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Using Patient Rounding Tools to Enhance the Patient Experience

Henry Ford Health System has used patient rounding tools to make the process more efficient. Now, leaders are using the tool to make patient rounding a patient experience driver.

patient rounding tools

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Patient rounding is a tried and true element of the patient experience. Nurses making their way in and out of patient rooms drives quality patient-provider relationships, ensures more patient safety, and allows nurses to assess and fulfill patient needs during the care encounter. As technology permeates the healthcare space, health systems are tapping patient rounding tools to support this age-old process.

Nurse rounding has long been inefficient, with some patients receiving multiple visits from a nurse while others go without one. At Henry Ford Health System, patient rounding tools from CipherHealth has helped quell inefficiencies and allowed nurse managers to keep better track of patient rounding progress.

“We were looking for a way to hold accountability and streamline the patient rounding process,” Vanessa Mona, director of Care Experience at Henry Ford, told PatientEngagementHIT.com. “Prior to having the rounding tool, nurses – or the nurse managers or the assistant managers – would actually print off a census and manually check off which patients they saw.”

This created a pretty inefficient system, Mona explained. A nurse could go out and round on seven patients, but until that nurse connected with his assistant manager or someone else in charge on the floor, nobody truly knew which patients were rounded on.

“That created a lot of repetitiveness,” Mona stated. “One patient was getting multiple rounds while another wasn’t getting rounded on at all. We really needed a tool that could help make the nurses’ time more efficient.”

READ MORE: Nurse Communication, Teamwork to Boost Care Experience Scores

Now, nurse leaders can look at their rounding tool and see that beds one, two, and three have been rounded on. This allows nurses to visit other beds that have not had nurse visits, which ensures patients each receive a check-in.

With this rounding tool and up and running for nearly three years, Mona and her team are looking for other ways to improve. Their goals are no longer singularly about ensuring each patient is seen and creating efficiency with nurses’ time. Instead, they are working on delivering a quality patient experience, too.

After all, effective nurse rounding is one of the linchpins in an effective patient experience strategy, Mona explained.

“We want a patient to feel like they are not just a number, that they’re not just another patient,” she noted. “We want to show that we’re hearing them and we’re able to individualize as much as we can for them.”

Efforts to meaningfully connect with the patient and deliver a warm, comforting, and personalized care experience start with bedside nurse rounding.

READ MORE: Effective Nurse Communication Skills and Strategies

Too often, medical professionals lose their sensitivity for how scary the hospital truly can be, Mona said. Clinicians and other hospital workers spend day in and day out at the hospital, often causing them to forget that the patient doesn’t necessarily want to be there.

“A patient has her own daily life and things that she is worried about,” Mona pointed out. “If we can help mitigate some of that suffering – and there’s avoidable and unavoidable suffering – but if we can help mitigate some of that avoidable suffering, that’s what our ultimate goal is for the patient experience. We want to make sure that we can not only clinically take care of them the best that we possibly can, but also help them on that more personal level, giving them that experience.”

Mona and the nursing team do this by making personal connections right off the bat during bedside rounding. While there is certainly specific information each nurse needs to collect during these rounding sessions, Mona warns against becoming too prescriptive in this.

“We don’t want to walk into the room and sound like robots,” she asserted. “We want to walk in there and make sure that we’re sincere, we’re empathetic and we’re really connecting with the patient.”

Mona accomplishes this by asking personal questions that will allow her to get to know the patient. She weaves these talking points into the more clinical work she has to do to ensure the patient is at ease and feeling connected to Mona as a nurse.

READ MORE: Improving Nurse Communication with a 56-Second Strategy

In fact, it’s that level of quality that Mona and her team plan on bringing to their nurse rounding tool next. Now that they have established a baseline for efficient and manageable patient rounding, Mona and her team plan on integrating measures in their management tool to ensure each patient interaction is high-quality.

“Now patients are used to rounding,” Mona stated. “We are getting to the point where we need to put a goal around our alerts, or we need to put a goal around having more of a quality round.”

This will likely require hitting a sweet spot of quality and quantity, she added. Mona does not want to lose the volume of bedside rounding, nor lose the ability to keep track of which patients have been rounded on. However, she and her team still want to implement checks to ensure each patient-provider interaction is personable.

The team at Henry Ford Health System has not necessarily determined how this will look yet, but the intention is there, Mona acknowledged.

What she does know is that nurse leadership will need to get involved. Making personal connections with patients doesn’t take hours, but it does call for some patience and teamwork across the board.

“It requires leadership saying that connects are important,” Mona stated. “This is important to us as nurses and to patients. Making those sentiments clear has made nurses feel empowered if rounding takes a few minutes.”

Nurses should be able to lean on the support of other care team members to make personal connections during bedside rounding.

“Can we engage other staff on the unit to help the nurse manager select the unit secretary or volunteers, or the care experience team? It doesn’t need to just be the nurse,” Mona concluded. “It can be your team, your care team that’s rounding on you for your patient experience.”

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