Radiographers Louise Harding and Paula Park from Warrington and Halton Hospitals share how they worked with people using their service to understand what matters and improve their experience when attending their busy Radiology department….
A visit to a diagnostic imaging department can be a frequent and essential part of our patients care and experience: but does this experience matter to our patients? What is “patient experience”? Is it influenced by expectations or by previous experiences, which can be further influenced by the way we greet them, answer the telephone or explain a procedure? Is it just the really good or bad experiences that are remembered? There is no question that we all experience things slightly differently for all sorts of reasons, so maybe the best way of considering patient experience is to ask them what does the service we provide and the care we give “really feel like”. But how do we measure and implement changes that impact positively upon the experiences that matter to our patients within our departments?
Our involvement with an innovative patient experience quality improvement project known as Always Events® began in November 2017, when we attended our first Always Events® workshop. We quickly realised that this quality improvement tool was exactly what we were looking for. It was a proven methodology using co-design with a patient centred approach. After attending an Always Events® cohort in Leeds in early 2018, we returned enthused and inspired to begin our patient experience journey.
Improving experience is about working with the people who use our services to make those services better. Only when we truly engage with our patients, by listening to them and trying to understand what matters to them, are we able to implement changes that are meaningful to their experiences. Meeting everyone’s expectations is a challenge, but should not be considered an impossible one.
In busy departments, we often struggle to find the time to talk to or really listen to our patients. We implement organisational or national policies and procedures to help us develop services, but do we really know if this is what our patients find important? Patients judge their experience by the way they are treated. Being kept informed and listened to are as important to them as the effectiveness of their treatments and safety. By involving patients and engaging with staff who work within the system, we can use informed and lived experience to encourage change and influence improvement to make services and individual experiences better.
The Always Events® quality improvement methodology has been rolled out to a wide range of healthcare settings by NHS England in partnership with IHI and is defined as “aspects of patient’s experience that are so important to patients and their families that health care providers must aim to perform them consistently for every individual, every time”. It starts by asking our patients the simple question “what matters to you?” and then through coproduction, works out a way to achieve this.
Following the Always Events® toolkit (available on line from: https://www.england.nhs.uk/always-events/), we can implement changes that ensure that “what matters to our patients” is central to quality improvements and delivers positive patient experiences and sustainable improvement for everyone. Patients often come up with the ideas that can simply and cheaply improve our service and their experience. It is a win, win methodology!
Never underestimate the huge difference you can make for your patients by simply involving them. Utilising Always Events® methodology provides us with the opportunity to shape our future services and development within our departments and hospitals. Small changes can lead to great improvements.
If you would like to know more about Always Events® and how we embraced change within our Radiology department at Warrington and Halton Hospitals (WHH), please follow the link below:
Thank you for reading our blog…..Louise Harding (Clinical Tutor and Reporting Radiographer) and Paula Park (Clinical Lead and Reporting Radiographer.