Could Care Opinion work in your country too?

Question from Care Opinion

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picture of James Munro

After 14 years of running an online patient and carer feedback service for the UK, we’ve learned a lot about the benefits created by our open and relational approach to feedback.

We know that many story authors value the chance to share their experience, receive a response, and see how their story makes a difference to the care of others. We’ve seen staff learn from these stories, gain new insight and confidence, and improve their services. We’ve seen the morale of teams lift. We’ve seen the culture of organisations move slowly to become less defensive, more transparent. We’ve seen trust restored.

Care Opinion in NHS Highland

There’s no reason to think that these benefits can occur only in the UK health system. And indeed, the team running Care Opinion in Australia, just celebrating their seventh birthday, are seeing the same impacts there. Benefits for patients, carers, staff and organisations. Care Opinion is now used in public hospitals across Western Australia, supported by the state government, and gaining support. Safer Care Victoria is trialling the platform in a number of area health services across the state: Care Opinion is part of their ‘Partnering in healthcare framework’.

We also provide Care Opinion in Ireland. So far, we’ve struggled to gain traction with the majority of health services but in the limited services where Care Opinion is used, we’re seeing the same kind of impacts.

Learning to date

Comparing experiences across these countries, and indeed across the four systems of the UK, we can already begin to draw some conclusions:

  • Although health systems vary widely by country, the need for a more open approach to feedback in healthcare appears widespread
  • The main barriers to adopting Care Opinion seem to be fear, an unwillingness to give up control, or a firm belief in the adequacy of existing complaints systems
  • Because these barriers are very common, progress everywhere has been slow and requires strong and determined advocates for change, usually with personal experience of the inadequacy of existing systems
  • In some places, the support of political leaders has allowed online feedback to develop further and faster than elsewhere
  • Much depends on the willingness of senior health/care leaders, including clinical leaders, to support the move to a more open and relational approach

All things considered, we think that Care Opinion could work well in many more health systems, producing a wide range of benefits at relatively low cost.

Sharing Care Opinion more widely

In recent months we’ve been talking with clinicians, policymakers, QI people, patient activists, academics and educators in six more countries who have been asking: “what would it take to run Care Opinion here?

We’ve set down an outline of what’s needed to do this in our partner prospectus, which we’ll update as we learn more.

Care Opinion partner prospectus

At the end of this month, we’ll have the opportunity to meet people from many more countries at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, run by the IHI, in Glasgow.

This is a good place to be sharing Care Opinion, because Scotland in particular has taken a system-wide view of public online feedback and as a result has started to see impacts right across the health system.

If you’re interested in this work and you are at the IHI forum this month, do come and talk to us. And if you can’t be at the forum but would like to talk, do get in touch.

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