Other changes in hospital structure and service have occurred as a result of consumer feedback and new levels of demand for information and assistance. Today's consumer wants to maintain health. When ill, they want to return to health quickly, and they want a say-so in how this is accomplished. Because, on a daily basis, the demands exceed the average physician's ability to provide all the services we want, the community hospital has become the center for today's expanded healthcare needs.
Consumers have increased accessibility to information that helps them make good decisions about who delivers their healthcare and where they go to receive it. As the data becomes easier to understand and act on, consumers will be more able to communicate their needs and desires back to the providers. As many already do, hospitals will respond by providing what consumers have defined as quality healthcare. Through rapid advancements in computers and telecommunications and advanced medical imaging, hospital services will reach more people.
Though not all consumers think alike about healthcare, there is one thing that frequently is part of our definition of quality hospital healthcare: They were returned to health. To better ensure patient satisfaction and meet quality requirements in healthcare, today's consumers are choosing hospitals that have experience in a needed procedure and can demonstrate their successes.
There may be other emotionally based attitudes and opinions held by consumers when assessing the quality of the hospital care they receive. They expect continuity and coordination in their care, smooth transitions from illness to health, better emotional support that includes the involvement of family and friends and staff sensitivity to the inconveniences a hospitalization can create. Patients also expect to feel respected and their hospital will enforce patient information confidentiality policies. Patients want to know that their problems will be taken seriously and want sufficient time with their physician. And, they want attention shown to their personal needs. When they leave the hospital, they want clear instructions that include information about their health, that alert them to danger signals and that advise them about the resumption of normal activities.