What does the survey tell us?
The survey is a small sample of our patient population but none the less it does appear to be representative with a slightly greater proportion of females. There is a normal distribution of ages with the bulks being between 45 and 65 (over 50%).
Generally it is fairly easy to get through on the phone and very easy to speak to a doctor. Most have not tried to speak to a nurse on the phone or to try to get test results by this method either. The experience most patients have when they contact the doctor is very good.
They felt the doctors gave enough time, asked about symptoms, listened, explained tests and treatments, involved patients in decisions about their care, treated patients with care and concern and took their problems seriously. Having said that there were occasions when this was not met and there could be room for improvement.
Nurses fared well too with patients feeling they had ample time with the nurse and treated with care and concern and taking their problems seriously. They were good at asking about their symptoms, listening and explaining tests and treatments. Almost a third felt they and been involved in decisions about their care but almost an equivalent amount also did not think this applied to them.
Patients felt the receptionists on the whole were helpful on the phone and almost as helpful when they saw them in person.
More than 4/5 of the survey sample had access to their records which suggests this group were more internet savvy and hence used to filling out questionnaires within an online service. The majority were used to receiving text messages, email and a small minority (almost 20% of the surgery sample) had been on facebook with a much smaller grow on twitter or even LinkedIn. Interestingly very few (3.6%) had not been on any internet social media platform. This really shows how much social media is now penetrating into people's lives and in so doing enabling their voice to be heard.
1/3 of the patients liked the idea of using an app to do their transactional services including sending secure messages online and texting although the majority preferred email as a way of communicating, Interestingly, a quarter had no desire to use any electronic means of communication. It is not clear how many of those had completed paper copies of the questionnaire.
Almost half the respondents were keen to be contacted re the PPG with a slight majority asking for meetings to take place in the evening rather than during the day. However very few wanted to attend events and less than 10% wanting to join the PPG.
Finally almost 80% would recommend the practice to others to join it with less than 5% saying definitely not.
So what have we done about the survey ?
The interim findings were presented to Thornley House PPG on 30th January. In general patients were pleased about the results and in particular the very strong feeling that the doctors seemed to be recognised for their caring approach to patients. It was also good to see strong support for the nurses and reception staff who often work tirelessly and with little recognition of the challenges they sometimes face with difficult patients or clinicians not running to time. This was particularly heart felt given the extreme pressures they have had with the telephone systems which has led to a significant increase in workload. The patients also felt the findings reflected their own personal experiences too.
Following the results of the survey, we did in fact have a meeting on setting up Facebook and Twitter. You can see what happened here
. Later we launched the new look practice website
page and twitter
(@htmc0) simultaneously on 16th February with aplomb and thanks to a number of patients who rallied around us to support the initiative.
Our biggest weakness remains getting through on the phone despite all our staff trying to deal with as many calls as quickly as possible whilst remaining courteous at all times too. We are hoping this year we will significantly increase the number of patients using online services, booking appointments online and sending secure electronic messages and many more accessing their records online. This should lead to a reduction on reliance on the phone for those with urgent need for help and assistance rather than what happens currently where everybody is phoning the front desk to be triaged. It is also good to see many patients wishing to use apps on their smartphones or tablet PCs. This is likely to grow in the coming months and years as more people start doing things online rather than face to face or even telephone based. We have plans on introducing further online services in the coming months which could also help to take pressure off the front desk particularly in the morning when the surgery feels more like a call centre than a GP surgery!
It is great to see so many patients interested in joining the PPG. They are a very important asset to the practice, staff and the population we serve. Having a strong and diverse PPG that represents in some small way the population will help to ensure we deliver services and support patients in a way that means they get the best outcomes with the very meagre resources we have at our disposal. The patients on the other hand are our greatest resource and if we can help to empower them and those whom they care for, we could find the limited resources the surgery has are targeted to those with the greatest need or those who are unable to look after themselves. It is great to see a number of new patients wishing to come forwards and join the PPG too - we are always looking for fresh faces who can bring a new and different perspective to often very challenging agendas. However we also recognise the very limited time patients have as well to give and to ensure every moment is used positively and to help others too.
It is recognised that we have had a significant change in the management with the departure of our previous practice manager Patrick Jordan and the new incumbent Wendy Smallwood. This survey was put together fairly hurriedly in an attempt to try to get some understanding of the needs of the patient population and how we as a practice are performing. In hindsight, some questions perhaps could have been worded slightly differently and there are other questions we could have asked instead. We will work on this questionnaire again with patients and perhaps tweak it for next year. Also given the number of appointments we offer to patients per week (over 2000 appointments across both practices), we think we could get many more questionnaires completed next time so that we can have an ever greater source of data to look at.
Ultimately this exercise is about identifying how the practice can perhaps improve the experience of patients and staff. We are thankful to the PPG, the patients and staff for enabling this questionnaire to be fulfilled and look forward to working with you all to help make 2014 the best for everybody.
Please contact the Practice Manager if you have any further questions, post comments or any suggestions on Facebook on how we can improve things further and deliver great care with compassion, raise the bar on quality and safety and above all have a great deal of fun with our staff, patients and carers.
20th February 2014
Haughton Thornley Medical Centres