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Improving quality, service delivery & patient experience in a musculoskeletal service

Publication Date
  • Rc1200 Sports Medicine
  • Medicine


The purpose of this quality improvement initiative was to enhance service delivery and patient experience in a musculoskeletal out-patient setting. A cross-sectional survey, with 6 annual stages, evaluated the musculoskeletal outpatient physiotherapy service in a large National Health Service hospital in Southern England. The population comprised 1095 patients, referred by medical staff to the service from rheumatology, orthopaedics, pain clinic and occupational health departments. The individual clinician-initiated strategies for quality improvement included: cue cards; reminders; reflections and training. The systems-changes comprised revised documentation and booking systems. The primary outcome was patient experience, measured with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy's standardised 'Patients feedback' questionnaire. Attendance data was a secondary outcome. This initiative showed that strategies to motivate individual clinicians to change their behaviour were unsuccessful, whereas system-changes resulted in 32/37 improvements (8 statistically significant) in patient experience. Furthermore, the revised systems resulted in a 6% decrease in wasted appointments. It is essential that clinical services are evaluated through the eyes of their users. This initiative demonstrates the value of service evaluations (alongside research) and the importance of patient feedback to show how it can drive change and positively impact upon health-care experiences. Furthermore, this work has shown that active implementation strategies with systems-level changes produced greater improvements in service quality and patient experience, than simply encouraging and supporting clinicians to change their behaviour.

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