Improving Patient Experience in Hospitals: How Far Have We Come?

4 Minute Read

The desire to improve patient experience in hospitals isn’t a new concept. While researching, we’ve found articles, blogs and suggestions from the last 10 years that were offered by medical staff, private businesses and the NHS. So, how far have we come? What’s changed and what still needs to happen? 


Patient Experience: An Ongoing Issue

In 2011, the NHS Confederation released its insights and thoughts on the challenge of improving patient experience. Even at that time, they were aware that something had to be done to address the feedback the NHS was receiving from patients, staff and visitors. 


The document hinted that the NHS had previously not done enough when it came to paying attention to some fundamental aspects of care. Progress was slow, the number of people who rated their experience as “excellent” did increase, but only very slightly and there were questions surrounding patient and visitor involvement. 


It was felt that the valuable insights of these groups weren’t being taken seriously enough when it came to reshaping services. 


It considered successful examples from both the UK and further afield, concluding that the key themes running throughout focused on patient engagement, transformational leadership and emphasis on collating feedback.


What’s Changed?

The most recent survey results from the CQC give us a good idea of how much, or how little, things have improved in UK hospitals for patients. Adult inpatients were asked to score their overall experience after a stay in hospital on a scale of one to ten. 


48% of patients asked responded with either a nine or a ten. This was a small decrease from the previous year (50%) but was still above the 44% score that patients gave in 2012, the year after the NHS confederation released their document on patient experience. So, things have improved, albeit only slightly. 


Interestingly, the survey found that patients aged 16-35 were far more likely to offer a poor score than patients aged over 66. Despite the NHS having to cope with an ageing population, it still has to consider the needs of younger patients. 


One of the key takeaways from these results is that some of the complaints that patients have expressed over the years have yet to truly be addressed. 


The Measures That are Being Put into Place

The NHS’ patient experience framework suggests that Trusts focus on leadership, organisational culture, feedback, analysis and reporting to understand where improvements should be made. 


All Trusts work to this framework, implementing solutions and reshaping services with the intention of improving patient experience in hospitals. All of them are committed to “putting the patient at the centre of everything we do” but the means they use to accomplish this are up to each individual Trust. 


Look at any of the relevant material from Trusts and you’ll see that they have plans in place to improve engagement through feedback, design new services that meet changing needs and provide educational content so that patients and their families understand the care they’re receiving. 


What Can Trusts Do?

It’s clear that patient experience is as much of an issue now as it was in 2011 and even before then. Trusts are in the almost impossible position of finding improvements that follow the above framework while managing a budget that’s stretched incredibly thin. 


It’s always been difficult to implement change in the healthcare industry because of the financial constraints and red tape. For the best chance of success, an innovation needs to improve patient experience, be financially viable and target a common complaint that patients, visitors and staff have. 


Patient Entertainment Systems

One of the biggest issues that patients often have while in hospital concerns their bedside entertainment system. Many patients have to deal with outdated models that are expensive to use. These legacy systems were a vast improvement on what was available before, in the early 2000s, but they just aren’t suitable for today’s modern patient. Especially when we consider how the 16-35 group responded in the 2018 survey. 


Introducing innovative systems would target this group’s complaints. They’re accustomed to public WiFi, content streaming and smart devices. With a more advanced platform, they’re able to browse the internet, watch the latest television shows and even order their meals at the touch of a button. 


Significantly, these systems can be used to collate the valuable feedback that’s such a key part of the NHS’ framework. Surveys, completed online via the systems, give Trusts the information they need to shape services in a more effective way in the future. 


For a detailed look at the innovative system we have available for Trusts, take a look at our healthcare-specific pack.


 Healthcare Pack


Many of the issues that patients experienced in 2011 are still commonplace today. What’s important is that the NHS, CQC and Trusts are having the vital conversation about patient experience. 


Why Your Trust Needs to Replace Legacy Systems

Everybody should be able to use services from their computer, tablet or phone if they want to. The existing patient entertainment systems that many hospitals use are outdated, awkward and expensive for patients to use.


To see how they compare to our modern alternative, make sure to download our free comparison eBook today. It outlines exactly how they can improve patient experience while also reducing costs. 


SPARK Media vs Healthcare legacy systems


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