We are living and working in what Nilofer Merchant has termed the ‘social era’, where connections create value, power comes through connected individuals in a community rather than from big institutions, collaboration trumps control, and consumers become co-creators.
In this world, openness confers competitive advantage, because it harnesses the enormous potential of many connected individuals to create better ideas that are owned by all.
Social media and the web is completely changing the way we all interact, and have conversations, by providing a cheap (often free) platform with a reach that could not have been imagined just a few years ago.
And it offers huge opportunity for hospitals and healthcare services to learn from patients, and improve as a result.
At the recent FTN conference Paul Hodgkin gave an excellent talk on how Patient Opinion is now working, and how Trusts should best engage with it.
Like many, we were a little wary at first – about the impact of stories and conversations that reflected badly on our services being played out in public. We responded, but cautiously.
Maybe we would have been less concerned if we knew then that 45% of all stories on Patient Opinion are Thank You’s? Now, perhaps prompted by their comment about using them in ‘homeopathic doses only’, we are engaging actively and finding it very rewarding indeed!
It is proving a positive experience overall. We are learning a lot and having good conversations, usually with satisfactory outcomes for both parties. You can search yourself, but there are some critical stories here and here and here, and some good ones here and here. Patient Opinion also provide some really useful reports – Stories in summary is one covering 49 stories over 4 months. You will see that these have been viewed 4766 times, by staff and members of the public!
One might ask why people take the trouble to leave on-line feedback?
At the same conference, Angus Struthers, Senior Director Global Communications at TripAdvisor, told us that most of the reviews they receive are positive with an average score of 4 out of 5. And the top three reasons for leaving feedback are …
1. “I feel good about sharing useful information with other travellers”
2. “I wanted to share a good experience with other travellers”
3. “I feel that I’m part of TripAdvisor’s travel social community”
Fascinating isn’t it? I would urge NHS organisations to put aside cycnicism, and wariness, and a tendency to secrecy, and instead to embrace this new world. It is generally positive, constructive, and helpful. It is ‘social’, and people mostly want dialogue, a genuine response, and action taken where necessary.
Paul Hodgkin told the conference that the ‘thoughtfully passionate’ people are key because they want to help improve services, and they are now easy to identify without significant financial cost to an organisation.
He reminded us too that …
“just putting current practice on-line doesn’t work”
“your response is as important as the comment”
“you are not in control”
“it’s about conversations not the data”
We have learned a lot, and some practical advice from me would be to always respond and be prepared to enter into dialogue, write personally and genuinely (not jargon or official complaints-speak), don’t be defensive, and do go back and describe the actions you have taken.
It is truly rewarding, I promise you. Give it a try!