Five Ways to Improve the Patient Experience Within Large Healthcare Organisations

Working With NHS Wales

Here at The Experience Corporation we recently did some work with the National Health Service (NHS) Wales. We created a  number of training resources for Senior staff to use in relation to organisational service improvement. I really enjoyed the project and learnt a lot about improving patient experiences.

Following on from the project, I’ve put together five strategies which large healthcare organisations can implement to improve their services. 


Change begins with vision, vision leads to action and action over time leads to sustainable service improvements. Healthcare organisations who want to deliver better outcomes for their patients must reimagine and update their corporate vision. Practically, the vision should be a few sentences long setting out the overall aim for the institution.

The vision should also include a set of values and corporate priorities written by Senior leaders. The themes should be clear, concise and centred around improving the patient and employee experience. 

Patient Feedback 

Understanding how patients feel towards a healthcare service is a powerful tool for measuring the existing patient experience. Organisations should adopt technology to capture real time patient feedback. For example, staff could use iPads on their wards to ask patients to complete a feedback survey where the results are recorded instantly. 

Healthcare services should also take part in national surveys as this allows them to benchmark themselves against other providers. This also helps organisations understand where improvements can be made as surveys often highlight common themes in patient dissatisfaction. Benchmarking also enables patients to make informed decisions about where to receive the best care.

Quality Improvement Measures 

Quality Improvement (QI) is a clinical term used to describe approaches, initiatives and programs aimed at improving clinical outcomes and patient services.  There are various international organisations who provide QI training and resources for staff working in a healthcare setting. This includes the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and The Kings Fund.  

Public and private healthcare organisations can benefit from adopting QI initiatives and implementing QI training courses for staff. The purpose of QI is to equip employees with the knowledge and skills needed to make meaningful changes in their area of work. This can result in higher patient satisfaction scores and improved clinical outcomes. 

Ownership and Empowerment 

Staff working on the ‘frontline’ of healthcare services are often very aware of the issues facing their department. However, many organisations overlook these workers and their ability to bring about positive change. To overcome this, staff should be given permission to make local service improvements in their area of work. This could be as simple as allowing staff to lead fundraising projects in order to decorate and upgrade their department’s facilities. It can also mean offering high level QI training for all staff and encouraging them to use their new skills within their areas. 

Large healthcare organisations usually employ thousands of staff including both permanent and contracted workers. Institutions who utilise the talents of their entire workforce when it comes to service improvement are more likely to see positive and measurable change. 

Organisational Culture 

Company culture plays a major role in employee satisfaction, staff morale and employee well being. This is important because staff who are more engaged and happier at work are far more likely to provide outstanding patient experiences. 

Here are five elements healthcare organisations should adopt to improve their company culture: 

  1. Family Friendly Workplace: Ensure there are policies and practices which support working families. This should include flexible working options, dependants leave, fantastic maternity packages and training for managers about understanding pregnant employees.  
  2. Employee Engagement Groups: Volunteer groups should be established catering for a diverse range of people. This can include religious groups, book clubs and groups to support underrepresented minorities. 
  3. 360 Feedback for Leaders: At least once  a year managers and senior leaders should provide their teams with the opportunity to provide feedback about their leadership style. This can build trust and contributes to staff feeling listened to. 
  4. Inspirational Appraisals: Appraisals can often feel routine and mundane. To make them more exciting for staff, introduce some inspiration. This can be done by discussing people’s dreams, goals and big career ambitions. 
  5. Focus Groups: Staff from all levels of a healthcare service should be given ways to voice their opinion on various topics. Areas for discussion can include improving clinical outcomes, advancing patient experiences and suggestions for new employee engagement programs.  

A Combined Approach

Service improvement can often feel like a huge mountain to climb as there are so many complex moving parts involved. However, it can be done successfully by combining a few of the methods mentioned above.

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