Of all the talks I heard at last weeks conference (Tackling Long-Term Conditions: Health & Well-being), the ones with patient stories stood out in my memory. It was recommend by another speaker that every NHS/DH meeting should begin with a relevant story to ground the following discussions and focus the minds.
One talk at the conference was all about Ethnography and using patients stories as a formal tool for work relating to policy, strategy and other NHS business. The speaker from Ipsos MORI described ethnography as 'walking a mile in someone else's shoes' and demonstrated how effective it can be in healthcare. He used the examples from NHS Kidney Care (see here - Improving Choice - Listening to Patient Stories: Bud Abbott) around carers. Ethnography shows their world, their challenges, their routine and their network and how care fits into that. Comments can be very poignant and effective at highlighting the issues and needs.
To refer back to a quote from Philip Pulman, "true stories feed the mind with information and the heart with hope and strength", and ethnography is a formal version of stories that if created well can have a significant and wide-spread impact on policy, strategy and campaigns.