April McFarland talks about capturing patient experience in general practice: If you don’t ask you don’t care?

Engaging in a meaningful way with patients as to how services could be improved requires commitment, training and resource but most importantly a genuine desire to know. If you don’t ask in a systematic way that allows you to act on that data, do you really care? New Zealand is lagging behind in this space compared to countries like the UK where there has been a national drive for a few years to capture the patient voice. Whilst there is a national survey on its way for primary care, we would argue this is asking questions when we want the feedback i.e. annually, not neccesarily when the patient wants to feedback.

We’re delighted that fourteen of our network practices have leased Push My Button terminals to capture patients experience in real time. These are the first practices in New Zealand to capture the patient experience in this way. Practices who engage patients to feedback about their services send a strong message that their feedback is important for improving quality.

The terminal enables patients to express how they feel about their experience whilst they are in the practice “HappyOrNot” by simply pushing a button. Obvlously this just ‘takes the temperature’ but will signal to a practice when something is not right so they can explore further. And the process needs to be part of a broader framework that engages patients in feedback and co-design. See our Patient Partner page.

The patients are asked if they were happy or not about their experience at the time of their practice visit. The question will relate to a specific aspect of their service or care during their visit and will change on a monthly basis. The information collected from patients will be analysed and reported to the practice via e- mail. They can also log on to the website and review their feedback as frequently as they wish. Practices are able to display findings in a variety of ways for example on the patient feedback boards and/ or during their practice meetings/ website or newsletters.

Feeding back the improvements following the survey acknowledges their patients have a voice and are working in partnership with their health professionals. And patients have fed back that just being given the opportunity to press the button indicates them to that, yes, their practice does care!