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Why this guide?

In any healthcare service, however excellent, there are always stumbling blocks that, if removed, could make the experience less stressful for patients and staff alike. In the current economic environment, patient experience quality improvement can be seen as a ‘nice to have’. But it is a priority for the NHS. Quality improvement that draws on accurate data can help improve working environments, boosting morale and giving staff the confidence to know that their patients have what they need.

It’s really good to be part of the multi-disciplinary team. If everybody does one little thing, the process becomes a whole and then everybody’s happy.

John Acklam
Senior nursing assistant, University College London Hospital

Healthcare organisations run quality improvement projects aimed at improving patient experience. But many still fail to use what patients themselves say as a starting point, drawing instead on staff assumptions about what is needed.

This guide introduces different types of patient experience data and explains how to use them for quality improvement. It shows that while patient-centred healthcare improvement can be both complex and time consuming, it does not have to be.

Our study findings

Key study findings included the following:

  • Staff draw on many sources of patient experience data.
  • As well as survey data, narratives and observations can be really useful, but are sometimes harder to work with.
  • Daily interactions with patients and informal staff observations are important but under-recognised as a source of ideas about improvement.
  • Good staff experience can help improve patient experience.
  • Getting involved in patient-centred quality improvement can in itself inspire and motivate staff.
  • Teams that involve a range of staff can find it easier to draw together the resources and skills they need.
  • Working closely with a member of the patient experience team can make all the difference.

The guide gives a tour of the data and quality improvement methods that healthcare staff can use. It also showcases clinical teams around the country who have been running their own health improvement projects, talking frankly about the methods they used, what worked well and practical real-life tips and learning about what they’d do differently and pitfalls to avoid.

It includes:

  • information about gathering patient experience data and using data from existing sources
  • quality improvement methods
  • case studies showing the journeys of our test teams that have run QI projects drawing on patient experience data
  • quotes from healthcare staff who been experimenting with different types of data
  • films of healthcare staff explaining what they found useful
  • tips from researchers who observed teams carrying out the method
  • links to online resources and materials.

The guide is designed to inspire you to carry out your own quality improvement projects, drawing on the learning of our test groups. You can dip into it to pick and choose the right elements, to help you and your colleagues design your own project.

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