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What can a small Irish B&B teach the NHS?

July 29, 2011

(Why do small businesses implore you to review them – but most hospitals don’t?)
Last month my family made a short trip to Ireland where the people were – as ever – delightful, warm and kind. They stayed in a small bed and breakfast and the owner personally sorted out their onward online flight booking, provided an excellent, freshly-cooked meal when they arrived late in the evening and provided a home-made picnic the next day as they left too early for breakfast. Nothing was too much trouble – and all for 30 euros.
He was concerned by only two things: firstly, that he was doing all he possibly could to make their stay perfect and secondly that they would add a review of his business to TripAdvisor.
Of course they did as he asked – indeed were only too delighted to thank him in this way for all his hard work (probably more valuable to him than a tip?) and to help tell others of this nirvana for all those travelling in this part of Ireland.
It always strikes me as fascinating that – unlike most of healthcare – excellent people in the service industries really value and want reviews from their customers/users that are openly shared on the web. They know that all internet reviews are useful and powerful – either as a way to improve and correct things that could be better, or (as in the case of Templemore B&B[link]) to help ensure future business in a competitive and challenging market.
Why is it that other sectors work really hard to get those they depend on to provide feedback and see online ratings and reviews as a good thing, whilst too many hospitals (and doctors) still see it as something to resist and worry about? It is now clear that openly sharing feedback from patients not only increases public trust and confidence in care-givers, but also increases the morale of the clinicians themselves. It does not lead to streams of negative comments, in fact quite the reverse: the majority of patients are delighted to be able to say a huge public thank you to those who work hard to care for them and at the same time, help the next patient make an informed choice. As financial pressures bite and NHS Trusts are exposed to an increasingly competitive environment it will be interesting to see which learn from the experience of business owners such as Mr Maher in Templemore, and join healthcare organisations already using iWantGreatCare to engage with their public and patients by openly sharing all feedback from their users.


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