Thanks to an evaluation of Patient Opinion work across Scotland commissioned by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, the answers are beginning to emerge. The evaluation was carried out this summer by independent researchers Twintangibles and the results released at the end of November.
When talking to people who had shared a story, the researchers found that 83% would recommend using the site to family and friends. People sharing stories on the site found Patient Opinion convenient, easy to use, quick, anonymous and confidential but useful to share and read views publicly as driving factors. The fact that they also received a response from health services also encouraged them to use the site.
However the report states that “25% of those that had received a response were dissatisfied with the response”. At Patient Opinion, we think that this highlights the importance of a meaningful and personal response from an identifiable member of staff. It matters to the author of the story of course – no-one likes the feeling that what they have said has disappeared into a big black hole. It also matters to health services – the stories and corresponding responses about Scottish services have been viewed nearly 500,000 times. So a ‘cut and paste’ responses isn’t just seen by the author but by many others. This reinforces previous surveys which have emphasised the importance of a meaningful and personal response from a member of staff the author can identify with.
We are often asked if Patient Opinion reaches older people, as it’s an online service. Researchers found that almost a third of respondents to this survey were over 60, demonstrating that older people are using the site.
So what did health services say to the independent researchers? 76% of health services said they would recommend Patient Opinion as a mechanism to support service improvement.
Improving services seems to be what people who share stories are interested in too as “more people (using Patient Opinion) were motivated by a need to praise than through motivation borne out of anger or frustration.”
Sharing stories on Patient Opinion was viewed as a “useful method to offer praise whereas other feedback routes seem to be aligned to criticism and complaint.” We were reassured to hear that the site is providing a strong alternative to routes that are more focussed on complaints and criticism. We have always hoped to provide a very public morale booster that encourages staff to keep doing the things they do well.
Read a summary of the results of this report here.
Or, you can read the full independent report here.