Understanding the behaviour and needs of patients and surgery staff
Live|work are currently working alongside Willow Bank Partnership in Stoke on Trent – a social enterprise surgery owned by the staff across two surgeries in Longton and Meir – to help them understand their patients and staff in order to provide an improved service that is both more efficient and supports their patients better.
Willow Bank are seeing a very high and costly use of GP service and A&E especially by families with young children, and need to understand how to shift these patients into a more affordable model that is still satisfactory to their health and support needs.
Talking to staff and patients
Over the past few months live|work have set out to meet with staff (receptionists, doctors, nurse practitioners) and patients at Willow Bank surgery to gain a deeper understanding of their issues, needs and behaviours.
Among the key behaviours identified was:
• nervous parent’s making multiple appointments for reassurance about their child rather than for a real medical need
• conversely we saw that doctors currently treat the child as the subject and not the needs of the parents so we wanted to learn how the surgery staff could better support the parents, and therefore reduce dependency.
• patients often view nurses as a lower health care option than doctors, even though the training for Nurse Practitioners make them more than qualified to handle a wide variety of medical condition.
• we also saw an issue in the chain of communication between the doctor, patients and receptionist when making a follow up appointment.
Prototyping in the field
Working with the team at Willow Bank we have refined our service improvement ideas to 4 main concepts which we will be prototyping over the next month with the help of the Willow Bank team. The 4 prototypes cover the following issues:
1. Clarify the message to patients about the Nurse Practitioners capabilities
2. A system to clarify the process of booking a follow up appointment
3. Help the surgery staff to better understand the needs of parents and families
4. Community training for parents around health
The first concept to be developed and tested over the next few weeks will be a token-based system to help the communication chain from doctor to patient to reception desk for making the appropriate follow up appointment for the need, and the second is a clearer communication of the benefit to patients of visiting a nurse practitioner over a doctor.
We will let you know how we get on!