Creating Patient Loyalty in Emergency and Critical Care Departments

Group of people waiting in emergency room hallway

According to new research from PRC and the Healthcare Experience Foundation, across both Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit patients, perceptions of teamwork between doctors, nurses, and staff was the number one key driver impacting patient loyalty.

The study, published in the EC Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Journal, offers insight into the complex factors influencing where patients turn for care, even in emergency situations.

“The patient experience is widely regarded as a top priority in healthcare. There is so much complexity in the Emergency and Critical Care environments, and our goal was to isolate aspects of care that are most important to patients in order to give leaders, staff, and physicians clarity to support their improvement efforts,” Katie Owens, President of the Healthcare Experience Foundation, SVP of PRC Excellence Accelerator®, and lead author of this study, said.

The study was completed using retrospective patient experience survey data from 2016 to 2019 for patients discharged from 441 emergency departments and 40 critical care units. On average, teamwork explained 69% of the variation of patient loyalty in the Emergency Department and 55% of the variation of patient loyalty in the ICU.

The study identified Key Drivers of Excellence, attributes of the patient experience statistically demonstrated to influence perceptions of patient loyalty.

The top four Emergency Department Key Drivers included:

  1. Overall Teamwork between Doctors, Nurses, and Staff
  2. Doctor Understanding and Caring
  3. Discharge Instructions
  4. Doctor Instructions/Explanations of Tests

In the Critical Care Departments, the top three Key Drivers included:

  1. Overall Teamwork between Doctors, Nurses, and Staff
  2. Overall Level of Safety
  3. Nurses Understanding and Caring

“When patients perceive their care as excellent in attributes such as teamwork, understanding and caring, level of safety, discharge instructions, and instructions/explanations of tests, hospitals’ efforts will be rewarded with patient loyalty in these high acuity environments,” Joe M. Inguanzo, Ph.D., President, and CEO of PRC, said.

The study notes that creating patient loyalty depends on relationship-building, communication skills, and working together as a care team. Improving the attributes of care identified as key drivers can positively shape the care experience for some of the most vulnerable and urgent patient populations.