The need for patient-reported experience measures

Consumer healthcare culture has resulted in the development of numerous patient evaluation tools and questionnaire after questionnaire about health status, standards of care and satisfaction with service delivery. Yet while we take great care in planning and delivering individualised patient-centred care, it is odd that we expect all patients to use the same generic evaluation tools regardless of age or healthcare needs.

The 2010 white paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS highlighted the importance of capturing patients’ experiences. Developing patient-reported experience measures (PREMs) specific to disease or age groups is an important move away from the use of generic patient satisfaction questionnaires. PREMs can be used to assess the patient journey and benchmark care and service provision. This is particularly relevant when considering the experiences of older people who may have complex healthcare needs. For example, is it more important for older patients to be seen quickly in clinic or seen by the same member of the team each time?

Developing PREMs in our own departments will ensure there is appropriate evaluation of aspects of care that truly affect patients. Creating valid and reliable PREMs specific to department, disease or age will make patients central to quality improvements in care.

If we do not engage patients to identify their experience measures, evaluations will continue to be generically applied across different specialties, age groups and healthcare needs. The first step is simply to talk to patients frankly and identify the aspects of their healthcare experience that are important to them. From this, common themes can be identified, PREMs created and a new era of patient involvement and focused service evaluation initiated.

About the author

Jennie Walker is clinical educator for musculoskeletal and neurosciences, Queen’s Medical Centre.

The May 2015 issue of Nursing Older People will feature her article on 'Diagnosis and management of patients with hypercalcaemia'.