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How patients feel about their experience in their fertility clinic

Juggling IVF and work? You’ve got this!
May 20, 2023
 
I have been continuing to run my survey in my support communities on emotional support in clinics, and wanted to share the updated results.

I wanted to hear directly from the patients I support (nearly 9,000 across my support communities) about how they felt going through treatment, the emotional care and support they received, things that their clinic did well or could improve on, and what they would love to tell their fertility doctor if they could be completely honest with them.

As a qualified Personal Development Coach, I offer bespoke training, coaching and mentoring to staff in clinics, and help them implement support strategies for patients, so I want to make sure that I understand what really matters to patients, on an ongoing basis, and help clinics deliver on this.

The responses (from over 200 patients) have been really insightful and are helping me build up a deeper understanding of how patients would like their clinics to support them.

The aim of the survey is to identify the areas where clinics can increase the support they offer patients, but it also looks at the positive experiences too, so I can learn from best practices, and there are a lot of very positive comments where support has been excellent, and staff are often seen as miracle workers, especially when patients have a positive outcome.

Unfortunately, the results are showing that there is still not enough focus being put on emotional support in clinics:

  • Respondents rated the emotional support they have received from their clinic as an average of 4.8 out of 10 (this has dropped from 5.3 in 2019). Nearly 12.5% rated the support at 1 or less.
  • 62% of respondents felt that their clinic doesn’t have a culture of support that is followed by all members of staff (up from 53% in 2019)
  • 66% would like to see better links to support services and 64% would like their clinic to have a support group they can access.
  • As with the feedback in 2019, a lot of the comments have been about wanting to be treated as a person rather than a number.
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The comments around how support could be improved included:

  • We would like more information on the process of treatment and what everything means, so that we understand what is happening.
  • More communication and information through the process - at all points, in particular the TWW.
  • Try to make us feel less like a number or just another person to scan and try be more personal with us.
  • More empathic communication from all members of staff.
  • Allow more time in appointments to ask questions and for support to be given.
  • Better understanding of the day to day impact of infertility, and sensitivity to peoples emotions.
  • Highlight the access to the counselling team more, and actively encourage patients visiting them.

There was a lot of concern during covid in 2020 when the clinics shut down and treatment was delayed, and it appears that that level of perceived support has decreased further since then.

Patients are looking for more than just success rates when choosing their clinic, they are wanting to know they will be supported, they want access to support resources and they want to like and trust their clinicians.

Emotional support and clear and empathic communication is so important for your patients at the minute.

It will make a huge difference to how your patient feels going in to treatment if they fully understand their personal situation and feel like they are important to you and the clinic.

Communicate regularly to reassure patients and advise of any changes to their treatment plans, so they feel fully informed.

Put in place a variety of support resources that patients can access, and regularly signpost them to those resources. It ensures that patients have a choice in what support is right for them, remember that support can't be one size fits all.

The support work I do means I am in a very privileged position, to be told peoples deepest fears and emotions, their anxieties and worries around treatment and their future life, and I also get to celebrate in their amazing highs of positive results and the birth of their children. I take that responsibility very seriously and want to make sure I am acting as their voice in fertility clinics, helping them get the support they desperately want and need.

I also know from all the Fertility clinics I have had the pleasure of working with and speaking to, that staff are hugely committed to making sure the experience their patients have with them is a positive one, whatever the outcome, and I want to help you deliver that for your patients.

The data recorded from the survey also includes the clinic they had treatment with, so if you would like to know if I have more specific feedback on your clinic, please email me and we can organise a call.

If you would like more information on the support I offer clinics and how I can help you support your patients, please email me at [email protected].

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