Patient perceptions of safety, quality and experience affect a hospital’s reputation. How does Environmental Services fit into the equation?

In today’s consumer-driven health care marketplace, hospitals and health systems must promote and protect their brand by maximizing the value of the care experience. Patients expect high levels of cleanliness, and perceive it as a minimum requirement for safe, high-quality care. Health care is a team sport, but as a recent article in Health Facilities Management suggests, Environmental Services (ES) personnel play a big part in contributing to the patient’s perceptions of cleanliness and quality of care.

The article focuses on the analysis of patient assessments of their care experience and incidents of certain healthcare acquired illnesses (HAIs). Findings indicated a relationship between patients’ perceptions of cleanliness and incidents of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile. The correlation between patient perception of cleanliness and HAI rates suggests that patients can judge actual cleanliness. But it also validates the important role of ES personnel in patient evaluations of their hospital experience:

The connection between patients’ and families’ perceptions of cleanliness and their perceptions of a hospital’s reputation makes sense. [ …] For hospitals working to improve the actual and perceived cleanliness of the care environment, operational practices are central to these efforts. Decisions such as which cleaning agents are most effective in eliminating bacteria and how frequently “deep cleaning” should occur at times when the room is unoccupied are relatively straightforward.

Health Facilities Management also recommends that hospital managers help ES personnel understand how the physical environment influences the patient experience, and offer ES support, education and resources on the journey to deliver patient-centered excellence. Read more about the role of ES in sustaining patient loyalty in the full article.