Making care better in Addenbrooke's Outpatients' Department
"What's the point in telling you about my experience? It won't make any difference."
We hear this sort of thing a lot and can understand people's cynicism; after all, we have an office full of cynics. But we believe that most of the time, most of the people who are providing care to you and the people who are important to you, want to do the best job they can. Knowing what is or isn't working, really helps them to do this.
Of course, it won't solve the problems like "how do we pay for all this care with only this much cash?" but it can help health and care planners think about things from your point of view.
Earlier this month, we had a welcome email from Andi Thornton, the Outpatient Services Operations Manager at Addenbrooke's Hospital. He wanted to let us know about the improvements they have made in the Outpatients' Department, since we visited them last year.
We spoke to more than 200 people in three different clinics, staying in each of the clinics for a whole day. After the visits, we wrote three reports with a number of recommendations to improve care. This was something the hospital asked us to help them with as they were having particular problems within some of these clinics at that time.
We made a number of suggestions to improve care in the clinics, including:
- Reduce waiting times for first appointments and improve the booking in procedure.
- Make sure appointment information is clear for patients and provided in a way that suits them.
- Make sure people can contact the clinic easily if they need to.
- Make sure signage to clinics is clear and consistent.
This is the difference 200+ voices made:
- There is now a dedicated outpatients’ helpline which the hospital plans to roll-out to all Outpatients within the next couple of months. This will mean patients and carers will have one contact number for appointments, rather than the multiple numbers currently in place.
- Appointment letters are now written in a larger font with essential appointment information in bold text.
- Text message reminders are sent to patients who want to get them. The hospital are looking to see if they can update this to let people reply by text to say if they are going to their appointment or not.
- A new reception desk will be placed in the Outpatients' main entrance. This will include a dedicated volunteer guide station as well as a fully trained receptionist, to help people find their way to the different clinics.
- The hospital have re-newed signage within Outpatients in line with visual impairment guidance. For example, signs to ophthalmology use high contrast yellow/black signage. They are also in the process of implementing a smart phone app which will help guide patients to the appropriate location using either larger font on their smart phone or audio.
Andi also said, "..following the recent CQC inspection where we received 'good' as a rating, we had made significant improvements to the patient experience across outpatients. We acknowledge we still have some distance to go and we remain committed to providing a high-quality patient experience throughout the visit to complement the high quality clinical care provided to all patients."
The hospital is also trialling 'MyChart', which lets patients see their medical records and appointment information at an electronic patient portal. There are just 259 patients signed up in very select patient group at the moment to help test it. Patient feedback to date is very positive.
If you have visited an Outpatient clinic at Addenbrooke's in the last six months, please do share your story with us. How long did you wait for an appointment? Did you get the information you needed about your appointment in a format that was easy to read and understand? What was your experience of the clinic like on the day?
You may also be interested in:
- 24/03/2017 Out of Hours' base to move to Addenbrooke's
- 02/03/2017 The State of Care in NHS acute hospitals - focus on Cambridgeshire
- 28/02/2017 Healthwatch report finds caring staff at Addenbrooke’s A&E