This report, published by the Patient Information Forum (PIF) and its accompanying briefings, is aimed at policy makers, commissioners, and information specialists. It is informed by 300 research papers and experts in the area of patient information, including representatives from NHS Choices, General Practice, Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, the Health Foundation, and the Information Standard.
Benefits of informed patients
The main aim of this report is to help health care organisations present a business case for investing in consumer health information, so it provides the evidence, in a clear and concise manner, for why health care organisations should fund health information services for patients.
The evidence summarised in this document shows that when patients are better informed, they are more likely to adhere to the treatment programme, because they understand all the risks and benefits involved. This means that they will recover more quickly and get back to their normal lives. For the patient, they get a better patient experience and feel more empowered. For the health service, they see cost improvements as the patient requires treatment for a shorter period of time, and may not need to stay in hospital as long. Research also shows that patients who are more informed and involved in the decision-making process are less likely to take legal action if things do not go to plan because they have understood the risks involved.
The benefits described include:
- Improved quality and patient safety
- Increase patient satisfaction
- Annual cost savings
- Reductions in service use, such as operations
- Fewer hospital admissions, because patients are self-managing more effectively
PIF wants commissioners, clinicians and providers to recognise that
- Quality information contributes to “clinical effectiveness, safety, and patient experience.
- Information should adhere to quality standards.
- Information producers should have the right resources and training to do their work.
- Healthcare organisations should have a Board Director responsible for patient information.
- Information should automatically be offered so that patients can make informed decisions.
- Systems should be put in place so that the impact of providing good quality health information can be measured.
Chapter 9 is particularly useful because it makes suggestions for what works when providing health information and emphasises that good quality health information should be available in both electronic format and hard copy.
This is a very comprehensive and informative document, and should be read by all organisations and departments involved in publishing and identifying good quality patient information, so that patients can expect high quality information support wherever they are. Information providers should work to the same standards, preferably, those set out in the Department of Health’s Information Standard for consistency purposes.
This report is a crucial piece of research, particularly at this time, when patients are becoming more involved in the treatment decision-making process. Provision of patient information varies between Trusts as in many organisations, patient information is not seen as a priority. Although medical libraries exist in most hospitals, they do not always support patients, so it is hard for patients to access good quality information, particularly for rarer conditions. One of the key messages from this report is the importance of making fully-resourced, information services available to patients.
Making the case for information: the evidence for investing in high quality health information for patients and the public
Patient Information Forum
The Patient Information Forum has produced three summary briefings to accompany this report:
- PiF Briefing Summary: Policy makers and commissioners (PDF)
- PiF Briefing Summary: Health professionals (PDF)
- PiF Briefing Summary: Health information specialists (PDF)