Imperial innovation recognised at Patient Experience Network National Awards


The iCare team collecting the award

The Imperial Clinical Analytics, Research and Evaluation (iCARE) team won the Innovative Use of Technology, Social and Digital Media award.

The iCARE team, a collaboration between Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and led by Erik Mayer, was acknowledged for their unique translational approach to sustainably embedding AI into everyday healthcare delivery, to analyse patient feedback, in near-real-time, for quality improvement at an individual Trust level. 

The annual Patient Experience Network National Awards recognise best practice in patient experience across all facets of health and social care in the UK.

The thought that the feedback – often shared by people who are, or have just, experienced a very scary time in their lives – is being used is very pleasing, from the viewpoint of fully respecting the time and effort that people had taken. Dave Manton Lay Partner co-investigator

Across the NHS, valuable free-text patient feedback is collected from the Friends and Family Test (FFT) but is not used routinely due to a lack of human resource and time. To address this, a multi-disciplinary team from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London, with funding from The Health Foundation, developed a natural language processing tool, a computer science technique that provides thematic analysis of the free-text FFT comments.

This innovation is the first of its kind in the English NHS and can analyse 6000 comments in 15 minutes, versus four days if done by the patient experience team. After piloting, it has changed the way teams see and react to feedback, freeing up their time to implement timely patient-centred service improvements.

The innovation has now been scaled across nine partner NHS Trusts: Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, Great Ormond Street NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, and Northern Care Alliance NHS Group.

Sarindi Aryasinghe, Catalina Carenzo, and Michelle Shaw were presented with this prestigious award on behalf of the wider team and partner NHS Trusts at an awards ceremony in Birmingham.

Speaking about the success, Sarindi Aryasinghe, iCARE programme manager digital health and patient experience, said: “We are grateful for the award, as well as the support from our partner NHS Trusts and the patient representatives that have supported us in making this programme a success. Their continued dedication to improving patient experience, their advice, and their generosity in sharing lessons learned, have been invaluable. We look forward to supporting other NHS Trusts to make the most of their patient feedback to improve care.”

Catalina Carenzo, iCARE data scientist, said: "This project has provided an invaluable opportunity to bring together NHS Information technology staff across all the Trusts involved, into a collaborative space for co-production and shared learning for best practise in in implementing and embedding the application of data science techniques into everyday healthcare delivery for patient benefit.” 

Dave Manton, a lay partner lead and programme co-investigator, said: “Right at the start, I saw that the algorithm was using every single word and sentiment from people’s FFT responses to help drive quality improvement. The thought that the feedback – often shared by people who are, or have just experienced a very scary time in their lives – is being used is very pleasing, from the viewpoint of fully respecting the time and effort that people had taken.”

Dr Neil Springham, executive lead for patient experience at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Whilst it is important to have a high volume of feedback on our services, it is just as important that we can make sense of what people are telling us. Here at Oxleas, we have so appreciated the support from the Imperial team in this project. This helped us to get the interface between people and technology right so we can keep improving services based on our user's experience.”  

The partnership is now finalising a national toolkit that distils their experiences and lessons learned as an actionable resource for the NHS; this toolkit is currently being tested by additional Trusts not involved in the original scale and spread programme of work. The programme has also seen increased collaboration between Patient Experience, Quality Improvement, and data science teams, supporting the development of a new national multidisciplinary community of practice as the innovation is scaled across the NHS.  


Benjie Coleman

Benjie Coleman
Department of Surgery & Cancer

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