The patient experience is the sum of all interactions patients have with the NHS – including its staff, facilities and service. In recent years, people have begun to want more patient-centered care, at the exact same time hospitals have faced even tougher budgetary constraints. Those clashing demands means it’s vital that the NHS understands what matters most to patients and prioritizes the right things. And it’s also crucial the staff experience is optimised, as we’ve seen how the patient experience correlates with how NHS staff feel about their work.

In 2018, there was greater investment in a number of digital services such as social media presence and 24/7 hotlines. Looking into 2019, we expect technology to continue to transform healthcare, but practitioners will be demanding the use of real-time data to make informed decisions and take action. Below are five NHS patient experience trends we expect to see in 2019.

1. Consumerism continues to grow

Consumers are now empowered to ask questions rather than passively doing what is recommended. Health-related technology is also pushing consumer knowledge about health and wellness.

In addition, as the experience economy permeates every area of our lives, the NHS is being compared to other consumer experiences (eg Amazon or Apple) and it needs to figure out how to adapt. Improving patient experience is critical, and health systems will need to improve convenience, access, and overall patient service in order to survive

2. Demand for real-time feedback increases

Real-time feedback captured at every step of the patient journey is more important and relevant to improvement than comparisons to retrospective benchmarks— looking in the rearview mirror. The NHS needs data faster to allow hospitals to take action in the moment — potentially changing perceptions patients have of their practice or facility while still in care. Intercepting a potentially negative encounter and turning it around can have significant benefits on positive word-of-mouth and also patient outcomes. With the influx of online reviews, hospitals and GP surgeries must quickly address issues as they occur to ensure a more positive overall experience.

With feedback becoming a part of people’s everyday work, senior management need to help their staff understand how to turn feedback into real actions. It’s crucial that staff don’t feel as though they’re seeing problems, but not being given the solutions.

3. Combining X and O-data

Traditionally, operational metrics (O-data) such as safety events, clinical outcomes, bed occupancy or time in hospital have been analyzed separately from patient experience results. Going forward, the NHS needs to combine their O-data with experience data (X-data), such as patient experience and employee experience, to drive comprehensive improvement across a health system. The combination of X and O-data will help break down silos, improve quality, and encourage real change by providing a more holistic view of how these factors interact.

O-data describes “what” is happening and X data answers the question “why;” both components are needed to better identify and address the root causes underlying quality issues.

Much X-data comes in patient comments. Their open-text responses need to be categorized and analyzed quickly, but with AI-powered text analysis this doesn’t need to be a hard task. And using that technology can flag up issues in real-time, such as at-risk patients or poor staff behavior.

4. Technology will transform the healthcare experience

Technology is transforming the healthcare experience, from online chronic illness trackers to lifestyle apps. In fact, the market for health apps and wearable devices is expected to increase to £460 million by 2020. As people take charge of their personal health, they’ll use technology to assist them.

Healthcare providers are also utilising technology by capturing patient feedback through digital solutions, which will help care providers respond faster and more effectively to patient needs. Leveraging the healthcare digital transformation will help health systems better communicate, coordinate and deliver value to patients.

5. Transition from reactive to proactive

NHS care providers are transitioning from reactive care management to proactive health hubs, using their position in a community to proactively partner with community (social welfare) solutions like transportation companies, food sources and businesses to better manage the health of a population.

Social determinants of health (e.g. obesity, access to fitness facilities, crime rate) are critical to understanding what solutions are needed to address the underlying health needs of a community. Measuring population health expectations and comparing those to available resources will help identify the gaps that a health system will need to fill.

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