by Dr. Vesna Cado
Dec 28, 2020
The novel COVID-19 virus was a wake-up call, changing the world we know in every possible way. Physical-distancing and stay-at-home directives emerged as the most effective way to fight the pandemic. Emergency safety measures sent mixed messages to the patients to stay home and skip or postpone the medical care they need. This combination of circumstances adds to patients’ feelings of insecurity, anxiety, loneliness and unpleasant experiences. Patients experienced fear of the unknown along with unease from a myriad of changes that are spreading even faster than the virus itself. Focus on human experiences appeared to be the best way out.
Sistina Ophthalmology and its Patient Experience Office decided to implement a strategy that anticipated disruption versus reacting to disruption to stay operational and help those in need of eye care. We reinvented our operational and communication strategies addressing the physical and emotional needs of our employees and patients at the same time. Our strategy was based on four pillars: organizational changes, employees’ engagement, communication with patients, and social responsibility.
Organizational changes following the protocols and rigorous safety measures have protected the health of both our hospital staff (doctors, nurses and administrators) and our patients by avoiding the risk of virus transmission. At the same time, we avoided excessive waste of protective materials and equipment. The emotional, mental, and financial support we offered to our employees and our wider community has engendered loyalty, and our staff is even more dedicated to our patient experience philosophy and culture.
Results were obvious. The survey that we conducted on 550 hospital patients between September and November in 2020, showed extremely positive values in terms of patient experiences. Almost 90% of the patients have rated safety measures, personnel and our communication strategies with highest grates. We have increased new users’ engagement by 78% vs LY, and overall engagement increased by 76% vs LY, followed by 10% growth in cataract surgery program and 2% in posterior segment surgeries. Evidently, strategies based on responsiveness to patients’ individual preferences, needs and values will become focal points of future healthcare policies.