As healthcare moves from fee-for-service to fee-for-value, many hospitals are focusing on improvements to care delivery, aiming to make it more patient-centric.
One aspect to that improvement is patient experience – what can hospitals do to enhance a patient’s experience during their care visit?
The first difference is physical environments. Pediatric hospitals often create surroundings for their youthful patients that are bright, welcoming and fun.
Adult hospitals, on the other hand, often have environments that feel as they’re intended – “sterile.” They can be cold, uninviting and often uncomfortable, doing little to distract patients from their ailments.
As the article suggests:
“Adult hospitals… can take a page from the pediatric playbook by creating surroundings that distract and reduce stress and by making clinical practices more patient and family-oriented, rather than more convenient for the caretakers.”
It’s difficult to enhance patient experience if there is an underlying assumption that adults don’t require the same personal attention and thoughtful consideration that children do. Therefore, the article suggests the difference in environments can make it difficult for youth to transition from pediatric hospitals to adult hospitals.
“This rite of passage from the child to adult patient underscores the tacit assumption that adult patients have developed a certain hardiness; a stiff upper lip that renders a reasonably pleasant environment or even sometimes a complete patient-physician trust unnecessary…. The truth is that without help most people, regardless of their age, aren’t naturally good at being patients.”
Besides for physical environment, pediatric hospitals also allow for the same thoughtful consideration in their processes. For example, many pediatric hospitals allow for family members to spend the night with their ill child. However, there are often restrictions on such action within adult hospitals.
Additionally, the article points out a difference in code blue situations:
“One of the most interesting points…is that children’s hospitals tend to have more respect for family in code blue situations. Although adult hospitals tend to require family to leave the room pediatric hospitals, for the past five to 10 years, have no such ban.”
There may be both pros and cons to procedural adjustments such as this; however the high-level differences are worth addressing for hospitals looking to enhance patient experience.
Surely part of the improvement lies with how medical professionals interact with patients, but it also largely involves the environment in which they are interacting.
All patients, regardless of age, should enter an environment ideal for their healing.
As the JAMA editorial is entitled – “treat me like a child.”