iCARE team’s innovation recognised at PENNA 2023



The Imperial Clinical Analytics, Research and Evaluation (iCARE) team won the Innovative Use of Technology, Social and Digital Media award at the Patient Experience Network National Awards (PENNA) 2023. The annual awards recognise best practice in patient experience across all facets of health and social care in the UK.

The iCARE team, supported by the NIHR Imperial BRC, led by Dr Erik Mayer and based across Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London, was awarded for their tool which uses natural language processing to analyse patient feedback and drive improvements in patient experience. The team partnered with nine NHS Trusts nationally to successfully roll-out the tool.

Across the NHS, valuable free-text patient feedback is collected from the Friends and Family Test (FFT) but is under-utilised due to a lack of human resources. To address this, the Trust with funding from The Health Foundation developed a natural language processing (NLP) tool, a computer science technique that provides thematic analysis of the free-text FFT comments.

This innovation is the first of its kind in the English NHS and can analyse 6000 comments in 15 minutes, versus four days if done by the patient experience team. After piloting, it has changed the way teams see and react to feedback, freeing up their time to implement timely patient-centred service improvements.

This innovation is the first of its kind in the English NHS and can analyse 6000 comments in 15 minutes compared to four days if done by the patient experience team. After piloting, it has changed the way teams see and react to feedback, freeing up their time to implement patient-centred service improvements.

The innovation has now been scaled across nine partner NHS Trusts: Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, Great Ormond Street NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, and Northern Care Alliance NHS Group.

Michelle Shaw, Sarindi Aryasinghe and Catalina Carenzo were presented with this prestigious award on behalf of the wider team and partner NHS Trusts at an awards ceremony in Birmingham.

Sarindi Aryasinghe, iCARE programme manager digital health and patient experience, said: “We are grateful for the award and support from our partner Trusts across the NHS, and patient representatives that have supported the programme, to make it the success that it has become. Their continued dedication to improving patient experience, and their generosity in sharing their lessons learned and advice have been invaluable. We look forward to supporting other NHS Trusts to make the most of their patient feedback to improve care.”

Dave Manton, lay partner lead and programme co-investigator, said: “Right at the start, I saw that the algorithm was using every word and sentiment from people’s FFT responses to help drive quality improvement. The thought that none of that feedback – often shared by people who are, or have just, experienced a terrifying time in their lives – would go untouched was very pleasing, from the viewpoint of fully respecting the time and effort that people had taken.”

More about the programme  

The partnership is finalising the national toolkit that distils their experiences and lessons learned as an actionable resource for other Trusts. They have also seen increased collaboration between Patient Experience, Quality Improvement, and IT teams, creating a new multidisciplinary community of practice for ongoing peer-to-peer support as the tool is further scaled up in the NHS.

Dr Neil Springham, executive lead for patient experience, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Whilst it is important to have a high volume of feedback on our services, it is just as important that we can make sense of what people are telling us. Here at Oxleas, we have so appreciated the support from the Imperial team in this project. This helped us to get the interface between people and technology right so we can keep improving services based on our user’s experience.”

Mandy Dawley, assistant director of patient and carer experience and co-production, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The project has enabled our pilot GP practices to access positive and negative thematic analysis at the press of a button saving time and ultimately helping identify quality improvement projects. Relationships across our corporate and pilot teams have also grown from strength to strength.”

Link to the PENNA page: PENNA 2023 – Patient Experience Network

  • Erik Mayer
    Erik Mayer
    Director iCARE & Clinical Reader, Department of Surgery & Cancer
  • Catalina Carenzo
    Catalina Carenzo
    Data Scientist (Clinical Analytics & Digital Health)
  • Sarindi K Aryasinghe
    Sarindi K Aryasinghe
    Programme Manager Digital Health in Patient Experience