Resources to help you to write impact case studies.

We recommend that you:

  1. First look at the example impact case studies.
  2. Next, look at the Case Study Quality Checklist.
  3. Work through the case studies yourself using the checklist. For each case study determine whether you think it meets the three core criteria and the additional criteria identified on the checklist.
  4. View the presentation and compare our views to your findings.

Video: Crafting a good impact case study

Dominic Gilroy guides you through writing an effective impact case study.

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Dominic Gilroy : Hello my name is Dominic Gilroy. I'm the Library and Knowledge Services Development Lead for the North of England. And I also lead on the collection of impact case studies and the development of case study vignettes for the Health Education England (HEE) Library and Knowledge Services team. 

I'm recording this session for you today to provide an insight into what makes a good impact case study from the perspective of the HEE Library and Knowledge Services team. I'm going to take you through a few examples of case studies, and I'm hoping that you may have had a chance to look at these in advance of the presentation. If not you might consider pausing the presentation to take a look at the case studies against the checklist before we start, as you may find this a useful learning experience.

Now all of the examples that we're going to look at on the slides today are fictional, however they do highlight real life issues which we see fairly regularly when we're looking at case study submissions which colleagues have sent to us, and by sharing these examples we hope that you'll become more aware of the pitfalls that are there for you when you're trying to write your case studies. As a result, hopefully, product better impact case studies yourselves for you within your own services, and hopefully if you choose to share them with us and the wider NHS library community.

So what we have here on the slide is an example of an impact vignette. These are deribed from case studies and summarise them really in a move attractive and appealing fashion, and you may have seen these on presentations that have been derived by the HEE leads. You mayhave seen them on the website, or you may be one of the services who submitted a a case study from which the information included in the vignettes has been derived from. Either way, I'm sure you will have seen them before, and we find these extremely useful at a national level not only for our presentations, but also for advocacy work when we're trying to encourage those organisations who perhaps don't already have access to a library service to invest in one and to make that commitment to acquire a library service and the services library and knowledge service professionals. Also to encourage colleagues who perhaps underinvest in library services at the moment that there is a case for better investment.

As of July 202, the time of recording this presentation, we've recieved over 350 impact case studies submitted through the website, and about 150 of those so far have been turned into these impact vignettes. If you like, they represent the case studies and our staff in the most positive light and demonstrate the most valuable impacts which we make in a clear and umambiguous way.

So what we have here is the case to the checklist, and if you have had a change to look at the case studies in advance of this presentation, hopefully you'll have see this checklist before. This checklist is what our regional impacct assessors are reviewing - so our colleagues that work in the NHS funded library services throughout England - and they're involved in the impact case study review process. This is what they use when they're reviewing impact case studies to determine whether or not we should accept them and display them amongst those which have been accepted on the impact case study website. 

You'll notice on the form that we have 5 sections to it. 

The first section asks "does the case study capture impact?". We're asking here about the impact rather than feedback so you know if our users are happy about the friendliness of our staff, and the speed at which we do the work. That's all great feedback, but it's not necessarily impact and we are looking for impact in an impact case study. So we're looking for what impact has the work described in the case study today had on the service or the individually. Secondly, "is there enough detail about what's been achieved?" so what's been done by the library staff and by their colleagues in the service. "What activity has been undertaken?" Is there enough detail about that. Thirdly, "is there enough detail about what library staff have done or library services have done nd what was their role in the piece of work?" Is it clear what the library professional or library services have done in the whole process. Now if these areas have all been covered in sufficient detail in the opinion of the reviewers, then they'll usually be accepted and put forward to be included on the impact website. If they haven't been or if any one of them hasn't been, then it will usually be sent back to the service which has submitted the case study with guidance notes as to where it might be falling down. The service will be invited to revise it and resubmit it if they wish.

Criteria 4 and 5 are bonuses if you like. They're not essential to be accepted for a case study onto the website, but they are you know clearly valuable areas too.

Question 4 criteria for "is there a named witness or a champion who confirms the details or stands by what's been said in the case study?" Often they will provide a quote that's captured in the case of the submssion. Criteria 5 is "are there details or estimates of financial saving or time savings as a result of the impact that's been captured in the case study?" This is quite a difficult area, and relatively few were able to specify a particular financial saving, or even time saved, but it is valuable for marketing and publicity advocacy purposes if that information is available. Now if those 2 areas, in fact even one of those areas, are covered in the case study today, in addtion to criteria 1, 2 and 3 that's the trigger really for us looking to include this particular case then convert it into a vignette that you saw on the previous page.

With that in mind let's look at our example case studies and apply that checklist to them. So here is an example of a case study and to present it on the screen, here in a little bit larger. I have chopped it up in half theree so you'll see it's different to how it appears on the actual Word document.

This is a case study, obviously fictional, from Whitby Hospitals Foundation Trust, involving a hematologist who asked for some help in developing his patient information leaflets. So let's apply the checklist to this form. So first of all we can does it capture impact, is there impact evidence on there? You can see there that we're told that yes,the leaflets that havebeen revised reduced appointments by 20 percent and that this equates to approximately £100,000 per annum, saving the time of patients and clinical staff. So we've got cost savings and time savings impact, so we're okay with that one. Secondly we're asked does it provide enough details of what has been achieved. We can say an evidence search was undertaken and it found evidence of good practice, and this led to improved leaflets so that we know what's going on. We know a clinical librarian was the one who undertook the searches, so we can see that critiera 3 "how did the library get involved?" was covered there as well. And what about the 2 bonus areas, do we have a named witness? Yeah, we do we've got the name of the doctor, the hematologist who asked for the help there. He has given his name to the case study and remember we are required when we're subimitting these case studies to get permission from them before we include their details on the form, so they've given permission for their names to be included. They've also given a quote here as well, so that's great - we've got the name and the quote. And what about time and cost savings? We've even got a quote for the cost savings, as well so quite unusual to be able to get a cost or a time saving like that but that's been achieved here as well. So this particular case study has ticked all 5 of the critiera, and not only is it likely to be accepted were it real, of course, for the impact case study website but also it's likely to be translated into a vignette as well with all this information we've been given. So that's great.

Let's have a look at the second case study example ad you can see that first of all at first glance that we've not got as much detail as we did on the first one. It's a little scarce and we would always recommend that colleagues when they're putting together an impact case study to try and be a little more comprehensive than the information we've got on here. However, let's compare it against the checklist. Let's tally it against the checklist and got from there. So first of all then, is there impact? What's the evidence of any impact and you can see there that they're saying the evidence was used to inform changes to a care pathway which updated it based on the most latest evidence, it reduced risk and improved patient care. Some of that information is hidden by my face there, but if you look at the original document you'll see that information is included, so we've got the impact. That's fine, we've covered that base. What about information about what was actually done? Well again, we've touched on this already, so nursing staff have requested assisstance to provide an evidence base to revise the care pathway so that's what's been done -c are pathway revision. And what role did library staff have? Well they requested assisstance from the outreach librarian and they undertook a comprehensive literature search so that's the input from the library and they provided the literature search to provide the evidence based which revised the care pathway. So criteria 1, 2 and 3 I find they're all ticked great. But let's look at the others, let's look at 4 and 5. Well if you look up at the top of the form we've got the interviewee details, it's blank so we've got no named champion or witness. Nobody there to verify what's been done, nor is there a quote anywhere there on the form. So unfortunately, that falls down a little bit on criteria 4. Nor is there any evidence on the case study about any time savings or cost savings, so 5 isn't ticked either. So we've got enough there to submit the case to the databas or the listing of case studies on the website, that's fine we accept it there, but this isn't going to be one that's turned into a vignette as it stands at the momemt because the additional information is not present on the case study.

Whatabout number 3 then? What about this one - the University Hospitals Wimbledon example. Well at first glance it does look a lot more comprehensive than the last one, doesn't it? So let's use the checklist on this one. What's the impact? Let's have a look. Well it looks like we might be falling down at the first hurdle tehre. What was done? Well we know a literature search was done and it was around reducing attendance at Accident and Emergency so we know that it was library staff who undertook that literature search for Accident and Emergency colleagues, so boxes 2 and 3 are met. But well, number 1 isn't really ist i? In the impact section we've just got a comment that library staff are just brillianand always ready with a smile and provide a good wlecome whenever I visit. Well that's great as feedback, and we'd probably quote that in reports and publicity, but it's not impact. Unfortunately, it's not telling us what was achieved or what was the result of the literature search for all we know it may have been wasted effort. It may have just been left on somebody's email inbox, and nothing might have been actioned so we've got no impact there. So that's as far as we can go. This one will be sent back to the service who submitted the case study with some observations that we need to identift really what result there was from this particular piece of work. Did it go anywhere? Were there some results? Can we revised the form to reflect what was achieved in terms of the impacts and the outcomes from that particular piece of work.

Okay then how about this fourth example? Again it looks like there's a fair bit of information here so let's have a look? What is the impact? Well it tells us that procedural changes have led to an efficiency saving estimated at £50,000 per annum and also improved patient safety, so that's great. We've got impact there straight away. So criteria 1 can be ticked. What has been done? Well it says protocols were reviewed and revised to include the latest evidence base, so we've got a litle bit there perhaps we might want to know a bit more about how the evidence was obtained, but there's basics there for criteria 2. What about criteria 3? What's the role of the library? Well, unfortunately, I think we fall down here because we're not told how the library was involved and as far as we can tell from this form, unfortunately they were'n't so again, this would be one where to send back to the library that submitted it and just ask them, you know, did you have anything to do with this piece of work? And if so, you need to reflect it and give details in the form itself. There are some excellent impacts there and a quote and ideally this would make a greate vignette, but we do need confirmation that the library was involved. As library professionals ourselves, we might guess that what's been happening is that a colleague has gone to the library service and said to the librarians clinical librarians "Can you do me a literature search?" but we're not to assume thats not our role to assume. Those details need to be given in the case study itself, so when you're writing the case study just make clear what the role of the library or library service or library professionals was. What did you do? How did you contribute to the work? And finally, the impact seems clear enough so we've got £50,000 mentioned there, cost savings, we've got improved patient safety and improved patient satisfaction.

So great, we've got some impacts saving time, money, improving patient safety. We've even got a figure of £50,000 so it tickets criteria 5 as well. What was done? Well we've got a literature search being undertaken and to identify good practice around these current joint replacement procedures to improve what we're doing and we even know that it was library staff who performed the search so that's great. Library staff undertook an evidence search so we've ticked criteria 1, 2 and 3. We've got details actual costs £50,000 so we've got criteria 5 ticked. We've got a named champion, so that's great isn't it. But, hang on a minute, who is this named champion? Mr Tom Brown, clinical libranian. That's a bit of a problem. Okay so it looks a bit less reliable now and it's a bit like on these Amazon sales where we find the products and the services being recommended by the actual seller and and it kind of reduces the reliability really and the image of the whole thing. What we can't do when we're providing these case studies is, you know, provide our own assurance if you like on on there. We want the interviewee to be impartial to be the person who's received the service rather than others who's provided it. sSo this one would have had to be sent back to the library service and we would ask Tom to try and get the member of the Orthopedics team who has been working with to provide that quote and provide their name rather than his. What they could have done is they could just take the name out altogether and take the quote out altogether - assuming the quotes from Tom as well - and just submit it without those details. It would then go into the accepted on criteria 1, 2 and 3 and be accepted onto the case studies register. But there's so much good information there it would be just great if he could just get a member of staff from the Orthopedics team to confirm those details and agreed to be quoted on there. So again, watch out for authorising if you like your own case studies.

So I hope this short presentation has helped in your thinking around the impact case studies and I hope that you're inspired to create your own, both for your own local use and hopefully to share some of your work in this area with us for the benefit of both HEE colleagues and indeed colleagues in the services who may be able to to use them for their own promotion as well at local level.

Thank you for listening.

Media last reviewed: 14 December 2023

Next review due: 14 December 2024

If you are unable to access YouTube within your organisation, use the copy of the presentation Crafting a Good Impact Case Study and narrative

Contact the Knowledge for Healthcare team on [email protected] for the presentation in an accessible format.

The review team quality checklist

This is the checklist which impact case study review teams use when reviewing case study submissions. Remember, the case study story has to make sense to someone outside your library organisation. 

Any case study meeting the first three criteria is accepted for addition to the database. Case studies deemed to meet the 4th and 5th criteria may be escalated to NHSE library leads for awareness with impact vignettes created for use.

Go to the review team  quality checklist.

Contact the Knowledge for Healthcare team on [email protected] for the quality checklist in an accessible format.

Example case studies 

Great case study 

This is an example of a great Knowledge and Library Servuces (KLS) impact case study. There is clarity about the challenge faced by the Trust, the role of the library and knowledge service in addressing this challenge, the intervention, and the outcome.

There is detail of funding saved as a result of the intervention, direct improvements for patients, and a quote provided by a named library champion who has benefited directly from the work.

This case study is likely to be accepted for addition to the database and will be escalated for the attention of HEE leads as well as being turned into an Impact Vignette.

Go to a great case study.

Good case study

This is a basic example of an impact case study. There is basic, if minimal, information about the background challenge, how the library service helped, and the outcome.  

Notice how the “story” is told less effectively than in the great case study with less engagement from the reader. There is no detail of cost savings or time saving made nor is there a named champion.

This case study is likely to be accepted for addition to the database but will not be escalated due to the limited information provided.

Go to a good case study.

Poor case study 1

This is a poor impact case study. There is coverage of the background and details of what the library did to help. Crucially however there are not details of any outcomes and impact.

The library service found some information – so what? What was it used for? What were the outcomes? We are provided with a named witness statement and a quote but notice the quote contains feedback on how welcoming the library staff are rather than anything about the impact they have had.

This case study would be sent back to the originating library with an invitation to add further detail if available and resubmit.

Go to a poor case study - example 1.

Poor case study 2

This is another example of a poor impact case study. There is some basic information about the background and what was done to address the problem.  There is information about the outcomes and the impact resulting. A named champion for the work is quoted together with details of the cost savings and patient safety improvements.

At first glance this looks ideal.  But what did the library do in this process?  The library and knowledge service is not mentioned anywhere in the story.

This case study would be sent back to the originating library with an invitation to add further detail if available and resubmit.

Go to a poor case study - example 2.

Page last reviewed: 8 April 2024