A hospital trust in the Midlands has become the first in the NHS to launch a real-time feedback system for patients, with comments posted directly to its website.
Patients, families and visitors to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust can use a free app on their smartphone to post their thoughts, complaints and compliments about the trust immediately.
If it proves a success the project could be a trailblazer for similar feedback applications, as part of a wider plan to increase the patient voice across the NHS.
The feedback app allows an anonymous message to be sent direct to the ward manager in charge who can then address any concerns raised. The message is also publicly displayed on the trust’s website.
Trust chief nursing officer Michelle McLoughlin, who has been leading the project said: “The app enables us to gather feedback in a way that our patients and families want to give it ,so we know immediately what we are getting right and what we need to improve to make their time with us the best it can be.
“Staff have embraced the technology and find it so rewarding to see the feedback from their patients and families and be able to respond straight away.”
She said the app was not a “gimmick” and other trusts could benefit from using it.
One of the trust’s ward managers, Sue Davies, added: “What I think is particularly good is that we can send a reply back to them quickly to acknowledge their comments and let them know what we have done in response.
“It shows that we take their views seriously and they don’t just disappear into a black hole.”
The app has been developed by Digital Life Sciences supported by NHS Midlands and East. It is expected to cost £100,000 over seven years.
It has been trialled on two wards but will now be rolled out across the trust.
The app also features a ratings function, as part of the national Friends and Family test, which allows the trust to analyse emerging themes or issues.
Messages are moderated as they go live on the hospital website to protect staff and patients, and to ensure medical details and offensive language are removed.
Since the project launched, the majority of messages posted have been positive about the trust.
Some have raised concerns including one parent who revealed a mix-up over medical notes involving two children with the same name.
They said: “I am now worried that this could have happened before. I would like all the notes to be checked.”
Another said they were “very disappointed” with the attitude of the triage nurse who the family felt did not listen and “objected to every word we said”.
A response posted a few hours later apologised and asked the family to contact the lead nurse.
Another post said the hospital was “let down badly by a poor planning and scheduling system” in its outpatients department that left families and children waiting too long.
One message typical of many said: “With all the news about NHS standards of care (Stafford hospital) I can only say the care you gave us is completely at the other end of the scale.
“The nursing staff in Ward 10 are exceptional in the lengths they go to administer care in what is a very demanding ward.”