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UK leads the way in rating and reviews of doctors and hospitals

June 8, 2010

Below is the text of an email I sent in my role as Founder of iWantGreatCare. It was sent to the many hundreds of people and organisations who have been instrumental in ensuring that the UK will lead the way in using ratings and reviews of doctors and hospitals to improve quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare. these are exciting times.

Dear Friends and Colleages

Less than two years ago I met and spoke with many of you about iWantGreatCare’s vision that the ratings and reviews of doctors, hospitals, GP practices, dentists – indeed all of health and social care – had the potential to become a central, powerful and disruptive force to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare in the UK.

Thank you again to all who gave constructive, helpful and challenging advice then – and who have continued to support the vision in so many ways in the twenty-two months since. Two years ago you were ahead of your time, now your time has come!

Thank you also to the many chief executives, nurses, doctors, politicians and other “change agents” who have become part of the vision since then and have helped in so many ways. It is no exaggeration to say that we now have a small army of creative, energetic and pragmatic colleagues, determined to embed structured patient experience data at the heart of improving healthcare quality.

Given the interesting response that the launch of iWantGreatCare provoked in 2008, it is especially satisfying to see that the concept of harnessing the patient voice through ratings and reviews of doctors and hospitals has rapidly moved to the centre of the debate and policy – indeed the approach is now a formal, central part of the manifesto of the new coalition Government. This commitment to openness, engagement, choice and true patient-centred care has been echoed by the Royal College of Physicians in their recent report calling on doctors to “engage fully with patients…to develop valid measures that are clinically meaningful and that improve patient care”.

You will not be surprised to hear that the Government’s clear ambition to harness the power of patients has already led to increased interest in the work of iWantGreatCare and requests to help both providers and commissioners meet the new expectations in a way that anticipates these requirements whilst maximising the benefits to both patients and staff on the frontline. This requires a secure, robust, scalable technology platform, aligned with a clear understanding of how to engage both patients and staff in what is for many a new (and often challenging) age of transparency and openness. The iWantGreatCare solution has proved itself to be robust, cost-effective and to fully protect individuals and organisations from the inappropriate comments and campaigns that are increasingly common across the internet.

At the same time, working with forward-looking individuals and organisations, we have been able to demonstrate the value of continuous, real-time, comparative patient feedback as a tool for personal development and organisational excellence. A powerful example can be seen in the reviews collected by Professor Chris Bulstrode at Oxford, I am sure you will – like me – be surprised and impressed by the time patients take to provide detailed, constructive feedback.

Reviews of GP practices, hospital locations, individual wards and departments show the same level of detail; continually providing powerful, useful and impactful feedback to help organisations deliver better, safer care in a more cost-effective manner. Yes, as you can no doubt tell I remain incredibly excited and more confident than ever that harnessing the voice of the patient in a modern, dynamic way will deliver benefits to all stake-holders. In the words of the RCP report: “People have a heightened interest in taking a more active role in their healthcare. Encouraging this interest, using fresh ideas and new technologies, can help to promote safety, efficacy, efficiency and better healthcare utilisation by citizens”.

To support our partners and clients iWantGreatCare draws on a range of resources, including the professional experience of the team working across both healthcare and the internet, but particularly from the lessons and successes obtained from the work we have already done in delivering real-time ratings and reviews across the NHS in both England and Wales.
A major iWantGreatCare programme (now in its second year), is the harnessing of experience of patients and carers of palliative care services across Wales. The Welsh Health Minister has recently given details of the benefits to quality of care that this programme has enabled, stating, “This patient feedback [iWantGreatCare] is directly influencing the work of the Implementation Board to steer service strategy for the future and further improve the care patients receive.”

In addition to enabling rapid changes in service delivery focused on the needs and priorities of patients, iWantGreatCare is working to realise the potential of the methodology to support academic research. We are thus delighted that the CLAHRC for North West London has recently become an iWantGreatCare client to deliver an ambitious research programme harnessing patient experience. In their words:
“Patient public involvement is an integral part of the NIHR CLAHRC for Northwest London and we aim to improve care provided to patients by accelerating the pace by which research is translated into practice. Our partnership with IWGC will enable us to support five local projects to use the IWGC system. We want to use this innovative approach to advance our understanding of measuring patient experience and support frontline staff to use this data appropriately. We believe patient involvement has the greatest influence when patients are involved from inception and throughout the duration of all projects.“

Finally, 2010 has seen considerable investment in, and development of, the infrastructure and technology of iWantGreatCare – not only providing a better experience for those adding reviews, but also for partners and clients using bespoke real-time data dashboards as part of their performance management systems. This three minute video demonstrates the sophistication and power made available to our partners (including continuous, comparative data) and allows you to see functionality that is not accessible from the website. It is taken from a presentation given at a European conference in April.
I suspect that you will not have seen anything quite like this before for UK healthcare and the NHS. I should make clear that all this functionality is fully available now: these are working tools, not dreams!

In the next twelve months we are undoubtedly going to see a rapid acceleration in the use and power of transparent patient experience to drive up quality and drive down costs. Thank you to all of you who have played such an important role in making this happen. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss any of this in more detail. I am particularly keen to hear your ideas, requests and suggestions for new ideas and improvements by which we can deliver more benefits, for more patients across more organisations.

Thank you as ever for your consideration and support.

With best wishes,

Neil

Dr Neil Bacon FRCP
Founder, iWantGreatCare

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