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Feeling better

Great patient experience is becoming increasingly important for a number of reasons. Of course, there’s the business case. Evidence from America suggests patient experience is an important factor for people choosing healthcare providers; so, as patients are given increasing choice, suppliers’ reputation will become increasingly important here too. Already transparency in this area is growing: Quality Accounts and review sites are frequently read by prospective and actual patients looking to compare service quality.

But perhaps more importantly, great patient experience is fundamental to reducing health inequalities and creating a fairer NHS. Patients who experience a responsive and welcoming service are more likely to present symptoms earlier and stay engaged with the system longer. Clinicians given the time and space to engage with patients are more likely to uncover information relevant to diagnosis – while at the same promoting interaction which reassures patients that they are being treated as people. The aim of our work on improving experience is to ensure that the principles of respect, dignity, and fairness are embedded at every stage of the care pathway – not only to promote clinical outcomes, but to promote fairer outcomes.

The problems we’re solving

  • how to get beyond group identity to unearth individual patients’ genuine needs and concerns
  • how patient voice can be facilitated so it’s not simply about making demands on the system, but creating a new co-operative staff-patient relationship that ensures decisions are based on both parties’ staff concerns
  • the development of new mechanisms that positively influence staff behaviour without recourse to bureaucratic – and ineffective – regulation


What we’re doing
We’re working for Macmillan Cancer Support to develop and evaluate the practical application of a human rights framework for cancer services. The end result is a Human Rights Standard which will allow clinicians to move away from using process measures to gauge progress on equality issues, and start measuring the outcomes that really matter to patients. We are also exploring how motivational nudges can be used to reinforce and perpetuate positive behaviour.

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What other people are saying

The project has been commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support as part of their commitment to promoting equality, human rights, diversity and user support and involvement through a range of innovative projects. To read more about the project, click here.

The Human Rights Standard has been keenly received by the Department of Health. To read about the role the standard has in the government’s national cancer strategy, click here.

The implementation of behavioural standards and the implications for leadership have a great deal of relevance to NHS reform. To listen to Joy Warmington, brap CEO, explain some of these connections, click here (links to Health Sector Journal: may require subscription).