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The pharmacist's role in enhancing patient experience

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A lot ofpeople, myself included before I began my pre-reg year, may not be aware ofpatient experience. The definition for patient experience as stated in the 2003white paper Building on the Best: Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in theNHS is quite lengthy, butthe basic principle is that patients should be at the centre of their stay inhospital. This might seem obvious enough, but what does it actually mean?

Patient experience featuring in Government literature has increased overthe past decade, up until the publication of the Patient ExperienceFramework in February 2012.Based on research by King's College London, it features eight elements thatunderpin patient experience. One of these elements that I'd in particular liketo mention is "Information, communication, and education". This message was also a key feature in the most recentwhite paper, with the, erm, unforgettable tagline "no decision about me,without me".

As part of working on myproject, I visited the patient experience team at my base hospital to find outabout what they did and receive some feedback on my project's intervention. Thetrust measures patient experience in a number of ways, the mainstay being viareal-time data collection; this involves surveying patients and feeding backthe results to the clinical teams and enforcing change while the patients arestill under the trust's care. The trust's patient experience survey has questionsregarding eight areas; the answers are then quantified and each section isgiven a score out of 10. The section that concerns pharmacists most, and myproject, is the section entitled "medicines".

The survey's medicines scoresare usually the lowest scoring of all the sections. The score centres on three questions and one,according to the patient experience team, is always the "problem question" bothwithin the trust and across the region and country - whether patients have beentold about side effects.

So far, I have been on the wards regularly with myintervention - a patient-held medicines record - explaining to patients how itshould be used and how it may help them to understand their medicines better. Ihave been told by many of them that they aren't told much about the side effectsthat the medicines they are prescribed can cause. Could it be the way that theyare told? Or that they are misinformed as to what a side effect actually is? Orsimply that they aren't being told? Either way, informed counselling and shared decision-making are two of many ways inwhich hospital pharmacists can contribute greatly to patient experience withintheir trust.

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