Olivia Joyner and Joe Cullen from TIHR, along with Deborah Davidson from the Health Services Management Centre of the University of Birmingham (HSMC), presented emerging findings from the service evaluation on accessing the potential and progress of web-based feedback for quality improvement in the Health Service at the prestigious 7th Biennial Conference in Organisational Behaviour in Health Care in 2010.
The theme of the conference, which attracted over 150 academics and practitioners from across the globe, was ‘Mind the Gap: policy and practice in the reform of healthcare.
The presentation described the evaluation’s methodology (funded by the Health Foundation 2009-2011), which includes using Patient Opinion website as a case study and ‘Theory of Change’ to identify the explicit and implicit ‘visions’ of change that underpin web based feedback tools. The presentation reported some of the emerging findings from 1. a benchmarking exercise (based on analysis of private and public sector web based feedback systems), 2. a survey of people posting comments on the site and 3. case studies of NHS organisations that have used ‘Patient Opinion’ as a resource for gathering patient feedback.
Emerging findings from the evaluation showed that traditional NHS complaints and feedback mechanisms can fall short as the system is not centered on patients needs. There can be a lack of customer focus, accessibility, flexibility and transparency. Some patients had experienced poor communication and insufficient information regarding their feedback. However, Patient Opinion was seen as safe, trustworthy and constructive as it is independent. It was also viewed as easy to use and for at least 30% of respondents, Patient Opinion is filling a feedback gap. However, some patients are unsure whether their feedback has the power to change anything and they are ‘blind’ as to whether the service has been improved. More information is needed for patients to know what to do next after giving feedback. “The research outlined certain requirements for ‘embedding quality’:
- Management and governance should be transparent, involved and open to learning;
- Information and processes should be established and systematised;
- Customer-focused behaviours need to be actively promoted;
- Feedback has to be channelled to the appropriate person for action;
- Feedback should be acted upon as ‘business as usual’;
- Good customer relations with clients must be managed and maintained on an ongoing basis.
- The research also assessed the relative advantages of an independent feedback system compared with one run by the NHS.”
TIHR and HSMC concluded that “the real challenge appears not to be in identifying the feedback approaches to be used, but in equipping organisations to be able to put that feedback into practice to improve (health) services” (HSMC).
Patient Opinion is an independent not for profit social enterprise, who use Web 2.0 technology to allow patients to have a ‘voice’ by making postings on their website, and to be heard by the NHS Service who they are referring too. Patient Opinion is radical in its openness, use of Web 2.0 technology and its aim: providing a new platform for feedback for the whole NHS.