Improving Patient Experiences in the Emergency Department

The Emergency Department (ED) team at our Hospital is committed to ensuring that each patient is satisfied with the care they receive.

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has one of the busiest Emergency Departments in Ontario with about 9,000 visits per month. With so many patients coming through on a daily basis, the Emergency Department (ED) team is committed to ensuring that each one is satisfied with the care they receive.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve patient satisfaction and the overall patient experience,” said Lisa Beck, Director of the Trauma Program, Critical Care and Emergency Services. “Since patients are at the centre of everything we do, the best way for us to improve is to ask our patients directly how we can do better. Their feedback is applied to Patient Experience Action Plan, where we adapt our services to meet the needs identified.”

One way our Hospital gathers meaningful input from ED patients is through National Research Corporation (NRC) patient satisfaction surveys that are offered to all ED patients. The results are reviewed on a monthly basis so that Hospital administrators can evaluate the impact of changes we’ve implemented.

“Not all ED patients fill out the survey, so we also gather input through a Patient and Family Advisor who actually engages with patients while they’re in our Emergency Department,” said Beck. “We’ve found that real-time feedback to be really helpful and a great example of our Patient and Family Centred Care philosophy at work.”

A common theme among patient feedback was the desire for more information on how the ED works and what can be expected. Patients wanted to know how it’s determined which ED patients are seen first, about visitor policies, and other patient guidelines and policies.

“We understand that visits to the ED can be very stressful and we want to ease the anxieties of our patients and their families,” said Tyler Van Ramshorst, Operations Coordinator for Emergency and Trauma Services. “We now provide a brochure that explains everything ED patients need and want to know while they’re here for care.”

Since the Patient Experience Action Plan has been implemented, ED patient satisfaction rates have improved by 23%, rising from a starting point of approximately 57% to 70% in all dimensions.

“Our improvement efforts are ongoing, but we’re really proud of the progress we’ve made so far,” said Van Ramshorst. “Everyone involved in the working group, and our nurses in particular, have fully embraced the plan and are completely engaged and committed to patient satisfaction. The level of professionalism and dedication to Patient and Family Centred Care under what can be very challenging circumstances is really remarkable. We’re fortunate to have such caring staff in our Emergency Department.”