How to choose the right patient feedback for your practice

Every patient that comes to your practice is looking for advice and medical expertise. But beyond that they’re also seeking a supportive and positive experience from their trusted healthcare team.

Understanding patient experience and utilising feedback to improve patient care and enhance the way your practice delivers its services is so important it’s embedded in General Practice (GP) governance in the United Kingdom (UK).

Healthcare service providers are regulated by various professional bodies and government organisations. Some of the key regulators impacting your practice would include:

  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) the regulator of health and adult social care providers in England require all GP practices to be registered to ensure compliance standards are met.
  • The General Medical Council (GMC) requires every doctor who practices medicine undertake the process of revalidation and appraisal to maintain their licence to practice in the UK.
  • The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) maintains the register of all nurses, midwives and specialist community public health nurses who are eligible to practice within the UK.

While each of these regulators have different and specific compliance requirements, they all feature a patient feedback component.

What is patient feedback?

Patient feedback is the views and opinions of patients on their healthcare experience. It can incorporate feedback on a particular part of their service – for example, the consultation with their clinician – or their entire experience within a GP surgery. There are a variety of methods for gathering and analysing patient experience and it’s a complex process.

Quantitative methods such as questionnaires enable you to gather feedback from a large number of people, building a broad picture of the patient experience in your practice through lots of different viewpoints. This helps you more easily identify patterns and opportunities to improve your service, as well as compare results directly against other medical professionals or with similar practices. Quantitative methods are standardised, gathered systematically and analysed using a robust methodology.

Qualitative methods such as focus groups or one on one interviews enable you to look more closely into a topic to understand how the opinions or views were formed. As the process is less structured, follow up questions can be asked to try to gain a better understanding of the patient’s thoughts and feelings. This deeper look at individual viewpoints can make the results harder to compare, analyse and understand.

Patient feedback methods

Below we take a closer look at the different approaches to gathering patient feedback. This snapshot can help you identify the right patient feedback process to meet the compliance and quality improvement goals for your practice.

 

More on questionnaires

Questionnaires are a great way for you to collect feedback from a large number of patients (and colleagues) or sub-sets of your patients at a single time. They enable you to study patterns and trends and see and demonstrate improvements over time. However, even questionnaires can be managed in different ways including being delivered either by a paper or electronic version. Below we outline the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

METHODADVANTAGESDISADVANTAGES
Paper versionso Easier for patients who confident with computers
o Better for patients who have privacy concerns
o Convenient for patients as they can complete the survey at a time that suits them
o It can take longer to gather feedback from all participants
o It takes time to transfer responses from paper to computer for analysis
Online versionso Easier, quicker and less expensive to distribute, collate, analyse and produce reportso Can exclude people who are not confident with computers
o Participants who have privacy concerns are less likely to participate
o Convenient for patients as they can complete the survey at a time that suits them

Why collect patient feedback?

Aside from meeting compliance objectives requiring you demonstrate that both your practice and the medical professionals on your team have gathered patient feedback, analysed the information and considered feedback for quality improvement purposes, there is one other very important reasons to analyse and reflect on patient feedback:

To improve patient outcomes

Evidence has shown that improved patient experience can result in better clinical outcomes. Satisfied patients are more likely to follow the medical advice they receive and develop a stronger and more trusting relationship with their medical practitioner. So a better patient experience delivers a better result for both patients and their healthcare team.

There are many options available to you when it comes to choosing the right patient feedback process for your practice. Please get in touch if you have questions related to practice, patient and colleague surveys. We’re the experts in healthcare surveys and we’d be happy to answer your questions.