Here at the Strategy Unit we have been working with GP practices in Dudley for the last three years to support service improvement in Primary Care. As part of this programme (EPIC), the team promotes the use of the GP Patient Survey data to practices to better understand patient experience, to support service improvements and to assess the impact of their improvements.
The GP Patient Survey data was identified as relevant to the practices because it reflects the experience of the practice’s own patients and covers a range of issues that matter to patients. It was felt that the GP Patient Survey data is the highest quality, most objective data source that practices have access to, and provides an ability to track service improvements with patient experience as data is updated each year. EPIC general practices were already aware of the importance of incorporating patient experience to improve service quality but weren’t previously making active use of the GP Patient Survey data.
The EPIC programme has supported them to do that as part of an approach to service improvement and change which addresses patient experience, staff experience, and productivity. Involvement of Patient Participation Groups as part of EPIC discussions has led the practice staff to be mindful that other sources of data are also available to the practice: these include processes for patient feedback after appointments, Friends & Family Test and NHS Choices comments, all of which can support more specific or rapid assessments of patient experience.
Involvement of Patient Participation Groups as part of EPIC discussions has led the practice staff to be mindful that other sources of data are also available to the practice: these include processes for patient feedback after appointments, Friends & Family Test and NHS Choices comments, all of which can support more specific or rapid assessments of patient experience.
In the EPIC programme, the GP patient survey data is combined with other practice data collected for avoidable appointments, prescriptions processes, document management and measures of staff experience, both pre- and post- service improvement.
Together the data help the practice to identify and measure changes that would contribute the most to achieving improvements.
Further support allows practice teams to agree on, invest in, and follow through, changes in the practice to benefit patients and staff. All the practices we work with now recognise the benefits of using data to highlight ‘what are we doing well’ and ‘what are we not doing so well’ before designing improvements.
The practices examining their GP Patient Survey data felt the findings reflected what they also saw as their strengths and weaknesses and found it reassuring that these were the areas they were addressing.
For one practice, the GP Patient Survey data confirmed what they thought, that work was needed on improving waiting times. What they did not anticipate was how clearly the survey showed the satisfaction levels for the time with clinicians. It also highlighted that 50% of respondents were not aware of the online options for accessing the GP services. As a result the practice is now promoting the online service and encouraging uptake, to make access easier for patients. The practice manager is; “keen to see next year’s results and see if there will be a noticeable change in patient experience and if more people are completing the survey.”
The current practices are eagerly awaiting the results of the 2017 GP Patient Survey to see if the improvements they are making have had a measurable impact.