Key points

  • It is not possible to suggest that a certain approach or a particular tool is most effective for measuring people’s experience.
  • However, the evidence suggests 10 things to consider when measuring changes in patient and carer experience over time.

1. Consider how patient experience is being defined to inform exactly what needs to be measured.

2. Think about why patient experience is being measured and how the information will be used.

3. Assess whether it would be useful to combine approaches so that both qualitative and more quantitative material is collected.

4. Consider whether to ask everyone using the services or only a sample to provide feedback.

5. Think about whether the best time to collect feedback is immediately after using the services, when experiences are fresh in people’s minds.

6. Allocate enough time at the outset to plan and test measurement methods, particularly if these will be used for many years to monitor change over time.

7. Think about how the end result needs to be presented for various audiences as this may shape how data are collected. Potential outputs include statistical averages, in-depth quotes or graphs.

8. Make sure that there is appropriate infrastructure at an organisational level to analyse and use patient experience information.

9. Make sure that patients, carers, managers and health professionals are all comfortable with why feedback is being collected and how it will be used. Staff need to be on board as well as patients.

10. Ensure that patient experience measures are seen as one component of a broader framework of measurement and that all of the approaches work well together, without excessive burden for either staff or patients.

How has the experience of patients and carers been measured in healthcare? What are the pros and cons of different approaches for measuring improvement over time?

This evidence scan provides an accessible overview of the range of methods that have been used to measure patient experience, in order to help practitioners, planners and researchers consider the best approaches for their own local improvement initiatives. However, the focus is on compiling broad themes from the literature, not providing summaries of individual studies or tools.

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