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How Improving the Patient Experience Can Save the NHS Money

5 minute read

Improving patient experience is one of the most efficient ways to reduce NHS costs. Whether it's combatting food wastage, optimising productivity, shortening patient stays or fostering an open-door culture; we outline how optimised patient experience improves the bottom line of any Trust.

Here are four ways patient experience helps cut costs:

  1. Reduces Food Wastage
  2. Optimises Staff Productivity
  3. Patients Spend Less Time in Hospital
  4. More Opportunities for Feedback


1. Reduces Food Wastage

The NHS has been accused of wasting millions of pounds on uneaten food. Between 2011 and 2012, over nine million meals were left uneaten, costing the NHS £27m. Several Trusts saw more than a quarter of meals returned in this period. This hasn't improved in recent years either. Now, the estimated annual cost of hospital food waste stands at £230m, with 61 tonnes of food wasted per facility, on average, between 2019-2020. 

This area has plenty of room for improvement and opportunities to enhance the patient experience simultaneously. Patient experience can be improved by ensuring food choices are better aligned with dietary requirements and preferences. For instance, patients can be provided with menus that clearly list the ingredients using this information to preorder meals. 

In tandem, a hospital management system can link individual patients to their bed and ward number so if they move, meals can be redirected to them. If the patient is discharged before a meal is delivered, the system can automatically update to reflect this change. These methods reduce food wastage while ensuring the right patient receives the correct meal.


2. Optimises Staff Productivity

Staff productivity is impacted by various factors, from capacity issues and inefficient processes to poor patient education and staff exhaustion. Physical and mental burnout, for example, were prevalent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although we can’t always control every factor relating to staff productivity — the pandemic serving as an example — patient experience is a variable we have autonomy over to significantly improve efficiency across the board.

When patients are entertained and educated throughout their journey, they're more likely to cooperate, be independent and stunt readmission rates. Shorter stays obviously cost less money and, on the flip side, readmissions within 30 days of discharge currently cost the NHS £1.6bn per year

It sounds small. But dealing with patient requests that arise from boredom or confusion can take away from healthcare staff's valuable time that could be spent on more pertinent tasks relating to diagnosis, rehabilitation and operations. With engaged patients comes many cost-saving benefits as staff retention rates stabilise and there’s less need for overtime.

Find out more about patient experience, upcoming trends and how your hospital or Trust can drive your strategy forward in our insightful guide. 

Patient Experience

3. Patients Spend Less Time in Hospital

As a more satisfied patient is more likely to cooperate with staff, medical practitioners can be more efficient and perform their job more effectively. In turn, patients often spend less time in hospital, yet receive superior support and better quality healthcare — a win-win situation for both parties. 

This allows Trusts to allocate their resources more evenly and treat even more patients. If admissions, readmissions and hospital stays were more reliable, Trusts could also better financially forecast and keep a healthier bottom line with more insights attributed to investment.


4. More Opportunities for Feedback

A happier patient doesn’t just make it easier for the NHS staff to do their job. It also means the patient will be more inclined to give feedback via tools like the Friends and Family Test.

In addition, a patient reporting a positive experience is more likely to provide unbiased, reasonable feedback than a disgruntled patient whose mood might cloud their judgement. Gathering feedback is the only way Trusts can determine which areas are working and which need improvement. 

Honest feedback will be much more useful and further reduce patient complaints in the long run.


And Patient Experience Can Easily Be Improved With a Patient Entertainment System That Helps Make Trusts More Efficient…

Hospitals can feel like large, lonely places where patients tend to feel isolated from the rest of the world. This, combined with the limitations of the traditional bedside entertainment systems currently installed in most hospitals, can significantly impact patient happiness and satisfaction.

Many hospital Trusts are looking for a more cost-effective, user-friendly alternative, such as an engaging patient entertainment system — like SPARKⓇ Media.

SPARKⓇ Media directly addresses many of the points on this list, becoming an all-in-one solution for improving the patient experience. 

Using the power of Datasym, SPARKⓇ Media makes meal ordering easy, allowing ordering straight from the patient's own device. Using their mobile device, patients can stream on-demand entertainment and order meals. 

This seemingly innocuous inclusion of meal ordering allows trusts to drastically reduce the amount of food wasted during every meal service. At the same time, entertainment helps keep patients occupied so staff can focus on more top-level activities. 

Other capabilities include:

  • Allowing patients to stream live TV, on-demand videos, music and premium channels from the smart device of their choice
  • Allowing patients to read electronic menus and order meals via their device without needing to pass around a meal card staff might easily misplace or misread
  • Linking patients to their bed and ward number so if they move, staff can see where they have gone and redirect meals to them
  • Having a 'service request' feature that allows patients to make small requests at a touch of a button, like asking for a glass of water or an extra blanket, rather than interrupting a staff member. This ensures the correct staff member picks up ad-hoc tasks like these and doesn’t affect the productivity of the rest of the team
  • Providing a digital window into the medical practitioner’s notes so patients can see a snapshot view into their healthcare. They don’t need to ask a staff member to find out. It also means other NHS staff can quickly find this information and present it to patients — which ensures maximum efficiency and productivity

The above benefits aren’t the only features of a patient entertainment system. If you’d like to read more about these platforms and the help they can bring to the NHS, download a free copy of our SPARKⓇ Media brochure below. 

Inside, you'll see how we integrated the service offered by Datasym with our platform to help Trusts like yours achieve huge savings. Grab your free copy today.

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