Qualitative data is used to describe opinions, insights and attributes of a process or problem. It helps project teams understand how patients, carers and other staff members might view the issues. Project teams are then able to describe the impact of the problem and how it might affect others.
Ways of collecting qualitative data include:
- Interviews with key staff members, patients and their carers allows project teams to understand issues or problems from the consumers point of view. It allows teams to have a systematic approach to gathering information and key insights.
- Observation and surveys involving staff, areas of work, units and teams allows for project teams to gain an understanding of demand and subtleties of the unit or position. Having an external perspective could give great insight into challenges and barriers as well as efficiencies within the team.
- Patient stories, like interviews, are used to gain a deeper understanding of a patient's experience while in hospital. It allows patients to provide feedback to the organisation and for managers and clinicians to understand what was done well and what could be done better.
- Spaghetti diagrams are extremely useful in providing a visual representation of the physical movement throughout a unit. This could be the number of times a sample gets moved around an area or the amount of walking a clinician is required to do to complete a process.
- Patient journey mapping describes all the sequential steps in providing a patient’s care. This may include clinical and non-clinical steps. Data analysis is necessary to evidence what is working, what is not and where the gaps are. Often, perception of why delays occur is not supported by data. Patient journey mapping can be either at a high level or detailed depending on the issue the project team is trying to solve.
- Process mapping allows visualisation of all the steps required to complete a process. It can uncover multiple steps which do not add value, highlight complexity within a process and describe how a process should flow in the ideal world. Process mapping is extremely useful both at the start of a project to understand potential complexity as well as during the solution phase to establish what the ‘future state’ might look like.
Examples of qualitative data