Asking This One Question Will Improve Your Patient Experience

We all judge our experiences differently. What is most important to me, may not be at the top of someone else’s list. And vice versa – what someone else sees as most important may not matter at all to me. The only way to find out what is most important to your patients is to ask. If you don’t ask the question, you won’t find out.

In spite of this simple logic, many patients go through both inpatient and outpatient encounters without ever being asked what is most important to them. And that is a missed opportunity.

When we teach rounding, we encourage nurses to ask, “What is most important to you during your stay with us?” during their initial admission process. Not only does this question help the team to prioritize, but it reassures that patient that you are interested in them just by the act of asking.

Even though this best practice has been recommended for years, I only see it successfully implemented about 20% of the time. The good news is that it can be implemented immediately without spending a dime.

What About Ambulatory?

Asking this question works in ambulatory settings as well. Make it a habit to ask when patients are being roomed and having their vital signs taken. Ask, “What is most important to you about your visit today?” Another way of asking is, “What is the most important thing you want to accomplish during your visit with us today?

Everyone appreciates knowing that their feelings and priorities matter. It also helps the provider in knowing what to discuss.

Want to know what matters? Ask.

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