Aug. 21, 2019

The voice of experience

Study considers patient voice a driver for health care improvements

Author

Dawn Smith/Libin Institute

Kyle Kemp, PhD candidate

Doctoral candidate Kyle Kemp knows that patients have valuable insights that can drive improvements in care.

A trainee under the supervision of Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta members Dr. Hude Quan, PhD, and Dr. Maria Santana, PhD, Kemp was published as lead author in a study recently published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. The study looked at the experience of more than 1,000 Albertans who underwent coronary artery bypass graft and/or valve replacement over a four-year period.

Kemp is pleased that his work is getting noticed.

“It is very exciting that [the journal editors] see the value in the study,” says Kemp. “From a clinical perspective, we have done so much to improve health care, but I think from the patient perspective, this study will provide some valuable insights.”

Kemp extracted the data used in his study from the Canadian Patient Experiences Survey – Inpatient Care, a survey randomly given to 10 per cent of patients after they are discharged from hospitals around the province. Surveys were linked with administrative records to identify the Canadian Classification of Intervention (CCI) procedure codes.

It was the first study of its kind in Canada to link data from the CPES-IC survey with data from administrative records.

Kemp found that while overall feedback was positive from the surveys, patients identified areas where improvements are needed.

For example, only about 45 per cent of patients surveyed reported that hospital staff had always described the potential side effects of any new medications that they were given.

Kemp, whose doctoral work centers around improving efficiencies and outcomes in health care through patient engagement, said he chose the cardiac patients because those procedures are labour intensive and costly. 

Kemp will continue his research in the area of patient-centered care, noting that this study provided a baseline of patient experience. In his estimation, the patient voice is critical in improving health care. 

“We have done so many things to improve health care, but historically, these initiatives have inadvertently excluded patients,” he says. “Fortunately, that is changing, but we are just starting to scratch the surface in this area.”

Santana, one of Kemp’s supervisors, says inclusion of patient voices is no longer an option in the era of personalized medicine.

“Patients bring their experiences to health care to improve quality and outcomes,” she says. “Kyle’s project addresses this, providing an important example of patient- oriented research in Canada.”

Kemp’s study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

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