Managing hospital workers' emotions to enhance patient experience

May 5, 2017 - 2 minute read

Companies know how important it is to understand and manage emotions of customers. This is particularly true in health care, where the patient can feel a wide variety of emotions, impacting the service processes and outcomes of patient treatments. Therefore, scientists recently emphasized on the importance of improving the emotional well-being of hospital staff.

Scientists McColl-Kennedy, Danaherb, Gallanc, Orsingherd, Lervik-Olsene and Vermastate state in their research 'How do you feel today? Managing patient emotions during health care experiences to enhance well-being' there is no other service setting in which emotions are more relevant than in a hospital or clinic. Yet still, hospital's attention is almost fully directed to managing the emotions of patients, whereas the emotions of employees can be decisive for the ability of hospital teams to provide the best patient experience possible.

'Re-imagining the hospital worker's role'

The scientists' research report, published by the Journal of Business Research, calls for a re-imagination of the employees' role 'in order to create a supportive culture for all people involved in health care.' To establish this new culture, hospitals and clinics should first focus on improving the emotional well-being of their staff, they say. Such an approach ensures employees are able to experience and maintain more positive emotions than before.

"Through emotional contagion, staff can positively influence patients and families' emotions through their own positive emotions. Often, staff in health care can become emotionally exhausted, caring for patients and supporting their needs. Resilience is required for staff to continuously bounce back in order to be emotionally fresh for new encounters."

customer journey hip replacement

Image: Customer journey hip replacement. Source: 'How do you feel today? Managing patient emotions during health care experiences to enhance well-being'.

Other mentioned approaches to enhance the ability of managing customer's emotions are:

  •  improving the design of the physical environment (servicescape)

For example, Stanford Medicine has significantly reduced the time from door-to-doctor in the emergency department, decreasing wait times, emotional stress and patients who leave without being seen. The redesigned process that produced these effects also increased patient health outcomes and patient survey scores.

  •  purposefully designing service processes to provide emotionally supportive actions

For example, Sykehusklovnene pediatric hospital in Norway has engaged a wide variety of people in enhancing the emotional well-being of their patients. Professional actors and clowns interact with patients, reducing negative feelings, enhancing joy and appreciation, and providing respite from emotionally exhausting events.

Bas van Essen

Written by Bas van Essen

Bas was Speakap's first marketing manager. He enjoyed gaining a lot of scientific insights about the value and impact of internal communications.