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This article is the author’s final published version in BMJ Open Quality, Volume 11, Issue 14, January 2022. Article number e001556.

The published version is available at Copyright © BMJ Publishing Group.


Clinicians can enable patients to actively participate in their care but communication with patients is often poor and highly variable. The aim of this study was to explore patients' understanding of their current illness while in hospital and using a codesign process to create prototype tools to facilitate better communication during ward rounds. A mixed-methods, multistep design with step 1: Application of a questionnaire addressing domains of care in the acute medical unit; step 2: Development of communication aids that were codesigned with active help of patients, students and a specialist in user centric design to address patient needs and step 3: Evaluation of tools with patients in four Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles. In the initial survey of 30 patients 12 (40%) patients did not know what their diagnosis was and 5 (17%) did not know the results of recent key tests. 20 (67%) patients felt that staff communication and coordination could be improved. An intervention was prototyped with four variations: (1) An A6 ward-round summary sheet completed by doctors during ward rounds. The system worked well but was highly person dependent. (2) An A4 patient-owned diary ('How to Hospital') that contained information about key processes in hospital and space to document conversations from rounds and prompts for questions. 10 patients read the diary and commented favourably but did not complete any pages. (3) 'Diary-cards': a basic set of information cards was given to patients on admission to hospital. (4) Patient specific 'diary-cards' were completed by clinicians - 10 forms were piloted during rounds and improved subsequent day information retention of diagnosis to 80%. Our study identified interventions that were feasible but remained person-dependent. The patients' ownership of information in relation to their care might facilitate retention and satisfaction but the optimal format for these interventions for enhancing communication remains unclear.

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