Highest-ever survey scores reflect employees’ commitment to service.
Patient satisfaction scores are vital to all health care organizations — especially in South Florida, where patients have the choice of where they want to receive their care. In August, the 3,100 employees at UHealth Tower earned their highest-ever rating in Press Ganey’s patient satisfaction survey, in which 91% of participants stated they were “likely to recommend” the hospital to others.
It required a team effort from many different departments — such as environmental services, nursing, physicians, dietary, patient experience, patient access, laboratory, transportation, and others — to earn this high patient satisfaction score. UHealth Tower received such high ratings because of the positive interactions that patients and families have with staff throughout their inpatient stay.
“We are committed to the highest possible level of patient satisfaction, as well as the safety and quality of our care,” said Tanira Ferreira, M.D., chief medical officer of UHealth Tower, the flagship of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. “Despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic, our teams have worked diligently over the past few years to deliver excellent supportive service to our patients and their family members, with great results.”
“We are thrilled to reach this milestone, which reflects a tremendous effort by our entire hospital team,” said Kristen Murphy, assistant vice president in the Office of Patient Experience. “We are all dedicated to treating patients and their families with courtesy and respect throughout their stay, from admission through discharge by working together to making sure they are being cared for.”
A Specialized Team
In the past decade, UHealth Tower has steadily expanded its Patient Experience Department, focusing on raising inpatient patient satisfaction scores with specialized roles, including professionals assigned to hospital floors, in surgical waiting areas, and at the entrances to the hospital.
“We used to fill a variety of roles, and having a more structured team has been very helpful in increasing patient satisfaction,” said Arael Lino, M.B.A., a patient experience specialist who has been at the hospital for more than 25 years.
“When the COVID pandemic left patients in isolation, we set up daily video calls for family members,” Lino said. “We continue to offer that service for patients who want to communicate with family and friends who can’t come to the hospital. We also expanded our visitor hours, while continuing to take health and safety precautions to protect our patients.”
Effective communication is essential to delivering an outstanding patient experience, Lino said. For instance, patients do not always understand all the specifics of their doctor’s diagnosis and plan of care — particularly in the culturally diverse South Florida community. The patient experience specialist will often communicate with the physician or team to assist if the patient or family member has questions about treatment, plan of care or discharge planning.
“We are on the floor to help the patient and their family navigate the challenges of being admitted to the hospital,” Lino said. “We also visit each patient daily and ask a series of questions regarding their care. This gives us an opportunity to identify any special needs and address any issues right on the spot. We also talk regularly with family members, who may have their own concerns about care.”
Common requests relating to patient satisfaction include special meals, chargers for mobile devices, and contact numbers for assistive services after discharge/ “We are all very proud of the high level of personal service we provide to our patients,” Lino said.
The Nursing Perspective
UHealth Tower’s nurses also go above and beyond the call of duty to serve their patients, according to Kristine Roblejo, R.N., a clinical nurse educator on the 11S floor who began working at the hospital in 2020 after completing a graduate residency program.
“We work as a team to make sure patients have the 24/7 care they need on every shift,” she said. “That includes taking part in morning rounds with the physicians and checking in throughout the day.”
Roblejo added that UHealth Tower’s charge nurses, who oversee specific areas of the hospital, are not assigned direct patient care. Instead, they can pitch in to help with direct care if floor nurses are busy. “We have a very diverse employee population, which helps us connect with patients from different backgrounds,” she said. Nurses also carry tablets with an application for live language interpretations in real time to communicate with patients who may not understand English, Spanish, or Haitian Creole.
“When it comes to discharge planning, we make sure patients and family members have access to the medications and support services they need,” Roblejo said. “We also created a comfortable discharge lounge where patients can relax and wait until they can be picked up and go home. If a ride is not available, we can assist with transportation.”
While the UHealth Tower team is proud of the latest patient satisfaction ratings, Dr. Ferreira understands the importance of maintaining positive momentum.
“For the past two years, we have seen an improvement in the scores, but hitting this milestone is cause for a special celebration,” she said. “Leadership visited all of the inpatient units, on both the day and night shifts, delivering a cake and goodies to thank them for their contribution to the overall patient experience. Continuous improvement is one of the cornerstones of our culture of excellence, and we will continue to move forward on our journey.”