Trust is the Center of the Patient Experience

Last week I conducted several workshops with nurse leaders. One of the exercises we did helped them to evaluate their own positive and negative experiences as patients. As we listened and shared stores of the best and worst examples, one of the leaders spoke up. The leader stated, “There is one common thread throughout the stories and that is trust. In all of the negative encounters, trust had been eroded. In all of the positive stories, trust was built.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Trust is at the center of every patient experience. After reviewing the experiences of thousands of mystery shops over the years, I can safely say that trust is the linchpin. Here are a few examples from mystery shoppers that bring this point to light.

The Power of Trust

A mystery shopper photographed a hospital bathroom overflowing with paper products on the floor, a wet counter and an unflushed toilet. The shopper recorded this response, “This place is filthy. I’d be afraid I’d get an infection in this hospital. If  employees are not cleaning the bathroom, what else is overlooked?”  The environment can build or erode trust.

A mystery shopper waiting in an exam room overheard a patient’s medical condition along with staff comments about him being a drug seeker. The mystery shopper wrote, “When I overheard all of this I felt like there is no respect for privacy. I can also assume they talk about me just like they had the other patients.”

In another case, the mystery shopper observed the nurse sit down beside the patient, take his hand and assure him that his painful procedure would be over soon. When the mystery shopper asked the patient how this made him feel he said, “I trusted her. She was being honest with me and supporting me.”

Every moment throughout the continuum of care is an opportunity to build trust.

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