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Why do we measure patient experience?

Watch Dan Wellings explore what patient experience is and why it matters in the NHS.
Patient experience is something we talk a lot about in the NHS and really, it’s a relatively simple concept. It’s the idea of not just, did you feel better but actually how were you treated? We measure this in lots of different ways. It’s about whether people felt they were treated with dignity and respect. Did people feel they were involved in decisions about them? How long did they have to wait? And our patient experience is across all areas of NHS whether it be the GP, whether it be with hospital care and also, we measure care in other settings, for example, in mental health settings. So really patient experience, at its core, was what was your interaction like with the service?
Patient experience is measured in lots of different ways and it can be as simple as patients telling the story of how they were treated and that’s a really important way of us understanding what worked well and what we could improve. There’s lots of ways, there’s big surveys which allow us to determine, well who’s treating people well, who’s treating them less well and what needs to be improved.
And also there’s lots of new ways of doing this, so people are going online, posting reviews of their care and all of these ways, they give us different things to work on and the most important thing with all of them is that we listen to what they tell us and try and improve where we can. PROMs, as opposed to patient experience, is a slightly different thing. So PROMs stands for Patient Reported Outcome Measures and really, it’s a very simple concept at heart, which is rather than just thinking, did doctors think you’re better, it’s just asking patients themselves. We’ve done this, has this made a difference?
Has it improved your quality of life and are you feeling better as a result of it? So, its slightly different from experience, which is much more around that interaction, how people spoke to you. This is more asking patients themselves, rather than clinicians judging it, did you feel better? The health service measures how it performs in lots of different ways, but ultimately, it is a service and there are patients and users and so, we could be doing lots of really good work but actually people’s experience of the service matters and that’s what’s important. It’s why we have all these different ways of measuring. It’s a service in the end, it has users and we need to hear from them.
So there are lots of large-scale surveys of patient experience which ask up to over a million people a year how the health service is performing. And for the most part actually people’s experience is relatively good. What’s interesting is when you look at the variation, by that we mean what is the difference between different providers? And that gives us a real insight into when there’s really good performance, and when there’s less good performance. And actually what’s been interesting on the patient experience surveys over the last few years, is that at a time of significant pressure on the service, actually for the most part, patient experience has been holding up relatively well.

In the previous step, you explored some of the ways that patient experience is measured. But why is it so important?

In this video, Dan Wellings, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, explores the role of patient experience in the NHS and why it matters.

Why do you think measuring patient experience is important? What would a health service look like if it didn’t measure patient experience?

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The NHS Explained: How the Health System in England Really Works

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