Patient feedback surveys are fashionable. Every healthcare organisation feels the need to do them; hardly anyone does anything in response to the feedback unless it comes with the threat of a formal complaint. Yet we spend countless hours designing and administering the surveys so that someone can tick a box to say the job was done as per their Key Performance Indicators (KPI). I have to agree with others who have said similar things.
People who use the health service range from those who work in the service to those who have never been ill before. They may speak perfect English or require a translator. They may have a PhD or never have been to school. They may have come to collect a prescription or require cardiac surgery. They are about as different a group as it is possible to be.
If you really want to know what your patients /clients/ customers think of the service they received. Do one of the following:
- Ask the front line staff, not those who might be criticised if the feedback is bad, but the staff that sees that person before and after they have been served. I’ve mentioned them before.
- Sit in the waiting room and listen to those waiting talking among themselves.
But before you find out what the people you serve think, consider what they need and how you might respond if that need is not met. Do you have the wherewithal to fix what is most problematic where you work? Where are the bottlenecks? What is in short supply? What leads to unhappy customers? Do you really want to know or by asking what you already know are you simply adding insult to injury? Why not ask instead how the customer would change the experience? Are you then willing to admit to the shortages in what is available? Are you willing to tell them that one of your staff is not coping with his /her job and letting the side down? Are you willing to say that your organisation is not willing to invest in order to change the experience for that customer? Before you commit to finding out what the patient thinks ask yourself:
- What do I already know that isn’t working?
- Why haven’t we done something about it yet?
If you want to know what your patients think and anything they say suggests a serious deficit, of which you as a senior stakeholder in that organisation were unaware, then you should be alert to the fact that you have not been keeping your eye on the ball.
Picture by Montecruz foto