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5 Simple Ways to Improve the Dialysis Patient Experience

dialysis-patient-experienceProviding excellent patient care should be the top priority for all dialysis clinics. Minimizing pain, making patients comfortable, and treating them with compassion creates a respectful experience during a difficult, tedious process. But that can be easier said than done, especially if clinics have problems with leadership, staff and patient communication. If clinics don’t address issues such as lack of professionalism, low staff morale and patient safety, they risk losing patients and money. Below are five effective ways clinics can improve the dialysis patient experience.

Strong Leadership from Management

Strong management of a dialysis clinic is crucial for providing high-quality patient care. If leadership isn’t sensitive to the changing needs of the clinic, their inaction can lead to apathetic staff and unsatisfied patients. Ensuring competent management oftentimes requires outside assistance and guidance. Tapping resources such as the ESRD Network can help in navigating potential changes.

Hire Qualified Staff

Finding the right nursing staff requires a hard look at educational and training requirements. Certified nephrology nurses need to be licensed RNs, have had 3,000 hours of experience in a clinical nephrology setting, and have had at least 30 hours of approved continuing education. Providing standardized training specific to your facility and continued coaching makes staff feel prepared and supported, especially when faced with stressful patient interactions. Encourage and assist your staff in practicing well-being techniques to mitigate burnout.

Establish a Patient Advisory Council

Empowering patients in their own treatment is vital to ensuring a better experience. When patients feel heard and their concerns validated, their outlook concerning their treatment and health significantly improves. Conducting routine surveys for patient satisfaction is one common way to open up the lines of communication. But if you’re truly invested in changing patient treatment, establishing a patient advisory council is a more effective, holistic strategy. Patients can funnel complaints through the advisory council, and members can help identify areas of service that need support and strategize with clinic staff to implement changes.

Put Yourself in Your Patients’ Shoes

Achieving patient satisfaction means more than simply making people happy — it’s about understanding how your patient experiences your current system, and making improvements based on that data. Micah Solomon advocates literally putting yourself in your patients’ shoes:

“Park where the patients do. See how easy it is/isn’t to get to the front door on crutches. Take a tour of your hospital with someone who hasn’t been there before, and let them show you whether they can really find where they’re going. You’ll be amazed how many misaligned, out-of-date, confusing signs you have.”

Solomon argues for taking a cue from hospitality or financial services industries as they excel in making customers feel welcome, cared for and listened to. The bar should be no less for patient treatment in dialysis clinics.

Celebrate Successes with Staff and Patients

As you’re making changes and seeing improvements, let everyone know! Updating your staff and patients about successes will allow them to see progress in action. Affirming your staff’s hard work in relation to those achievements will build staff morale and reinforce the benefits of continued training and coaching. Highlighting your clinic’s progress in newsletters, at advisory council meetings, or on bulletin boards will make the outcomes of patient advocacy visible, and strengthen their feeling of empowerment.

Creating a safe, positive, and caring environment for dialysis patients and staff isn’t simple, but it is necessary for staff retention, strong patient satisfaction, and your bottom line. Implementing these effective strategies will put your clinic on the path to an improved overall experience.

Day in the Life of a Vascular Access Coordinator