Why capture patient feedback on healthcare services?

Here at Cemplicity, we specialise in helping healthcare organisations capture and use robust, actionable patient reported measures. We deliver simple service transformation programmes for small community providers, as well as large-scale, government led integrated care improvement projects. But how do we know capturing patient feedback has an impact?

Are patient experience and clinical outcomes correlated?

First, significant literature exists to support the impact of patient feedback on clinical outcomes and service efficiencies.

A study by the Imperial College London, published in the BMJ in 2013, explored the link between patient experience, clinical safety and clinical outcomes to find out if they are genuinely correlated [1]. The study found positive patient experience is correlated with an increase in:

  • Adherence to medication and recommended clinical practice
  • Health promoting behaviour
  • Use of preventative services such as screening and immunisation services

Improving these three factors led to improved clinical outcomes. It also resulted in reduced cost of care – due to reduced length of stay, readmissions and primary care burden.

Another study into the role of patient experiences and healthcare quality, published in the USA journal Medical Care Research and Review in 2014, concludes better patient care experiences are associated with higher levels of adherence, better clinical outcomes, patient safety culture and less healthcare utilisation [2].

How do the studies’ findings play out in reality?

Many real-world examples prove the Imperial College London study’s findings correct.

Reduced admissions and length of stay meant savings of more than £120,000 for Manchester’s Community health nursing home improvement programme. It did this by providing better and more integrated patient centric care in the home, according to a blog by The Health Foundation [3].

Using approaches such as this to provide more integrated care for ‘high-risk’ groups could generate productivity gains of £1.2–2bn by 2021, according to national estimates. In New Zealand, the Cemplicity national primary care programme aims to do just this. It measures healthcare service integration (from primary through to tertiary care) across every primary care practice in the country. This gives the Ministry of Health an invaluable picture of where, and for whom, service integration is failing.

It is difficult to separate out what came first, improved patient experience or improved outcomes. Regardless, if nothing else, you can at least be confident that improving patient experience does not come with a huge price tag. And at the end of the day, if you don’t measure it, how do you know if it is working?

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