green_logo_fomerly_empathicaWhile most NHS trusts have successfully achieved their inpatient response targets since the Friends and Family Test (FFT) was launched in April 2013, many have found it more difficult to collect responses from patients using their Emergency Departments and community maternity services. This not only hinders them from gaining valuable insight to drive improvements but also has a financial impact as trusts earn funding by achieving their response rate targets.

This challenge is set to get bigger for trusts as the Friends and Family Test extends to cover all outpatient departments. The FFT is set to become a firm fixture for all users of health services in England as the planned roll-out across primary care services will encompass GPs, pharmacies, and opticians, as well as all NHS Trusts.

Overcome the Challenge of Collecting Feedback
To date, some NHS trusts have achieved a good response rate from inpatients by ensuring they collect feedback before patients leave the hospital, although this does require investment of time from the ward staff. However, in busy outpatient clinics with people constantly coming and going it can be hard to get patients to stay long enough to provide feedback—of course, many will be dashing to retrieve a car, do a school run, catch a bus, or get back to work!

Yet, the challenge of collecting feedback from busy people going about their daily lives has long been overcome by many commercial organisations. Over the last ten years, more and more commercial companies have collected feedback from users of their services—usually by handing them a small card or something similar, which invites the customer to call or go online to give feedback once they reach home or get back to work. Millions of customers annually give feedback in this way across a whole range of customer experiences including grabbing a coffee, the weekly shop, or a host of social occasions in pubs, restaurants, and even the cinema.

Translate Commercial Experience to NHS
There are a number of best practices gleaned from the commercial sector that translate well to the NHS. Many of these have already been taken up by healthcare providers who work with InMoment to collect actionable feedback from their patients, including Boots pharmacies and opticians, The Transform Group, and Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Understanding people’s motivations for providing feedback can help organisations identify the important factors in achieving a strong response rate. When InMoment asked respondents to their customer surveys why they took the time to give feedback, the survey showed that the most frequently mentioned reasons for customers giving feedback were, firstly, that the customer had an experience that was important to them that they wanted to share and, secondly, they wanted to help the organisation to improve and continue to provide a valued service for the local community. Both these reasons are equally valid for outpatient NHS services as they are for commercially driven services.

Commercial experience also demonstrates the value of employees being engaged and enthusiastic about hearing from customers and driving improvements. Response rates vary significantly and retailers can drive a ten-fold increase when their staff members get involved in letting customers know they value their feedback and want to hear about their experience.

Commercial experience demonstrates that a well-designed programme that is easy for patients and valued by enthusiastic staff can successfully deliver feedback from robust patient numbers year after year. As one enlightened Patient Experience Manager told me, the people attending outpatient clinics and using community services are exactly the same people who are completing InMoment surveys after visiting Starbucks, Boots, Tesco, and Waitrose!

By Sue Hedaux, Customer Champion at InMoment.

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