Working to deliver a great experience for patients is the practice and passion of most NHS organisations most of the time. However a significant minority of patients experience poor care that can have lasting effects for them, the staff and organisation involved. The NHS Confederation believes that placing patients at the heart of systems and processes is good for patients, good for staff, and delivers a wide range of benefits for the organisations involved.
What great patient experience looks like
- Compassion. Patients are treated with respect and kindness, the physical aspects of care are dignified (pain relief, food, clothing, environment) and thought is given to their emotional and spiritual needs
- Logistics/efficient process. For example patients' test results are accurate and on time and their operation and discharge process is timely and convenient
- Personalisation. Patients are involved in decisions about their care, they are given a choice where appropriate and communication with staff is good
- Physical environment. Surroundings are clean, accessible and pleasant
- Good clinical outcome. Care is safe and effective.
A range of case studies from NHS Confederation members on initiatives they are taking to delivery great patient experience are now available on our website.
Also see our report Feeling Better? Improving Patient Experience in Hospital for examples of whole organisational approaches to delivering excellent patient experience, both from the UK and the US (published on 6 January 2011).
Routinely delivering excellent patient experience is catalytic. Organisations that build systems and processes around the needs of their patients are likely to enjoy good clinical outcomes and high staff satisfaction (see work from the NHS Confederation, King's Fund and Studer Group). It’s suggested these can deliver value for money in the form of increased market share; lower staff turnover and absenteeism; quicker patient recovery; and higher productivity and efficiency.
What NHS organisations can do to develop consistently great patient experience
Systematically nurture patient feedback and develop processes that can translate that feedback into redesigned systems and processes that place patients at the centre of care. A concerted effort is needed to bring together feedback from patients at various points in the system, to process it and feed the messages back into the system in a considered way, for example:
- Patient stories at board meetings
- Formal complaints and PALS
- Patients' reports of their experiences, eg PROMS, real-time mechanisms such as Patient Experience Tracker or response boards on wards
- Choice - choosing to go elsewhere
- Patient experience based co-design
- Advocacy through patient groups.
Empower and inspire your staff. Develop a culture in which staff at all levels become leaders on patient experience. Leadership is needed to ensure that staff at all levels know that this is a corporate priority and an exciting opportunity to deliver the kind of care they wish to.
Performance manage for patient experience. Measure and then use that data meaningfully. This is key to transforming patient experience. There is a significant architecture that exists to strengthen the focus on quality and patient experience put in place by the Department of Health, that affects both commissioners and providers, including:
- requiring trusts to measure quality, including monitoring 'real time' patient feedback on experience
- including data from patient experience surveys in the 'vital signs' comprising the NHS Operating Framework and National Indicator Set for national and local use
- publishing the results of national patient surveys on the NHS Choices website
- introducing routine application of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMS)
- publishing quality indicators (metrics) as part of Quality Accounts
- rewarding high performance through Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN).
(Note: the above list is drawn from the King's Fund's Measures of patients' experience in hospital: purpose and methods 2009)
The NHS Confederation has been working with members to gather information on patient experience good practice and to analyse and disseminate it.
If you would like to share your work on patient experience with us, or have questions relating to existing case studies, please get in contact.