As Director of Woman and Newborn Services at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, Louisiana, I’m keenly aware that we face strong competition for the business of expectant moms and their families. Ours is one of four hospitals in the metro-New Orleans area offering obstetric care, which means there is a lot of competition for new patients.
But we have a competitive advantage. We’ve developed a way to boost our patient relationships early and establish invaluable access, starting in the beginning of pregnancy and continuing through their children’s early years.
Our Competitive Advantage
East Jefferson General Hospital uses digital, interactive communications to form strong patient relationships. We automatically connect with prospective patients each week, sharing evidence-based education that prepares them for the pregnancy and parenting journey. In turn, we gain a true understanding of our moms’ hospital experience and satisfaction level through integrated patient-reported feedback and experience surveys.
Our experience survey, which we deliver to new moms post-discharge, asks for patient feedback on exactly what our leadership needs to know. Because of our strengthened connection and ongoing relationship with our patients, they’re willing to give us information and data beyond what standard tools like Press Ganey and HCAHPS can provide.
We gain insight that allows us to:
- Show internal stakeholders how we really stack up in terms of patient experience and satisfaction
- Make organizational improvements
- Recognize and reward high-performing nurses
The survey has two unique differentiators. First, it has an impressive average response rate of 32% (compared to Press Ganey's rate of less than 10%).
Second, it arrives by email – not snail mail. HCAHPS, which is sent by mail, is randomized, and very few people reply to the survey. We believe our patients are more likely to open the email survey because they’re already familiar with this format of connecting with us.
Proving Our Impact to Hospital Executives
The survey is an efficient and effective tool for collecting patient feedback, and we share it with our hospital leadership, including the Director of Nursing, Chief Financial Officer and the CEO.
As maternity wards come under increased pressure to prove their profitability or risk closure, having qualitative and quantitative data helps us prove our value. If there’s ever an area where we rank lower than usual on HCAHPS, we rely on our unique patient experience survey to identify where we really stand.
An Improved Discharge Process
Our survey questions solicit practical feedback that helps us continually improve. For example, whereas HCAHPS asks patients to rate the hospital discharge process on a scale, we ask an open-ended question that yields the additional details needed to improve hospital processes. Patients were commenting that discharge takes too long, so we’re now working to streamline this process.
Better Nursing Staff Recognition and Engagement
We also use patient feedback to recognize and reward our staff. When a patient mentions a nurse by name, the comment is logged into the staff member’s evaluation. Come review time, these comments get factored into promotion decisions. It’s an incentive for our staff to do great work here.
From promoting our OB department hospital-wide, to connecting with patients, improving hospital workflows and focusing on staff engagement and retention, our digital patient engagement program provides the patient access we need to make better business decisions.
By harnessing the power of health technology to improve care and operational efficiency, we believe that East Jefferson General Hospital is leading the charge among New Orleans-area OB hospitals toward innovating the patient experience.
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