FFT upgrade and using data for emotional aspects training
Working in the health service we continually gather data. Data for reporting, planning, payment, audit, research, quality, and so on…….to canvass patient and public opinion, and to find out what patients really think of our services.
In 2013 – no longer confined to hotels, restaurants, and holidays customer quality rating surveys reached the NHS. The Friends and Family Test (FFT), a simple confidential tool gave patients the opportunity to recommend or express their dissatisfaction following an episode of NHS care. When patients rate our services they are ultimately telling us what they think of us.
Over the years FFT data has been used to compare Trust with Trust, been recycled into reports, used in graphics to demonstrate response rates and scores, posted onto organisation homepages and, in pockets of good practice, used to influence how services are run. This too has been displayed for friends and families to see how; taking time to comment on their experiences really does influence change.
Initial funding has supported the set-up and embedding of the FFT. Patient experience teams are familiar with the process and distribution of the response rates and results. At reporting time operational staff know what to expect when patient experience teams share the FFT feedback with managers; percentages and pages of comments – mostly good but some disappointingly negative. Trends, themes and comments are often discussed within ward and department teams, for awareness and action. Changes are made in some cases and the patient experience is improved.
Never-the-less as a patient experience lead it can be frustrating knowing that more could be achieved using the data already to hand if only the skills and tools were available. Looking at the emotional and relational aspects of care using this data can be just as revealing, indeed more so than looking at the process or transactional experiences along the patient pathway. These emotional experiences reveal the humanity of their journey.
Emotional and relational experiences tell us about the very personal aspects of a patient’s care pathway. How they were greeted and treated, the human factors. It is possible to trend comments by using the emotional language used by patients, not only from FFT but complaints and PALS inquires. This data, rich in experience, used and incorporated into reports can be really powerful. However what is even more powerful for staff receiving the information is if they recognise these emotional factors and how their interventions influence the relational aspect of the patient experience. After all most patient complaints and PALS inquiries describe what happened in hugely emotive language.
Understanding how each interaction, no matter how small, can change an experience is a powerful measure of the emotional maturity of a team. It supports the development of Quality Improvement strategies, crosses multidisciplinary teams and departments and provides staff with opportunities for personal development.
Having the right tool and technics is important and encourages staff confidence when using patient feedback. Using patient feedback as a positive to understanding what improves an experience does not necessarily need significant funding, resourcing or service change. Unsurprisingly a change to a greeting can transform an experience from poor to good in seconds but when commented on in patient feedback it’s generally glossed over as insignificant. Piece together the emotion of a patient journey and we find out how significant this trigger factor was to the whole event.
In all honesty we do not need more patient data. The need is to use the data we so carefully collect more effectively and efficiently. Train staff to understand the emotional journey as well as the process and how to understand the implications of their interventions – the cost free and softer interventions. Sounds simple. With a little effort it can be.