The practice of medicine as a science has always been focused on the best treatment to cure or fix a disease, illness, or injury. However, the practice of medicine as an art and a human service is a patient-centered holistic person. We have come a long way in understanding factors that affect healing such as early and aggressive movement, a sense of well-being and support, and patient comfort as a motivation tool. Not only is providing comfort to patient’s essential to healing, but also to provide an environment that will encourage them to seek care. Regardless of your practice or role, there are a variety of little things that you can do to make your patients a little more comfortable.
Warm things up a bit.
Warming up your patient’s environment will not only help your patient relax and cause less anxiety from a procedure, but can also dramatically improve patient satisfaction scores and keep your patients coming back — and referring their friends, family, and social media networks. There are a variety of ways to warm up the patient care environment. First, make sure the ambient air temperature is comfortable. While many medical facilities tend to keep the environments on the cooler side to promote a clean, germ-free environment, keep in mind that often times you are requesting clients to remove clothing, which only contributes to anxiety and uncomfortable feelings your patient may already have. While there is no reason to crank up the heat, you can simply choose to allow the thermostat to hover closer to 70 degrees than in the 60s.
Other factors that lead to a warmer environment include your employees! Simply acknowledging your patients with eye contact and a smile as soon as you see them, even if you cannot help them right away, immediately puts people at ease. Additionally, medical facilities are known for their sterile coldness, including stark white walls and plain decor. Adding color to waiting rooms and hallways goes a long way in warming up the environment. If you can, paint ceiling tiles and hang interesting art or images on the walls that patients can focus on during a procedure. Include small decorative decor if you are able. If modifying your facility is not possible, you can introduce color by opting for designer exam table paper or colorful kerlix and band-aids.
In addition to making the environment comfortably warmer, you can make things within your facility physically warmer — fluids, tools, and even your own hands! Some examples of where you can warm items include speculums, ultrasound gel, bath wipes, your stethoscope and hands, and IV fluids. These items may seem insignificant, but if you’ve ever been exposed to these items cold, you already understand how much better the experience would have been if the items were just a little bit warmer.
Improve the bedside experience
Many people seeking medical treatment of any kind experience anxiety and stress over the situation — white coat syndrome is a very real condition! A lot of this apprehension and fear can be eased by a pleasant bedside experience. Whether you operate a women’s clinic, and inpatient intensive care unit, or an outpatient medical imaging service, the best patient outcomes will stem from those encounters that are considered comfortable. Many practitioners are very scientific — medical and research-driven — that makes it difficult to offer a soft bedside approach. While making small talk and joking around with patients is not always appropriate, it can help take some of the tension out of the serious conversations being had. Something as small as a smile, a touch of the forearm, and a “is there anything else I can do for you?” all go a very long way in ensuring your patient is as comfortable as possible.
Get the right fit.
Fitting things properly is essential to patient comfort in a variety of ways. For instance, in the hospital setting, ill fitting bed sheets and patient gowns can cause your patients to get tangled and be uncomfortable, in addition to creating bumps that they then must lay on. Make sure that sheets fit the bed the way they should and are smooth and drawn before inviting your patient to lay down on them. If you must transfer your patient from one surface to another, be sure to remove excess material underneath them and straighten out what is left behind. Socks, slings, braces, and gowns are all things that should fit as well as they possibly can to ensure maximum patient comfort. Most patients will “deal with it,” for the sake of not being a burden, but will then share their unpleasant experience with others and are less likely to return.
Use the right lube.
The right supplies make all the difference when it comes to patient comfort. When you think about any of the times that you need to use surgical lubricant — inserting foley catheters, suppositories, speculums, nasopharyngeal tubes, transvaginal wands, or digital probes — all of these situations are uncomfortable to begin with. When you use a generic lubricant, it can become more sticky and tacky, rather than acting as the slick substance it was intended for. This can require you to either use more, which becomes a sticky, uncomfortable mess, or causes friction to the patient in places that no one wants friction applied. Surgilube® water-based surgical lubricant has been the go-to lubricant in the medical community and is available in multi-use tubes or single-use packets for provider convenience. If you must insert something into any body cavity, improve the comfort easily by using surgilube®.
Patient comfort is the best practice you can employ. Although most medical procedures and conversations are uncomfortable, you can improve patient comfort in the smallest ways that will make big differences. At HR Pharmaceuticals, we are all about providing your patients the most comfortable, uncomfortable experience possible. Our products are aimed at making procedures smoother and aiding in decreasing unpleasant friction. Increase patient satisfaction scores as well as make your job easier when your clinic stocks surgilube® surgical lubricant. Browse our entire selection of available products and contact us for more information on how we can help make your patients’ experience more comfortable.