Welcome to the blog if this is your first and I hope you find it thought provoking. I’ve had a month free of writing and enjoyed summer reflections.
One of the best experiences was sitting at a marketplace cafe in Stamford, on the Side to Side Cycle across Britain (on a tandem from west to east). A couple sat down opposite and started chatting – live near Bourne, but don’t often go into the town, only to the doctor’s, have a serious condition…
Bourne Galletly is a practice we have worked with and they were overflowing with praise for it. The whole practice so caring, doctors so good, called back within minutes, any time, often just need a word. Such a contrast, the lady went on, to her friend, who has suffered a rasping cough for three weeks and been unable to get an appointment. We made a video of Bourne last year, but it means so much to hear this by chance from a patient. It makes everything worthwhile for me.
Last week I was hearing from Professor Niro Siriwardena about a study to understand the drivers of patient satisfaction, beyond a simple one to five scale, and look at what features matter. Guess what, the most important expectation for all age groups was “ease of getting an appointment”. Yet sadly and predictably, when they looked at what actually happens, this is the worst feature.
Earlier last month I took part in a workshop on measures in primary care. It’s easy to get too complicated with long questionnaires, sample rates, biases, focus groups and so on. A few simple things really matter, and the first is how long does it take to get help from the doctor? It’s measurable, without asking patients, and that’s what we should be doing, everywhere.
Measuring it doesn’t change it, but it does focus attention and if they can summon the courage, that’s what makes people creative.
Here’s a question: our evidence shows that two thirds of the patients seeking your help neither want nor need to see you face to face. But how do you determine, safely and efficiently, which ones?