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  • How can we make sure the health information we produce supports patient safety? My experience of the PIF TICK (Julie Smith, Content Director at EIDO Healthcare)

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    Patient safety and healthcare information are inextricably linked. But how can you be certain the content you’ve produced, or information you have received as a patient, is indeed ‘safe’? The sheer volume of information available is staggering – be it a leaflet about skin cancer, a poster about vaccines in your GP waiting room, a YouTube video about healthy living or a consent form for a surgical procedure. The list goes on and on and, without professional review, there really is no knowing how safe that information is.

    If you work in the healthcare sector, and especially if you work in the creation of healthcare information, you will probably be familiar with the Patient Information Forum and their ‘PIF TICK’.

    The PIF TICK provides reassurance that what is being given to patients is:

    • safe
    • reliable
    • accurate
    • accessible.  

    At EIDO Healthcare, we were awarded our first PIF TICK in October 2020 and have had it successfully renewed every year since. In this blog, I will talk about my experience of receiving and maintaining a PIF TICK for our library of information leaflets for patients needing surgery.


    The PIF TICK is awarded following a thorough review of the steps an organisation takes to produce, review and maintain patient information. Questions are asked about a wide range of things, including author selection, patient involvement, accessibility, file management, and version control

    An area that I found particularly useful to focus on was that of documentation…

    Are all your processes clearly defined?

    Do you have a clear filing system for documentation?

    If you were to win the lottery and jet off to the Bahamas, would someone else be able to seamlessly step in and manage the content?

    That last one may seem flippant, but these are all important patient safety questions.

    If your information is visible to patients, and may influence decisions they make about their care, it must be gold standard. If your processes are disorganised, only truly known by one person or inconsistent, can you guarantee that your information is safe for patients?

    The PIF TICK really motivated me to streamline our documentation. The processes stayed much the same, but now we also have a comprehensive structure that is easy to follow. This in turn simplified the onboarding pathway for new colleagues. We just have to point them to our process documentation, which explains exactly what it is we have to do and how it has to be done.  

    The PIF TICK process is now fully online with a clever programme that allows you and your colleagues to complete sections for each criteria as and when you are ready to do so. This means you can divide the application, depending on who is responsible for which steps in your workflow. The PIF TICK team then review your responses and go through them with you on a video call.

    A report is produced and, once they are happy, you will be sent a certificate. This means you can include the PIF TICK logo on any of the information produced using those processes. The PIF TICK team will also give you advice and actions around any areas of weakness that you will need to work on to maintain the accreditation.  

    I can say with absolute certainty that having a PIF TICK (and more importantly, going through the application and review process) has improved both the way we manage our health information and the content itself. It also offered the opportunity to identify and fill any gaps, streamline existing processes and introduce new ones.

    My initial nervousness around having a magnifying glass held up to our work quickly turned into genuine excitement about the positive difference it would make. Working with my team on it this year, I also noticed how much we were all enjoying talking about our every-day tasks and the effort that goes into them. Sharing the detail of how we take care of our content was affirming and served as a reminder to us that what we do supports patient safety.

    We produce content that is easy to read, up to date and accessible. This is endorsed by the Patient Information Forum and so we feel reassured that our content contributes to patients making safe and informed decisions. As well as being hugely constructive, the whole PIF TICK process is great for morale and it’s always really exciting when PIF send us our renewal certificate.

    As I finish writing this blog I have just received an email confirming our PIF TICK has been renewed for another year. I can’t wait to share the news with my team!

    Visit the Patient Information Forum website for more information about the PIF TICK.

    About the Author

    Julie Smith is the Content Director at EIDO Healthcare. She oversees a library of leaflets used to support patients in making informed decisions about their care, with a focus on medical procedures and operations. Julie and her team are trained in Plain English, risk communication, easy-read information, translation processes and more. Julie is also the hub's Topic Leader for Patient Information.

    Julie is a healthcare editor by background and previously worked at MA Healthcare as Editorial Director, overseeing 25 healthcare journals. She is a member of the PIF TICK steering group and a Trustee and Board Member of the Lindsay Leg Club Foundation.

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