Now amplified: patient voices

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Now amplified: patient voices

People working in health care aren’t the only ones who can improve the system. Those they serve — patients, clients, Canadians — can too, by sharing their experiences and offering their insight. For example, they can say how they felt about their hospital admission, and how well their pain was controlled. They can say whether they would recommend a particular hospital. They can help health system administrators and service providers focus on issues and provide better care.

Now they have help getting their voices heard across the country, thanks to the new Canadian Patient Experiences Reporting System (CPERS).

Survey says…

Patient experience is a key component of health system performance measurement, and is therefore an important part of CIHI’s work in the area.

“Quality in medical and health care has 2 distinct dimensions: 1 from the perspective of professional and technical standards, and the other from the patient perspective,” explains CIHI’s Kira Leeb. “We can obtain this information only if we ask patients themselves.”

While many provinces had been surveying patients for years, variations among the jurisdictions meant that the tools — and the insight they could provide — could not support comparative reporting.

A request from several provinces led CIHI to partner with the jurisdictions as well as with national experts to develop a common survey tool. They worked together over 3 years to design, test and hone the Canadian Patient Experiences Survey — Inpatient Care (CPES-IC) to collect meaningful comparative pan-Canadian inpatient data on patient experiences.

The survey is now on the Accreditation Canada list of approved tools for determining client experience in acute care.

…listen across the country

But there was still an important gap: the country needed a mechanism to collect the standardized, comprehensive patient experience information. So CIHI developed a new pan-Canadian reporting system.

“We wanted to provide a standardized data source and repository for collecting and reporting CPES-IC survey results from across Canada,” explains CIHI’s Laura Faye. “So we drew on staff expertise in standardization, methodology, survey development, database management and assessment of pan-Canadian health system performance to build CPERS — our new Canadian Patient Experiences Reporting System.”

Ready to accept data as of April 2015, CPERS provides comprehensive and comparative patient experience information to help jurisdictions and hospitals develop benchmarks and drive quality improvement initiatives. It is the only tool in Canada that can support national comparisons of patient experience.

Moreover, the design doesn’t just provide data for national benchmarking: it supports international benchmarking in some areas as well.

Once CPERS has received CPES-IC data, participating jurisdictions and facilities will have access to comparable patient-reported indicators in areas such as cleanliness, pain control and communication with physicians. These measures, now in the preliminary stage, will be based on the data collected.

Alberta Health Services, an early adopter of the tool, has been using CPES-IC over the past year. The province-wide regional health authority will soon be submitting data to CPERS. “The survey has allowed Alberta hospitals to understand and learn from their patients’ experiences,” explains Brandi McCormack, director of Primary Data Support, Analytics at Alberta Health Services. “By implementing this new pan-Canadian survey tool, our hospitals will also gain insight into how patient experiences compare elsewhere in the province and across the country — which will help us to improve our patient-centred care.”

Resonating coast to coast

Measuring patient experience is important to improving overall health system performance. Using CPES-IC to collect pan-Canadian patient experience information will help facilities to assess individuals’ impressions and to foster quality improvement and the delivery of patient-centred care.

CPERS is poised to amplify patient voices and strengthen health system efforts to provide patient-centred care.

And as CIHI continues to collaborate with partners across Canada to determine how best to build from this work — perhaps by including other sectors — these voices will only get louder and provide even more guidance for improving care.

For more information, please email prems@cihi.ca.