Last week my new neighbour asked if I could recommend my GP practice.
Yes I did recommend it but the recommendation came with clarifications about which GP was good with children, which one listened and which was quick if you had something fairly straight forward. Not a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
Currently the NHS is asking patients whether they would be happy for their friends and family to be treated by their service in a test which will be used to compare trusts’ performance. These so called net promoter scores are used in the independent sector to measure the quality of services in competitive industries.
When I first heard about the family and friends test I was sceptical. Is it possible to measuring satisfaction with healthcare in the same way as buying a tin of baked bean or getting my car serviced? My scepticism was confirmed last week when research raised doubts about the “friends and family” test as a single indicator of patient experience.
The research published by the Picker Institute Europe and Care Quality Commission found that people didn’t understand what they were supposed to be recommending, and “some interviewees gave high scores despite describing very poor experiences to the interviewer”.
Researchers did find one question which worked well, in which patients were asked to score their overall experience of care from “0 (I had a very poor experience) to 10 (I had a very good experience)”.
It seems to me that NHS is continually searching for new ways of asking people about their experiences of healthcare. But why roll out a scheme like this and then do the research to find out if the right question is being asked?
Front line staff need to know how they are doing and if they are getting it right for the people in their care. Net promoter scores tick the box labeled consumerism but considerable time and effort goes into collecting this information and if we are asking the wrong questions the information is useless both to patients and staff.