Working with patients to make things better

Southern Cross Hospitals’ commitment to improving Patient Experience and Co-design is part of our ongoing drive to enhance patient care services.

Rosaleen Robertson

Consumer Advisory Committee Chair

What is the Patient Experience and Co-design process?
It’s a process that involves teams from each of our hospitals including healthcare consumers/patients who work together on a problem or opportunity, and come up with solutions or ideas to address it. It’s a way of us tapping into patient experiences, expertise and insights to improve patient care – both for the consumer and the healthcare team.

How did Southern Cross get engaged in Co-design ?
In 2012, Southern Cross Hospitals participated in the first co-design programme offered in New Zealand by the Health Quality Safety Commission and UK National Health Service. As a result, we established our Blood Clots and YOU patient engagement initiative which has proven the value of co-design. Read more about it here.

Since, in 2017 each hospital sponsored team members to participate in a Co-design Experiential Learning Programme tailored to our Southern Cross  patients’ hospital experience or needs. And, in 2018, with our own experts we’ve been able to contribute back to the surgical sector though the Kōrere Mai (Talk to Me)

Can you give some examples of the types of projects nurses and consumers have been or are  working on together?
Take Kōrero Mai for instance which is empowering and supporting ways for concerns about patients, such as from friends, family whanau, to be escalated to nurses, managers and or doctors.

Other Co-design initiatives included:

  • Improving ways for patients to give us their feedback at the end of their hospital stay so that we can be responsive and continually improve our services.
  • Focussing on getting patient admission forms in to hospitals ‘on time’ (well before admission, and completed) for assessing patient needs and care-planning .
  • Discovering what is critical to creating a positive consumer experience over and above high quality clinical services, the ‘critical non-essentials’, those important extra touches that truly make a difference.
  • Mapping the surgical patient journey to discover critical or touch points - those moments that matter to patients, and the hospital teams’ to ensure they can provide the best experience for patients whilst delivering safe high-quality care and services.

What role do consumers/patients play in the co-design process?
Consumers/patients are essential partners when it comes to co-design. By sharing their ideas, experiences and stories, they give key insights into how we can make changes for the better. We capture their experiences in lots of different ways, and together with designers we test a variety of different solutions to improve experience.

What are the benefits of patient experience and co-design programmes?
Co-design in the health sector has evolved over the last 20 years with significant published benefits. These include improved effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare delivery and, most importantly, a more positive experience both for patients/consumers and healthcare teams. Co-design is a well-recognised quality improvement method which is used in a number of other sectors where it may also be called ‘human-centred’ design.

Jane Bawden has visited hospitals a lot since her twins were born 19 years ago.

Her son was born with special needs and has needed numerous general anaesthetics over his lifetime.

“My main worry was always that uncertainty of how staff would interact with him. How sensitive would they be to his needs? Would they engage and talk with him, or speak as though he wasn’t there?”

It’s a personal experience that means Jane, an Auckland barrister and former member of Southern Cross Hospitals’ Consumer Advisory and National Clinical Medical Committees, knows exactly how crucial patient experience and co-design is.

“The importance of a patient and those close to the patient feeling they’re at the centre of all interactions with their healthcare provider can’t be underestimated. There’s a lot of anxiety for people surrounding admissions to hospital and anything we can do to make the patient feel like an equal partner in their healthcare is critical. The Patient Experience and Co-Design Programme is about learning through story-telling and putting emotion into the experience of healthcare. I see it as compassion in action.”