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RCGP Quick guide: Patient Involvement

Patients are at the heart of everything we do in General Practice. Our QI work is designed to improve patients’ experience of care as well as their outcomes.
Download RCGP Quick guide: Patient Involvement
QI work to make our practice systems more efficient will result in the release of more time for GPs, Practice nurses and other staff to care for patients.
All improvement work benefits from patient involvement. It may take time and effort to involve them, but it will be worth it.
Our patients will have a perspective on our practices and their care that we often haven’t thought of. Without their input we may prioritise the wrong processes for improvement or fail to make the most of the power of patient groups to influence others.
The RCGP has the following patient groups and they have resources that can contribute to how patients can be involved:

  • Patients and Carers Partnership Group (PCPG)
  • Patient Partnership in Practice (P3), Scotland
  • Patients in Practice (PiP), Northern Ireland
  • Patient Partnership in Practice (PPiP), Wales.

Some resources can be found on the RCGP website. You could also contact the National Association for Patient Participation (NAPP).
How to
There are an infinite number of ways to involve patients at every step of your QI journey and these are best illustrated by examples:
Involving Patients in assessing your ‘practice culture’

  • Patients who have been registered at your practice for sometime are likely to have some useful insights into practice culture. For example, do they experience a culture of the reception staff trying to ‘protect’ the GPs which may result in poor communication? Are the posters or leaflets in the waiting room promoting self-care?

Involving patients in ‘Diagnosis’ of Improvement needs:

  • Invite patients to take part in a process-mapping exercise of your repeat prescribing system to see things from their perspective and identify aspects that may not be working efficiently
  • Set up a small discussion group of patients to find out their experience of booking appointments at the practice, especially accessing acute care
  • Ask less-able patients to check out the practice toilet facilities to see if they are fit for purpose
  • Ask your PPG to run a waiting room survey on a specific area of interest

Involving Patients in ‘Plan and Test’ of Improvement ideas

  • Ask specific patients to watch out for a change to process and share their experience of how well it is working from their perspective. This is an important aspect of a PDSA cycle
  • Invite members of the PPG into the waiting room to encourage/help patients to register for on-line access
  • Your PPG may be willing to help create materials for health campaigns that could encourage others to take up the offer of cancer screening, or blood pressure checks.
  • Some PPG members may have the skills to find out more about the types of systems that work well in other practices and then share these change ideas for testing.