental services teams can improve real and perceived cleanliness by performing the proper disinfection techniques, but it’s also vital they communicate to the patient what they’re doing and why it’s essential. Doing so in a friendly and empathetic way can make all the difference in boosting patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores.
Lastly, all departments in the facility play a role in providing patient-centered care. The more hospitals can break down departmental silos and get everybody collaborating and working toward the same goal, the better the patient experience will be.