Our vision: to transform access to medical care.

Measure what matters

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?

4 responses to “Measure what matters”

  1. Dr Ethie Kong says:

    Effective safe triage – clinical and non clinical with clear signposting. General practices need to invest more on our receptionists who are at the front facing patients and carers, and who speak to patients and carers on the phone. All singing from the same hymn sheet- consistent messages and communication.
    Understanding one’s demographics. What works in one area might not worked in another area.

  2. Alan Arnett says:

    Good points Harry. Although the study highlights “ease of getting an appointment”, the underlying psychology, which we can all understand, is that as patients with a problem what we really want is to be sure what is causing our symptoms and to get professional advice i.e. to get past the worrying uncertainty and closer to solving or mitigating the problem. We ask for an appointment, but actually we are asking for help, and that can come in a variety of ways now. If we can get help when we don’t need a ftf appointment, knowing it helps us get a ftf appointment faster when we really need one, we’ll all be as happy as the patients and staff in Bourne 🙂

  3. Krishna Kant chaturvedi says:

    Thanks and glad to be able to contribute .Face to face consultation is not always necessary .Pne can manage may consultation with sky ping or other devices as long as you have a good Repport with you .That is where Solo practioner have done better because of good relationship and importantly continuity which. Patients and carer like and find services personalised .In our ccg in Southend most of solo practices have much higher satisfaction rate on national independent survey .

  4. Jeanne McComasky says:

    It is such a dilemma when triaging via telephone but with fully trained and supported practice nurses the risks Dan be managed

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