Everyone has experienced an outpatient appointment at some point in their life, either as a patient or as a carer for a relative. Most of us have first-hand experience of trying to book an appointment to see a GP, receiving appointment letters, needing to reschedule appointments, attending hospital appointments and trying to understand the information sent to us with a treatment plan. We all have experience of what worked well and what we felt could be improved.

The St George’s Outpatient Team, and the South West London Outpatient Transformation Group, have worked with the James Lind Alliance (JLA) to set up the JLA Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) to outline the top ten research priorities to improve outpatient services.

JLA is a UK-based non-profit making initiative, established in 2004. They bring patients, carers and clinicians together, in a PSP, to identify and prioritise unanswered questions or evidence uncertainties that they agree are the most important.

A PSP with the JLA is a well-recognised way to ensure the voices of patients, carers, clinicians, healthcare professionals, managerial and administrative staff are all heard across primary care (GPs) and secondary care (hospitals) contributing to this partnership on outpatient service delivery.

The top ten research priorities for outpatient service delivery identified have been outlined in a final report, following nationwide engagement work. These priorities include the below.

  • How could all necessary tests and relevant medical history be identified and completed before the outpatient appointment?
  • How can patients be more involved in decisions regarding their care and treatment and be empowered to ask questions during consultations and ensure they understand and give their opinion?
  • What are the best ways of deciding which types of health conditions and patients can safely and effectively be managed virtually versus face-to-face?
  • How can technology be best used to support patients, carers, managerial/administrative staff, and healthcare professionals in improving the patients’ care pathway and capacity of outpatient services?

Caroline Hing, Clinical Director of Corporate Outpatients at St George’s, said, “We hope that this process will inform future national research strategies and funding to ensure that outpatient transformation addresses the themes highlighted from the PSP.

“This work could not have been completed without the steering group and everyone who contributed to the PSP and shared their views.”

You can read the full report here.