In a Department of Health Statement on May 17, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Knowledge of patient experience is essential for understanding how best to improve care. I don’t intend to be locked away in an ivory tower. That’s why in addition to my other duties I will routinely read and respond personally to a random selection of letters from members of the public.” 

Following on from Lord Darzi’s review High Quality Care for All, patient experience is firmly on the agenda and from statements like the one above, looks like it is going to remain a key priority for some time.

Isn’t that what we all want to do – deliver a world-class patient experience? But it isn’t that simple. Firstly what is world-class patient experience, what does it look like for different organisations and departments, how can we go about implementing and monitoring ‘it’, how do we train up staff and who can we talk to for help? All, presumably, without spending any money.

These are some of the reasons for the development of the Patient Experience Network.  PEN is an independent not for profit company founded with the aim of helping all healthcare organisations - not just NHS - to go about improving the patient experience. 

PEN starts from the position that although there is clearly work to be done, there are already some great initiatives and examples of world-class patient experience and service in the UK. A key focus for PEN is about identifying, recognising/ celebrating and sharing these examples with as wide an audience as possible.

Our vision is that PEN helps to create a groundswell movement where everyone working in healthcare feels inspired and enabled to constantly challenge and improve the experience they provide in conjunction with their patients.

Tools and resources have been and will be developed along the following priorities:

  • Recognition/ Awards
  • Best practice/ Case studies
  • Networking/ Collaboration
  • Thought leadership/ accredited-learning
  • Benchmarking
  • Commercial services and links

Recognition:

One of the key reasons for creating the Patient Experience Network was to recognise some of the great examples of service experience and individual contributions that are already happening throughout the NHS and other health organisations in the UK.

We want to help celebrate and share great examples of team/ organisational patient experience initiatives, but also create the opportunity for individuals to be recognised when they go the extra mile. To that end we have created the Patient Experience Network National Awards.

Best practice:

Successful entries will be published on PEN as case studies to enable sharing of ideas and best practices. You will already find links to various initiatives on the website. These are real and practical examples from the UK where teams have identified an area for improvement of patient experience and developed an appropriate initiative. 

Networking/ collaboration:

We have also created a discussion group dedicated to patient experience, where you can raise and debate issues, make contact with others interested in patient experience and generally share ideas and collaborate towards spreading improvements in patient experience. There will also be advisors from PEN who may be able to contribute to discussions using their expertise in customer and patient experience should it be appropriate.

Thought leadership/ accredited-learning:

PEN is not about ‘experts’ providing theoretical advice on patient experience – rather finding ways to share real expertise from the sharp end within healthcare. We will however look for ways in which we think we can provide further support. For example we are already piloting the first tutor led e-learning course in patient experience. 

We are also conducting a survey with chief executives and boards into their attitudes and perceptions of patient experience and aims to answer the question: How can Customer Service/ Patient Experience contribute to a revolution of the world’s largest service industry?

Benchmarking:

PEN has developed PexCheck that should enable you to know how your organisation compares with others on widely accepted prerequisites for delivering great customer and patient experience You will also find a self-analysis exercise to help you assess how patient/ customer experience focussed you are as an individual.