Patient's perspective of current service
Stakeholder and user involvement
We heard earlier that stakeholder involvement is important for the success of your innovation project. We also examined some tried and tested techniques to help you identify your potential stakeholders. Here and in the following step we will look at some techniques to help you engage stakeholders and gather their views.
We will begin by examining techniques used to investigate the patient’s perspective.
As patients directly experience our healthcare services first hand they often have a unique perspective that staff don’t necessarily experience. For this reason, the patient input into measuring the current service and designing new services can be invaluable.
Shadowing a patient/service user
To gain a patient’s perspective, you can shadow a patient on their patient journey. Ideally you should ask a colleague who is not familiar with the normal patient journey. Using this technique, an observer can record the patient’s movement, the time spent and the patient’s perceptions of the service.
Before shadowing the patient however you should think about:
- Your aims and what information you are trying to gather.
- Why this process is important to the patient’s journey.
- Have a form to capture key times, for example the time the patient arrived in the department.
Whilst you shadow a patient
- Make sure colleagues, and patients, know that the presence of a colleague shadowing the patient will not influence the care the patient receives.
- Observe how the patient is treated by the healthcare team
- Watch how difficult it is for the patient to navigate their way around the department and hospital.
Also, don’t forget, if you are shadowing a patient, you will need to obtain their consent to do so. You may also have to apply for formal approval, for example from an Ethics Committee. If in doubt, you should seek the advice of the appropriate Research Office.
And finally, make sure you thank the patient and observer for their time. In addition, you may wish to agree with the patient how you could share the results with them. Sharing the results helps the patient feel their views have been listened to. It also helps you, the innovator, check the accuracy of the record.
Remember that if you are working in a laboratory medicine discipline there are well established audit techniques that use this approach. The approach described above is similar to the vertical audit technique where path of a sample through a laboratory is followed and each stage of the journey logged, included key time and events along the sample journey.
Use the comments section to reflect on whether your proposed innovation involves the patient journey. Explain how you need to follow the patient through the steps involved in your innovation.