Dr Amelia Hollywood and Dr Rosemary Lim
Reading School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6UB. UK
Achalasia is a rare motility disorder affecting the oesophagus. Due to the rarity of this condition, lack of information and knowledge and availability of different treatment options the management of this disease varies between individuals. Further research is required to examine the experiences of people with achalasia and its management to inform future patient care. In order to understand what people with this condition go through from when they first experience the symptoms it is important to explore their journeys through their care pathway.
This study explores the patient journey of people living with achalasia and outlines the care pathway using a process map. Process mapping is an important way of understanding people’s experiences by separating the management of a specific condition into a series of steps. It helps to understand the process from the participants’ perspective and can also be used to facilitate change leading to improved quality of care. Fifteen people took part in a mapping session to share their journey and describe their experiences with achalasia. The data was then used to develop a template for the patient journey and develop a process map.
Even though the onset of the disease differed between individuals, the subsequent process and steps experienced were broadly similar. Patients experienced similar symptoms at the beginning of their journey, and the majority had been sent for similar tests to obtain a diagnosis. The results of the mapping sessions indicate that most, manage their condition in similar ways, such as stress management and dietary changes. Variabilities arose between participants in terms of initial misdiagnosis and the treatments they were offered by the healthcare professionals.
This research maps out the patients’ journey with achalasia, which to date has not been explored. Identifying the similarities and differences in the patients’ journey highlights the gaps where an intervention, to improve patient care, could be implemented.