What are the top 10 concerns patients want addressing to improve outpatients appointments and how can the NHS support these?

Published: 07 May 2024

This latest PSP report, on Outpatient Service Delivery focuses on identifying and outlining the top priorities for research and development in outpatient services, emphasising the need for patient-centred approaches and the integration of technology to improve healthcare outcomes. Here Caroline Hing, Clinical Director for Outpatients at St George’s Hospital reflects on the experience and report as one of the key partners in the work.

The current challenges faced by outpatient services are well known to clinicians and patients: the need for greater accessibility, reduction of wait times, and the improvement of patient experiences. For me one of the drivers for this work was the agreement from all of us on the importance of involving patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, administrative staff and managerial staff in the decision-making process to ensure that the services provided meet the actual needs of those they are intended to help.

One of the key findings from the report is the identification of the ten top priorities for outpatient service delivery research. These priorities range from the development of effective communication strategies to ensure that patients are fully informed about their treatments, to the exploration of digital health technologies to support remote monitoring and consultations. There is a strong emphasis on the need for research into the efficiency of outpatient services, with suggestions for exploring new models of care that could offer more personalised and flexible options for patients.

Digital innovation is also highlighted with its potential for transforming outpatient services, specifically through telehealth and mobile health applications which could have a significant role in making healthcare more accessible and efficient. However, we also noted the importance of addressing digital literacy and ensuring that these technologies are inclusive and accessible to all patients.

Another significant aspect that came out from the work was workforce. In the report we call for research into the skills and training needed for healthcare professionals to deliver high-quality outpatient care in this rapidly evolving environment. This includes the need for ongoing education in digital health technologies and patient-centred care approaches.

I’m proud of the work we have done and hope that others find our report provides a valuable roadmap for the future of outpatient services. By prioritising patient-centred care, digital innovation, and workforce development, it lays the groundwork for a more efficient, accessible, and effective healthcare system, not just for those in South West London but nationally.

Thanks to the Health Innovation Network South London for updating us with this blog.

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