Tell us how it was for youBMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6872 (Published 20 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6872
All rapid responses
Richards persuasively discusses the power of patient narratives in allowing health systems to learn and improve – highlighting the role of an independent, not-for profit company, PatientOpinion, in doing this in the NHS (1).
At the same time, Patient Opinion is having to respond to NHS England’s launch of a new government funded entity, CareConnect, which aims to perform a similar function (2).
NHS England has talked about working with entrepreneurs, and the vital role they have in fostering innovation and cost savings in the NHS (3). Yet Patient Opinion see their existence threatened by the new entry of a tax-payer funded look-a-like (4).
If the NHS is short of money, why is NHS England attempting to duplicate one of the few areas where others are already acting to perform a function (and doing it well)? In addition, there are arguments for using an independent platform for patient feedback systems, including a reduced perceived fear of reprisal for speaking out about care.
Why does NHS England seek to reinvent the wheel, rather than building on the success of existing organizations? Perhaps the role of NHS England should be to consolidate the experiences of patients captured across many platforms, but not seeking to control the process.
1. Richards T. Tell us how it was for you. BMJ. 2013 Jan 20;347:f6872.
2. Ramesh R. NHS to launch Tripadvisor-style website [Internet]. Guardian. 2013. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/28/nhs-launch-tripadvisor-st...
3. NHS England. The NHS is opening up to health technology entrepreneurs [Internet]. 2013. Available from: http://www.england.nhs.uk/2013/08/14/entrep-event/
4. Hodgkin P. CareConnect: there is a better way [Internet]. Patient Opinion. Blog. 2013. Available from: https://www.patientopinion.org.uk/blogposts/187/care-connect-there-is-a-...
Competing interests: Felix Greaves researches feedback systems for healthcare, and has worked with Patient Opinion, NHS England and NHS Choices. His work has received funding from NHS Choices.
Unsolicited feedback from patients, including complaints and compliments, can be very informative and it's certainly cheaper to encourage patients to submit their comments electronically, but these won’t stimulate change if staff aren’t interested. A more systematic and comprehensive approach is needed to improve patients’ experience.
Studies (1) have shown that the following factors are crucial if patient experience is to improve: senior leadership committed to the principles of patient and family-centred care; clear goals and effective methods for communicating these across the organisation; these principles embedded into staff recruitment and training; active engagement of patients and families in service design and delivery; and regular, careful collection of reports from patients and their families to inform progress. These performance reviews should be published for all to see.
Tessa Richards is quite right. Collecting swathes of data from patients without a plan on how you’re going to use it is worse than useless – it’s unethical and misleading.
1. Coulter A. Leadership for Patient Engagement. London: King's Fund; 2012.
Competing interests: No competing interests