- Log In to Add to Favourites
July 27 2012
Staff behaviour in an independent practice, however small, can have a huge impact on patients was the message from this year’s Independents Day conference in Birmingham. OT reports
Event organiser Proven Track Record (PTR) named this year’s meeting, ‘Close Encounters of the Patient Kind’ as the aim was to try to get to the heart of what the patients 20 think, to help independent practice owners and their staff to consider how some common, and perhaps generally accepted behaviours in practice, are interpreted by patients.
PTR co-director, Nick Atkins, chaired the meeting and explained it was the first of two, which would look at the close encounters that occur during the patient journey. Realising that a lecture in 2011 could not do the topic justice, he explained that PTR had expanded it to a whole conference for 2012, and had also decided to split the journey in two and continue the subject for next year’s event as well.
The eighth Independents Day on July 9 began with a free-to-attend event on the Sunday afternoon, which saw 50 delegates attend for its mix of clinical and commercial subjects, despite Andy Murray. At Independents Night, physiologist and double Olympiad, professor Greg Whyte inspired guests with stories from his training of celebrities, such as David Walliams and Eddie Izzard in their challenges for Comic Relief.
This year’s gathering, in a change from the conventional conference model, turned over two of its sessions to hearing the ‘voice of the patient’ using actors who had done research via mystery shopping exercises.
A leader in the field of ophthalmic public health, professor Darren Shickle from the University of Leeds, opened the full day, sharing data from part of his current eye research that is analysing data on the uptake of eye tests, prompted by a low uptake of NHS-funded eye examinations.
Describing himself as ‘a critical friend of optometry’, he brought the results of his focus group research to life by playing anonymous recordings from the patient sessions he facilitated. He shared some valuable patient insights from two key generations, the over 60s at one end of the spectrum and young adults at the other.
When discussing the older age group, he said: “Even though people are entitled to free eye tests, some choose not to because they don’t trust their optometrist isn’t going to sell them something they don’t need.”
Psychologist Fiona Fylan then reviewed many of the conclusions from her 15 years of optical research. She explained that, although confident in practitioners’ abilities, many patients felt apprehensive, rushed, confused and even ‘ripped-off’. She concluded by recommending the CURRVI approach to patient interactions, advising that the practice environment, body language and what practitioners and staff said and did, should all be confident, understood, relaxed, reassured, valued and, perhaps most importantly, individual.
Probably the most popular sessions were the Forum Theatre, where events witnessed during mystery shopping exercises were re- enacted, and the mock radio phone- in session, where genuine patient concerns were shared with a panel. Their answers were subsequently discussed with the audience.
The conference was brought to a close by business consultant Carmen Lester (pictured) and PTR’s David Goad. Ms Lester summarised all the key lessons from the day and reminded the audience that ‘our behaviour drives the behaviour of our internal people we work with and external customers’, highlighting that, ‘customer service begins on the inside and works its way out. Not the other way round.’ She encouraged delegates to leave behind the current behaviours that no longer served them and to take forward some of the new ideas
they had come up with during the conference.
- Close Encounters of the Patient Kind – The Final Instalment, takes place next year on Monday July 8.
- Log In to Add to Favourites