University of Oxford Green Templeton College HEXI Home Page Department of Primary Care Health Sciences

May 2016

Professor Louise Locock

Over the last 10-15 years the NHS has become a world leader in measuring patient experience, and a wealth of survey and feedback data has been amassed. In my own research group, we have collected over 3000 narrative interviews with patients about their experiences. But as the pile of survey findings and interview transcripts stacks up, we face a new problem: what to do with it all? We now know a huge amount, from quantitative and qualitative sources, about what matters to patients and what they think of their care, but the NHS in-patient survey shows remarkably little change in measurable patient experience. How can we better use these sources of patient experience data to improve care?

This question prompted the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme to issue a call for research proposals on using patient experience data for improvement. Several studies have been funded, including two in Oxford: US-PEx (understanding how frontline staff use patient experience data) and INQUIRE (Improving NHS Quality Using Internet Ratings and Experiences). We will hear more about INQUIRE in future. This post focuses on US-PEx.

US-PEx is a collaboration between the University of Oxford, the Picker Institute, NHS England. We also have a lay co-investigator and a senior nurse on the research team. The study aims to improve our understanding of how frontline staff use different types of patient experience data for quality improvement; what motivates them to get involved in improvement; what helps or hinders; & what can be done to make patient experience data more convincing, credible & practically useful. These are our main research questions.

To help us provide answers, we plan to work with 6 frontline medical ward teams as case studies, supporting them to plan how to use patient experience data for improvement & then observing what happens.

Frontline medical ward teams (with patient members) from each site will join a 'learning community', to learn what we know about how to use patient experience data for improvement. Teams will then decide what topic to work on & design & implement their own interventions. We will observe & analyse what happens, using interviews, documentary analysis & on-site observation. We will also complete a baseline & follow-up survey of medical patients from each site. We will discuss emerging findings during the study with the frontline teams so they can adapt & improve what they do, & provide ongoing opportunities to discuss progress.

From our analysis, we will develop a practical toolkit for the NHS on strategies for making patient experience data more convincing, credible & useful for frontline teams (& the likely organisational conditions for successful implementation) as well as how to involve patients & families in the process.

We will share the guide online & through NHS England so other hospitals can learn from the results

The research will run for 27 months, completing in early 2018.

The programme presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Health Services and Delivery Research funding scheme (14/156/06). The views expressed in this press release are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

Professor Louise Locock is an Associate Professor and Director of Applied Research, Health Experiences Research Group, and Health Experiences Fellow, Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre


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