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How to get patients to review you – expert tips

January 4, 2016

A hugely enjoyable part of my role as the Founder of iWantGreatCare is travelling across the UK and overseas meeting those doctors, nurses, physios and other clinicians who have embedded the service into their practice. I’ve written before on the benefits colleagues describe from getting continuous, real-time feedback from the patients and families they care for.

Probably the most frequent question I get is “just what is the best way to drive up the number of reviews I get?”, or words to that effect.

I thought the quickest way to share collected wisdom and experience on this was to email a few of the most effective/experienced users of iWantGreatCare, asking them to share simple tips with others on what has worked best for them.

  • What wording on email footers?
  • Do you give cards to patients, or text on the bottom of clinic letters?
  • What doesn’t work?
  • How to elicit feedback from colleagues?

Below are the first few responses – both positive and negative.

What is clear is that clinicians want more and more feedback. Rather than it being something that professionals worry about or fear, the idea of asking patients to rate and review the care they receive is a future that has already arrived for the best, brightest and most patient-focused clinicians – and is already benefiting them and, most importantly, their patients.

There’s still a lot of work to be done and many (exciting!) opportunities to improve response rates, accessibility, and inclusivity (iWGC is already available in 18 languages, easy-read version, paediatric app etc), whilst ensuring that feedback remains representative, instructive to clinicians and – by openly sharing every single word – increasingly useful for patients and the public. These are the things that the iWGC team, with the help of many of the clinicians already using the service, is working hard to make happen as fast as possible.

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I have learnt a little over the years using IWGC

First, all patients when asked promise to give feedback, but they don’t.

I think you should ask everyone as otherwise you are biasing your sample.

WHY?

  1. Once they are out of your clutches you are history, especially in the A&E. They probably only came for reassurance and once they have got that other issues take over. I am unable to lift my return rate above 1:10
  1. They don’t like saying bad things, so if they didn’t like the way things were handled they don’t respond. I had an email from a patient saying “you got the diagnosis wrong, but I am not putting anything on IWGC as I will spoil your stats.
  2. Patients are now swamped with feedback requests and we are one of many trying to get constructive feedback.

I think that copying the clinic letter/discharge note to the patient is excellent practice, very impressive.

Maybe a IWGC card when they leave hospital then a reminder on the discharge note would help.

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I put a link to deliver feedback on me at the bottom of every letter that gets sent out from both NHS secretary and Private Secretary and yet thus far have got virtually no feedback this way. I continue to find this interesting – we are talking about 100s and 100s of letters… There must be something about that methodology that just makes it ineffective.

I will continue to do this – more because I think it sends an important message – but will need other ways to get more feedback. It appears a direct request remains the most likely to succeed but is an approach I find very hard in certain aspects of my work.

I remain keen that my organisation ask for it for me, via text message/smart phone technology or email…  I live in hope.

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My practice has changed over time and each time there is a flurry of response, then stagnation.

I have copied patients their letters for many years.

I have fought shy of asking patients directly, or giving them cards, or asking them to feedback (except as required for GMC questionnaires)

I hope this is something they might want to do, so have tried to find ways to encourage it – though it is getting closer to asking.

I started trying to attract feedback in 2008 with a bland note beneath my signature, in the hope that patients would understand what I wanted from their copy

2008

(Comment on this doctor’s performance at www.iwantgreatcare.org or www.ratemds.com)

In 2010 I dropped the other website, and added a “please”

2010

(Please comment on this doctor’s performance at www.iwantgreatcare.org

In 2013 rather than simply cc patients,  I started sending a compliments slip pinned to the front of copy letters making it plain that feedback from them would be appreciated.

2013

Please find enclosed a copy of my letter for your own records.  I would appreciate any comments on your care at www.iwantgreatcare.org

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I’m relatively new to feedback on patient experience but I individually invite all of the patients I operate on on certain regular days. I hand write the link and my name on an information leaflet (which is about their disease) and ask them to fill it out. It’s very labour intensive, with a low yield. I think the response rate is somewhere around 10%, if that.

I am 100% certain that having an iPad with the option of filling the form out immediately after their procedure would increase uptake considerably, and I wouldn’t need to ask. It may be a bit like those sad or happy face buttons I press after walking out of airport security. I’d do it if it’s disgustingly convenient, or if I have something I’d really like to say.

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I started asking for feedback a couple of years ago as a trainee, and haven’t noticed any change in response rate since I became a consultant. I ask all patients I see in clinic or operate on (I’m a paediatric surgeon) and give them a green card. My response rate is about 10-15% even though they all promise to give feedback. I’ve even had  conversations with some about the importance of feedback and the exciting new era of transparency and patient empowerment, but I don’t think it has had an impact on the response rate.

I recently started adding a request to my clinic letters (which are all copied to parents) but I am sure it hasn’t generated any feedback. I asked my secretary about a compliment slip, but she felt it would be too much work to add to the letters.

I don’t get many direct emails from patients (is that NHS or private?) but if I did I would try adding a request to my responses.

Interestingly I’ve given cards to a few colleagues who expressed an interest in the concept and asked them for feedback, but haven’t had any yet.

Any tips to improve the rate of feedback would be gratefully received as I find it very frustrating to have such a low response rate. I feel sure that an electronic system in clinic (eg an ipad) or follow up emails or texts to patients that have already been asked would improve the rate, but maybe I am being too optimistic.

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Working in sexual & reproductive health and HIV I have a feeling that stigma plays a part in my low feedback rate.

I have tried the following:

  • Adding a link to the email footer (but I don’t email many patients directly)
  • Putting the IWGC link on my name stamp that goes on every information sheet I give to patients along with my email
  • Giving out IWGC cards which I purchased via Moo – when I remember to give them out this is the best way to stimulate feedback

During appraisals I have asked all staff to engage with IWGC for the last two years and there has been a reluctance to do so.

Our department is good at getting feedback from patients on Trust comment cards and I am keen to move this to IWGC.

My plans to have all staff on IWGC with feedback tablets at each clinic (preferred option) has been put on hold now that our commissioners have just responded to the central government cut in the public health grant with a 20% reduction in funding over the next five years!

In view of my budget constraints I plan to promote the clinic iWGC link and it would be good if the staff associated with these clinics could be linked to the venue too so that patients could comment on both at the same time. [EDIT – they are linked in this way]

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Good evening. So I’m a paediatrician and many of my patients email me to either feedback or question etc. So I keep their details and in one month per year, I email all of them!  It’s about as unselective as asking all patients judging that many of those that email me are questioning or disagreeing with my diagnosis! They get a worded email with a link taking them straight to the feedback page

Out of those I email, quite a few reply……

But all my patients are IT literate cos they’re all under 40, or 30 years old.

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