The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for everybody, but despite the challenges, many patients have come to a realization that it isn’t medicine that matters most, but rather, the human factor. Recent surveys show patients recognize and appreciate the efforts of their care givers and give high marks across the board for health care workers.
Heroes on the Front Lines
The coronavirus has shone a spotlight on many unsung heroes; chief among those are the nation’s health care workers, who put themselves on the front lines every day in the battle against the virus.
Stories have circulated about the bravery and compassion of caregivers dealing with a stressful situation beyond anything they had trained or prepared for. Clinicians are working extended hours with an at-risk population, many of whom have tested positive for COVID-19. They are putting their own health and safety on the line to help those in need…and the world has taken notice, honoring health care workers with decorative yard signs, drive-by parades and even, in some areas, military flyovers. Some are donating money, while others are volunteering their time by sewing face masks.
This is all a far cry from how the year began. Health care in America has been a touchy subject for a long time, with many people focused on spiraling costs and accessibility to vital services. If there’s one silver lining to the current pandemic, it’s that people are now realizing that, while health care is and always will be a business, there’s a strong human factor at play, as well. Over the past decade, patient satisfaction with the health care system has risen only incrementally, about 1 percent every year. But between February and March 2020, surveys from 238,601 hospitalized patients across the U.S. show overall ratings improve by 1.6 percent in that single month alone. In areas hardest hit by the coronavirus, the increase in approval ratings was even higher: 4.3 percent in Washington state and 13.2 percent in New York, testament to a newfound appreciation for the sacrifices being made by front-line caregivers. It’s not just the system receiving accolades, but its workers, too; ratings of physician skills and nurses increased 2.4 percent nationwide and pain control ratings improved 2.9 percent. Patients also gave higher marks for caregiver courtesy, personalized care, responsiveness and empathy, with numbers up between .5 percent and 2 percent in that same month. Again, figures were even higher in the country’s hotspots.
With so much goodwill on display, health care providers have an opportunity to seize the momentum and focus their leadership on emphasizing the human side of medicine. It’s time to prioritize those values that have won the nation’s respect during the pandemic and create a system where patient needs are met efficiently and compassionately. Health care workers are heroes every day…let’s help Americans remember that even when the current crisis is over.