What are they?
Patient experience surveys usually ask patients to complete specific questions in regards to their most recent healthcare experience. Surveys can be carried out by post, telephone, online or electronically with hand-held and other devices.
As part of the NHS Contract arrangements for 2012/13, service providers are required to “engage, liaise and communicate” with patients and their carers. They will be contractually obliged to carry out patient surveys, review the responses received, identify and implement actions where possible.
Furthermore, the GMC’s revalidation process, will also require doctors to demonstrate that they have encouraged patients to provide feedback about the medical care that they have received as part of their annual appraisal.
There are a range of tried-and-tested questionnaires as well as guidance in compiling a specific local survey that is available to NHS organisations, developed by the National Patient Survey Programme on behalf of the Care Quality Commission.
Dermatology departments may wish to adapt existing surveys to target specific groups of patients and develop their own bespoke survey question and response options. However in doing so, they need to consider the following:
Questions should be developed with patients and staff before they are used to ensure they are appropriate.
Conduct a pilot before starting an official patient survey exercise. This will help in understanding whether the questions are working as intended and are clear and unambiguous.
Benefits of patient surveys
Patient surveys will allow dermatology departments to:
Track the experience of your patients over different intervals of time. Regularly repeating the same type of survey enables changes over time to be monitored and performance compared.
Understanding and sharing findings
Patients are asked to complete specific factual questions relating to their most recent healthcare experience. This would provide dermatology departments with an indication of what changes are required to improve patient experience and the care that they receive.
It is therefore important that the results and what you are proposing to do with them are shared with the following groups:
Dermatology staff at all levels (clinical and support roles)
Senior trust management
Public, patients and their carers
Local community and voluntary groups
Local authorities and commissioners