What is Patient Feedback?

A patients’ experience in your practice can shed light on their perception of your staff and the practice. Most importantly, patient feedback can provide insight into the management and implementation of quality improvements in a practice.

What is patient feedback?

Simply put, patient feedback is the opinion of patients regarding their experience in the practice particularly interactions with staff and practitioners. This information is collected and assessed, providing suggestions on a practice’s performance.

The information gathered is paramount to a successful practice. Patient feedback can offer reliable quality improvement suggestions, but the process is not as simple as it may appear.

Collecting, analysing and utilising reliable and in-depth information is a complex process. So why use patient feedback, and what’s included in a good patient feedback survey?

Why should you use patient feedback in your practice?

The use of patient feedback offers benefits for your practice, staff and patients. These benefits range from practice enhancements to improved care, and increased patient satisfaction and loyalty. By accurately gathering information about your patient’s experience, your practice can assess its successes and shortfalls, providing valuable insight for quality improvement.

A well-devised, thorough patient satisfaction survey will provide in-depth information about how your practice staff and medical practitioners are perceived by their patients. A practice will collect and reflect on feedback provided to improve patient care.

Encouraging patients to partake in feedback will help your practice in forming a stronger relationship with your patients, while improving the quality of care and an improved patient experience.

Additionally, honest feedback from patients can lead to high employee satisfaction, securing a well-performing practice team for years to come.

Who should you ask for patient feedback?

When collecting patient feedback, it’s recommended to collect from a sample that represents the range of patients who visit your practice. The means you will need to collect data from various age demographics, cultures, gender, socio-economic levels, and frequency of visits.

To collect a wide selection of participants, patients must be randomly selected. A method must be implemented in your practice to randomly select patients without potential bias. A common method of random selection is consecutive sampling. Consecutive sampling works by selecting a time frame, for example, a morning or afternoon on any given day and sampling every patient. This should remove any user bias and provide a truly random sample.

Remember, the greater the variety of patients, the more accurate the feedback data will be.

Using patient feedback for revalidation

Not only are feedback surveys useful for quality improvement and better patient care, but colleague and patient feedback is a GMC requirement for revalidation.

Collecting and interpreting information from colleagues and patients will help you to identify ways to improve your practice. These are usually undertaken every five years as per your revalidation cycle.

Patient feedback makes up a significant portion of the supporting information required for appraisal and revalidation. The primary purpose of gathering feedback from patients is to:

1.     Gain a clear understanding of how you and the service you provide as a medical or general practitioner, is perceived by those whom you are providing medical care.

2.     Assist in highlighting current strengths and potential areas for quality improvement.

3.     Gauge whether changes previously made as a result of past feedback has been implemented or created a positive improvement.

How many patient feedback forms are required for revalidation?

A minimum of 28 patients surveyed is recommended to deliver an appropriate feedback report for GMC revalidation and appraisal. If patient feedback is gathered with too few participants, it is unlikely that the data will result in an accurate depiction of the patient experience.

What to include in a patient feedback form?

The quality and type of questions asked in the feedback form will ultimately determine the quality of the information provided by patients. If insufficient or loaded questions are included, the data may not be a true representation of how the patient feels, thus impacting the effectiveness of future quality improvement initiatives.

Topics commonly found in a patient feedback questionnaire include but are not limited to:

·        Continuity of care,

·        Access and availability of care

·        Provision of information by clinicians and practice staff

·        Privacy and confidentiality

·        Communication and interpersonal skills of clinical and administrative staff.

For the best results, it’s recommended that numerous questions be covered under each topic.

How to collect patient feedback?

The method to collect feedback is simple. GMC requirements only allow for feedback to be collected through the use of a validated questionnaire.

Questionnaires are favourable as they can address a range of themes without much complication while providing both qualitative and quantitative data. Have a combination of both data types allows for greater insight into the patient feedback.

Focus groups and interviews are effective but less common due to their complexity, higher cost, and cannot be used for appraisal or revalidation.

External survey providers

Practising in, or running a practice is often a busy and stressful environment. Among the day-to-day operations, preparing, undertaking, compiling, analysing and utilising patient feedback surveys can be a difficult and daunting task.

To help reduce these stresses, there are external organisations with expert experience in patient and colleague feedback collection and analysis to help in the process and eliminate the administrative burden on your team.

CFEP Surveys manage and administer the GMC Patient Feedback process with our hallmark rigour and attention to detail. To further assist with appraisal and revalidation, we offer our CFEP360 Patient and Colleague Survey providing multisource feedback for doctors including locum and sessional doctors, consultants, nurses and midwives, pharmacists, dentists and other healthcare professionals.

For information on our patient and colleague feedback or any other surveys, get in contact with our team who are happy to help.