Is Your Patient Advocate Department Evolving? Patient Expectations Are.

Will your organization lead or follow in the quest to satisfy ever-increasing patient expectations? Health care organizations are scrambling to cost-effectively meet patient needs with quality clinical care and deliver an excellent patient experience. Patient Advocates can play an increasingly important role in delivering both.

Of the many critically important Patient Advocate responsibilities, one of the most time consuming is responding to patient complaints and grievances, and many of those could have been avoided or resolved while the patient was still in your care. To more effectively meet patient expectations, leading health care organizations have transitioned Patient Advocates away from their desk and into proactive engagement with patients. As part of this transition, many organizations evolve the role of these individuals from Patient Advocate to Patient Ambassador – a key member of the Patient Experience team.

What is a Patient Ambassador?  Merriam-Webster defines ambassador as, “an authorized representative or messenger”.  A Patient Ambassador is just that…a knowledgeable and proactive representative of the healthcare organization, serving as a patient messenger to promote an excellent, respectful patient experience that includes quality clinical care and exemplary customer service.

This new title and expanded scope of responsibility allow for observation and assessment of care in progress. Instead of reacting to patient complaints and grievances after-the-fact with lengthy investigations and complicated reports, Patient Ambassadors proactively seek patient perceptions of care as it happens and provide immediate service intervention to address shortcomings before the patient leaves your facility.

This new, proactive approach yields several benefits. Patient Ambassadors:

  • Address patient and family member needs and concerns at the point-of-care before they escalate
  • Enhance the experience of care for patients and families by answering questions, preventing loneliness, and serving as a liaison to healthcare staff
  • Provide immediate service recovery to both improve the experience and reduce complaints
  • Enable clinical staff to perform care at the top of their license, which leads to greater employee engagement and retention
  • Improve care processes and patient safety
  • Identify systemic service failures/interruptions for performance improvement action planning

Patient Ambassador Comments

“I have really enjoyed the ambassador young lady sitting and talking with me each day. I have not been in a hospital since 1989 and was a little scared to come in this time, but because she took care of me and sat with me when I had questions, it very easy to be here.”

Patient Ambassadors ask questions; observe the environment; interview patients, staff and family members; and keep track of recurrent complaints, grievances, or service failures that require a more systemic intervention. This engage, observe, and serve approach ultimately gives Ambassadors a real-time look at the experience of care from the patient perspective; yielding valuable and actionable insight to improve performance and deliver each patient with an improved experience.

Enabling Patient Ambassadors with TruthPoint digital rounding provides for a highly efficient process to help transition without adding headcount. Patient Ambassadors record patient feedback digitally using a tablet or smartphone. Critical service shortcomings prompt an immediate alert to the appropriate responding department to trigger service intervention. Other information from the round is aggregated into simple, visually appealing trends, statistics, and verbatim patient comments. This information is then delivered to the inboxes of the directly related care team and ancillary personnel at the precise time and frequency to improve care process, experience, and outcomes.

Patient Ambassador Comments

“I appreciated the patient ambassador coming in a couple of times a day to visit with me and my wife and check on me. She has been great at fixing little issues that have come up …while I have been here “

As our industry changes, the role of the Patient Advocate will evolve into a more direct service-oriented Patient Ambassador. While some of the traditional tasks of Patient Advocates will remain, a new level of engagement with patients and families will allow for a more organized approach to service delivery and continuous performance improvement.

Will you lead or follow?

To learn how TruthPoint helps health systems transition from Advocate to Ambassador and how this has driven improved outcomes, download our Patient Ambassador Program solution paper or contact us to speak with an experienced member of our team.