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Patients’ experience of primary health care in New Zealand revealed

Health Quality Intelligence Patient experience
11 October 2018

Most patients feel their GP or practice nurse treats them with kindness, understanding and respect, results of a survey by the Health Quality & Safety Commission and Ministry of Health show.

The primary care patient experience survey, now published for the first time down to district health board (DHB) level, looks at people’s experiences of primary care.

Results from the quarter two 2018 survey include: 

  • 93 percent of respondents felt their GP or nurse always treated them with kindness and understanding
  • 96 percent felt their GP or nurse always treated them with respect
  • 91 percent always followed the instructions when they took their medication.

The survey also looks at how patients’ overall care is managed between their general practice, diagnostic services, community pharmacy, specialists and hospital staff.

The results will be used by practices, primary health organisations (PHOs) and DHBs to improve quality of care and patient safety.

The survey runs for one week every three months. During this time selected patients receive invitations via text or email asking them to complete the survey within three weeks of their GP visit. A summary of results is presented in a dashboard on the Commission’s website.

The lowest scoring questions related to communication:

  • 56 percent of respondents said they were always told what to do if they experienced side effects
  • 53 percent said a specialist always asked them what was important to them
  • 37 percent said they were always contacted after a care plan was made to see how things were going.

Richard Hamblin, the Commission’s director of health quality intelligence, says understanding patients’ experience is vital to improving the quality and safety of care.

‘Until now, New Zealand did not have a consistent national approach to collecting information on patients’ experience of primary care on a regular basis.

‘Patient experience is central to quality improvement. By focusing on the coordination and integration of care, rather than just the latest visit to a GP’s surgery, this survey uses primary care as a window into people’s experience of the whole health care system.

‘It enables patients to have a voice that the health teams that care for them can hear in a direct and timely manner. The survey results will be a vital tool for practices to use in their quality improvement activity to improve patient outcomes.’