We already have plenty of ways to hear what patients think. What makes Care Opinion different?
The NHS has many ways to gather patient experience. For example, there are traditional techniques such as suggestion boxes, patient surveys, and focus groups, and newer ideas like electronic patient experience "trackers", discovery interviews, and kiosks. Some trusts even have a patient feedback or survey facility on their web site.
So what makes Care Opinion different?
The feedback starts from what the patient or carer wants to say
On Care Opinion, everything starts from your story. So patients, service users and carers can say what is important to them about their experience, in their own way. Unlike surveys, people can start from what they want to say – not from what the service wants to ask them.
This makes feedback less frustrating for patients, and sometimes more surprising for services.
People's stories identify what could be better, and often provide the information and motivation for real change
Many mechanisms – like surveys – aim to measure the past. Important though that is, it may not provide what is needed to change the future. The stories people tell on Care Opinion, however, don't just identify what could be better. They often say exactly how things should change, and the human voice of the story can be a powerful motivator for change too.
Stories really can – and do – change the world.
The person who gives feedback can get a response
Giving feedback can be a thankless task. Is anyone really listening? On Care Opinion, people can have a response to their feedback, so they know their voice is heard. Recent independent research on Care Opinion suggests this increases people's support for the NHS.
Responding services can show how they are using feedback
Research into NHS complaints suggests that very often people feel giving feedback is "pointless" - does anything really change as a result? On Care Opinion, services are showing their changes in a clear, visual way.
So people can see their feedback really is contributing to change.
Everyone can see what everyone says
When Care Opinion publishes a posting or a response, everyone can see it. That's important - not just because everyone can see the experiences reported by patients, carers and service users, but also because everyone can see the responses.
Where feedback is having a real impact on services, everyone can see that it is.
Anyone can make use of the feedback
A valuable side-effect of Care Opinion's transparency is that when someone posts feedback, many different people may make use of it - not just the service provider. For example, we see the feedback on Care Opinion being used in textbooks of nursing, in training health care workers, in local and national research, by local NHS commissioners, by national policymakers, and by patient organisations.
The feedback people donate creates a public resource for anyone to use.
Our online platform makes giving and receiving feedback safe, easy and rewarding
Giving feedback can be awkward, difficult or time-consuming, whether face to face or online. But Care Opinion's award winning online platform makes it easy, and even enjoyable. Our user research shows that many people feel better – more empowered ¬– after sharing their story online, and our case studies show how staff really appreciate being able to hear what patients are saying in near real-time.
Online feedback engages people you may not be hearing from
Not everyone has access to the web or wants to use a computer, which is why we make sure Care Opinion can also work by post, phone and digital TV. But we have also learnt that online feedback gives a voice to people you may not yet be hearing from – people with mental health problems, learning disability, housebound patients or carers, those with addiction problems, people who are embarrassed or disempowered due to condition or stigma.
Far from excluding people, the web can give more people a voice, and make their voice count.
Online feedback can go everywhere - even on to your own website
Once patient and carer experience are on Care Opinion, they can be shared widely across the web at no extra cost. For example, any of the feedback we publish can be accessed in data feeds, and anyone can use our widgets to bring recent feedback onto their own web pages. You can even use a widget to enable people to contribute feedback without leaving your own site.
Online feedback is highly cost-effective
Compared with other approaches to gathering patient and carer experience, Care Opinion is remarkably inexpensive to use – and much of it is free.
The more you use it, the more value you get, and the more value you create for other people at the same time. And using it more doesn't add any extra costs at all.