Title: Better Patient Feedback, Better Healthcare
Author: Dr Taher Mahmud
Publisher: M & K Publishing, 2012
Reviewer: Barbara O’Donnell, senior ODP, Whittington Health
What was it like?
From the title, many practitioners may ask what use this book is to staff who are already overstretched and having to find ever more resources in a climate of austerity and change. Isn’t this just another paper exercise designed to make things look better?
The author himself is a physician, and so it is a practical approach he brings to his passion for this subject, using real-life examples. He is also an award winner for his work in this area.
The area examined here is long-term health conditions and it is not clear about the effectiveness of the approaches outlined across all healthcare settings. He outlines the benefits of patient feedback , such as reduced clinic waiting times, improved patient satisfaction, increased throughput and increased quality of communication. Increased communication quality is seen as fundamental to these processes.
The author argues for keeping the patient as the central focus of planning and consistency in the feedback systems used across organisations. He provides blueprints for this while clarifying what needs to be taken into account in the setting up of such systems, whether on paper or online. The implementation of consistent feedback systems will generate small changes, which cumulatively add up to major changes in the long term. Arguably, with a system the size of the NHS, this long-term approach is key, especially given that 80% of healthcare budgets are made up of treatment of long-term health conditions.
From research conducted in the military, there is evidence to suggest that accurate data collation is the main method by which patient outcomes are improved, and these same principles are being used here.
What were the highlights?
This is a detailed examination in a fairly concise format. The differing perspectives (doctor/patient/regulatory body/national healthcare vision) that are taken into account enhance the arguments made.
Strengths & weaknesses:
I would have liked to have seen more discussion on the barriers to implementation of such systems.
This approach may tie in well with the Expert Patient Programme; involving patients more fully in feedback processes to improve their care and empowering them to cope better.
At times, this feels a little like Psychology 101. Some of the ideas outlined here may already be familiar to certain groups of healthcare professionals.
The subject of burn-out for both patients and healthcare providers is touched upon.
In light of the NHS Institute’s NHS Patient Feedback, this is a timely publication.
Who should read it?
This book would be useful to anyone involved in service planning and implementation, all healthcare practitioners and information management personnel.