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Case study: Staff use real-time feedback to reduce participant wait times in vaccine study

Participant in Research ExperienceSurvey (PRES) is an annual survey used to collect adults and children’s views and experiences of participating in NIHR supported research. PRES was developed by the NIHR Clinical Research Network to demonstrate to research participants that their contribution is valued, and to help make meaningful improvements to research based on people’s real-life experience.

Staff use real-time feedback to reduce participant wait times in vaccine study

Staff from The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust experienced the benefits of the Participant in Research Experience Survey (PRES) first-hand when they used feedback from the survey to improve the checking-in process for COVID-19 vaccine trial participants arriving for their appointment slot. 

PRES is a questionnaire that gives research participants the opportunity to talk about their experience of taking part in studies or trials, allowing study teams to identify issues early to enable an  improved service for current and future participants.

Survey feedback identified a problem

When the study team working on the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine trial in Newcastle received comments from participants regarding long wait times before their appointment, they were quick to take action.

Fiona Yelnoorkar, Matron at the Clinical Research Directorate at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explained:

“We received specific PRES feedback from a participant who had missed her appointment slot when attending  the vaccine trial. The participant was asked to come back in 20 minutes and when she returned she had a further period of time to wait. 

“Originally, people were checked-in at reception by one team member and called in to their appointment by another. As two staff members were involved and because the participant’s return was not communicated between staff, she was asked to wait another 20 instead of being seen straight away. This was understandably frustrating for the participant.

“As we received this feedback in real-time, we were able to act upon it immediately. We identified that the process of checking-in participants for their appointment could be improved by having one designated team member placed at reception to facilitate the participant’s journey through the unit. This meant there was no risk of miscommunication because a single person was responsible for welcoming people and calling them in for their appointment.

“The change was a success, as the checking-in process was much smoother, wait times were reduced and appointments were carried out more efficiently. It is important to us that the participant experience is as positive as possible and we welcome any opportunity to make the process of taking part in research easier.”

Sharing the improvement to benefit others

The team at Newcastle shared the PRES feedback and subsequent solution with the Regional Vaccine Operational group, which meant that other sites could also take them into account when setting up vaccine studies.

Caroline Wroe, Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, said:

"PRES is such an important tool for improving participants’ research experience and it’s fantastic to see study teams using feedback to implement positive change in this way. Participants give up their valuable time to take part in important studies that benefit the community and we are grateful to them. One way that we can show our appreciation is by making their experience as positive as possible and PRES helps us do this. This is an excellent example of how a small change in process can make a big difference to participants.”