IBD Standards and the IBD specialist

Barney Hawthorne is a Consultant Gastroenterologist in Cardiff, ex-Chair of the IBD Section Committee of the BSG and Chair of the Medical Research Award Committee of Crohn’s & Colitis UK

In 2009, the first UK IBD Standards were ground-breaking in presenting the key qualities that constitute excellence in an IBD service. They were used to inform some of the data collected in the 2nd and subsequent rounds of the National IBD Audit. The 2019 IBD Standards are closely aligned with the new UK BSG IBD Guidelines document. The Guidelines have a section on service delivery, while the Standards set out key features of a high-quality service more comprehensively.

The new IBD Standards and twin assessment approach using online tools, by both the IBD teams and IBD patients themselves, represents a novel and powerful way to measure current service quality and incentivise teams to make improvements over time. This process fits with the BSG quality improvement strategy led by the Clinical Standards and Services Committee. Following on from the impact of the National IBD Audit, it is vital that the IBD Standards form the foundation for ongoing quality improvement across the UK.

The new IBD Standards and twin assessment approach using online tools, by both the IBD teams and IBD patients themselves, represents a novel and powerful way to measure current service quality and incentivise teams to make improvements over time.

What should hospital IBD teams do to improve their service with the help of the IBD Standards?

There will be lots of publicity for IBD patients to complete the survey from July-Sept 2019. Encourage your patients by giving out flyers in IBD clinics and infusion facilities.

  • Fill in the online self-assessment for hospitals

A few key IBD team members should complete the self-assessment, and if advance preparation is made to gather facts, this should take no more than a couple of hours. The IBD Benchmarking Tool will be live from 1st October 2019 – but you can register now.

  • Review the results of the self-assessment, alongside the results from your centre’s patient survey

It is essential to compare your hospital self-assessment results against the patient survey, but also with national results and regional results.

The IBD Standards are about quality improvement and are not for accreditation

  • Meet to develop a targeted plan for quality improvement

Once the team, and patient representatives, have had a chance to review your local benchmarking results, meet up with MDT members, manager and patient representatives to develop a plan for improving services over the next year. Involving your patients in this process is important. Focus on areas that you consider to be priorities. Utilise resources available through the IBD UK website. These include templates, protocols and case studies. Care quality improvement resources are available through the Royal College of Physicians, the BSG and the Health Foundation. Business cases for additional staff or other resources take time to get results, so also consider smaller incremental changes that can be implemented more quickly. Set achievable targets, ensuring that lead individuals and time frames are clearly identified and documented for each task. Work towards the next year’s benchmarking and listen to what your patients consider to be the key priorities. Remember also to contribute your protocols, resources and experience to the IBD UK website for the benefit of other teams.

In a cash-strapped system, the patient voice can be a powerful driver for change.