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Instant patient feedback improves care

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Hand-held devices that allow patients to give instant feedback on their care can lead to significant improvements in services, evidence has shown

Patient experience tracker (PET) tools – electronic devices programmed with five simple questions – can be used by patients to let staff know how they rated their health-care experience.

Questions can be tailored to suit different care settings, and data is captured and analysed in real time.

Health secretary Alan Johnson ‘asked’ every hospital trust in September 2008 to collect immediate feedback from patients on their experience of care. He said that he wanted trusts to do this ‘over the next year’, suggesting that they have until this autumn to comply.

Additionally, the NHS Next Stage Review states that the compassion, dignity and respect with which patients are treated ‘can only be improved by analysing and understanding patient satisfaction with their own experiences’.

PET tools are used by 66 NHS organisations across England, including 40 acute trusts. In 2008, nearly 1.5 million patient responses were collected via PET across the NHS.

Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been using PET tools for two years. Last September, responses from PET tools revealed that only 33% of patients on the rehabilitation ward had their call bell answered within one minute.

This information was fed back to staff and, when the patients used the PET tool again a month later, this figure had risen to 64%. Ealing PCT in West London – which has been using the system for a year – used information gathered from PET tools to improve communication between parents and staff in children’s services.

Following changes implemented as a result of PET responses, over 90% of parents said they felt better informed about the reasons for delays in children’s services.

Jennie Negus, deputy director of nursing and PET project lead at the Homerton, said: ‘PET tools are about driving and managing change. It isn’t just about collecting data and letting it sit in an email somewhere. It is about feeding back on that data, publicising it and working on actions to improve.’

Addressing a conference by Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Dr Foster Intelligence, she said: ‘It has to be integrated into daily life, rather than just being an added extra. Engaging staff from the outset and agreeing as a team how it will be implemented will make a big difference to its success.’

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