By Deanna Leonard, Vice President and General Manager – Professional Healthcare Apparel
Encompass Group, LLC
Do you remember your first encounter with a nurse or a doctor? Perhaps it was at an early check-up in your pediatrician’s office, a visit to the school nurse, or an injury that sent you to the emergency room. It was probably easy for you and your parents to identify the medical professionals caring for you by their dress code. People of a certain age knew nurses dressed in white uniforms, and doctors wore white coats. Through the years, the workplace apparel of medical providers became less uniform, with many doctors leaving their white coats behind and opting for a more casual wardrobe. Nurses went from wearing all white to multiple plain colors to printed scrubs.
Today, for a number of reasons, the pendulum has swung back to embrace the idea of uniform apparel for healthcare professionals, particularly in hospitals and long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) facilities. These facilities have so many staff members interacting with patients or residents – from doctors and nurses to lab technicians, dietary and environmental services personnel – and need a way for everyone to distinguish between them. Providers also are realizing distinct benefits from a uniform apparel program including:
- Stronger branding
- Increased security
- Better patient experiences
- Greater employee satisfaction
- Improved infection prevention and control
Let’s take a closer look at the competitive advantages your facility or network can realize by adopting a uniform apparel program.
Brand Awareness is Important to Healthcare Consumers Too
Many patients have a choice when they go to the hospital or post-acute facility, and you can help ensure they know and remember your name. When your employees wear color-coded uniforms bearing your custom-embroidered logo, they create and maintain a lasting professional image for your hospital, health system or post-acute facility. They also reinforce your brand messages, whether they’re related to care quality, convenience, longevity, or innovation. If you’re a new organization, uniforms with your name and/or logo can contribute to your branding initiatives, both in your facility and when your employees are in the community.
Does This Person Belong in My Room?
Security is one of those issues that medical professionals rarely discuss, yet it is increasingly at the forefront of business operations for healthcare decision-makers. You want to your patients, residents and staff to feel as safe as possible, knowing that the right person is in the right place at the right time. Color-coded uniforms with a facility name or logo not only identify a care provider’s role and reason for entering a room, but also assure patients, families and other providers that these individuals are indeed on your team. Providing and receiving care should be top of mind for your professionals and patients respectively; no one should wonder if the person entering the room just walked in off the street!
Perception = Reality for Your Customers
It seems like a minor detail, but when your staff looks professional, your patients or residents respond positively. A uniform apparel program reassures your customers, and eliminates confusion in often stressful circumstances, building on the goodwill factor – and perhaps your Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores, too. Patient and resident experience surveys have found that when these people can easily identify staff members and their roles, and thus find communication easier, they give higher ratings to the care they receive. Satisfied customers will always be some of your most vocal advocates.
Put Money Back in Your Employees’ Pockets – and Yours
Supplying your employees with color-coded uniform apparel in a variety of styles and sizes is an excellent boost to their morale – and their budget. For example, our GroupOne® program offers three well-known brands: the workhorse Fundamentals® scrubs and uniform line, the soft and comfortable Jockey® Scrubs, and Meta® Labwear coats. Many hospital and post-acute facilities are purchasing one or more of these brands for their employees, so staff members don’t have to. Knowing they’ll be able to work in high-quality, stylish clothing gives them more stability (and one less expenditure) as care providers. This kind of program can help you recruit new staff, too. From a financial perspective, it enables you to better control costs by choosing the right ordering option for your facility, and tracking and managing your orders.
Infection Control has Moved to the Top of the List
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us first-hand how rapidly dangerous infections can spread from person to person, facility to facility, and workplace to home. It’s been a difficult lesson to learn, but healthcare providers are now more dedicated than ever to improving infection prevention and control (IPC) in their facilities.
Rebecca Love, RN, MSN, FIEL, president and co-founder of SONSIEL, the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders, sees uniform apparel as a key component to IPC programs going forward. “Uniform apparel initiatives remove the burden of stopping infection spread from your staff. Employees worry much less about carrying disease to their families, or becoming infected themselves. When clothing is provided and laundered by a healthcare facility, the rate of healthcare acquired infections goes down. It’s just smart public health policy, and contributes to our end goal of controlling infections of all kinds and stopping their spread.”
You Can Make It Happen, with the Right Uniform Apparel Partner
As the trend to adopt uniform apparel grows in hospitals and LTPAC facilities, it’s worth being selective in contracting with a top-notch distributor. Look for a collaborative, community-minded company with experience, quick turnaround times, adequate inventories, and a range of product, ordering and shipping options. You also want a partner who listens to healthcare workers and brings the most relevant products to market. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how a uniform apparel program will contribute to your success – and to a great experience for your patients or residents.