One of the strings to my bow is training and facilitating process mapping and this is widely used to assist with service improvement initiatives and resource planning. I have run several events recently on behalf of the NHS with the aim to map and subsequently improve patient journeys.
But how do you define the patient journey? Who is responsible for the care of the patient from ‘cradle to grave’ ?
Andrew Lansley is boldly stating that he will give 80% of the healthcare budget to GPS. No doubt his motives are pure, believing that effective healthcare starts with primary care. The government’s plans to inject an additional £2 billion into social care are also laudable. But what about ‘joined up care’?
I have observed excellent care at every stage of ‘the patient journey’ within the NHS. But I have also observed patients ‘falling through the cracks’. A brilliant GP may not communicate with a fantastic secondary care team. A cancer patient may have life saving surgery and chemotherapy in a hospital trust but the practice nurse in the community may not have all the information she needs for follow up care. An elderly lady who survives a stroke due to the highly effective acute stroke pathway may forget to attend the clinic to monitor her anticoagulation therapy when she gets back home.
If I had just one wish from the genie as I rubbed the magic lamp – it would be to improve communication at every stage along the patient journey. If we could find a common language for all healthcare professionals, if we could find a way to ensure that ‘shared goals’ is reality, not fantasy, if we could overcome professional brinkmanship and somehow overcome budgeting boundaries. Then the patient journey would be safer and more effective and outcomes (not targets) would improve