Whose feedback is it anyway?

Question from Care Opinion

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picture of James Munro

At our Care Opinion Scotland conference last week there were plenty of examples of how people are using the stories people share online for learning and change, from a whole range of perspectives. The discussions reminded me of why making feedback public can be so important.

In traditional feedback systems (physical or digital suggestion boxes, surveys, comment cards and the like), you and I can’t actually see the feedback people are sharing.

Indeed, many organisations think that it’s “their feedback”: they own it, and if you’re lucky, they might share it (but probably not all of it). 

At Care Opinion, we see it differently.

First, from a legal perspective it’s the author’s feedback: the author owns it and can withdraw it at any time if they wish.

Second, the stories people post are often about more than one health/care provider, so they can't "belong" to any one organisation.

Third, because people share their feedback online to inform other patients, praise services and help improve care for all, they are writing for everyone. Everyone can read the stories being shared, and everyone can get something of value, according to their own perspective and their own needs.

Open online feedback can create multiple and diverse benefits

Leaving aside the learning happening within the organisations the feedback is about, here are a few examples I’ve seen recently of people learning from the feedback shared openly on Care Opinion:

  1. Service users recognising that problems using a service might not be their fault
  2. Patients assessing how responsive services are likely to be
  3. Third sector organisations using stories to tackle stigma associated with mental health issues
  4. Employers highlighting good feedback in attracting new staff
  5. Students reading feedback to learn about ethical and legal issues in care
  6. Analysis of experiences of waiting times, to inform a report on national policy

Because traditional feedback methods are not open, they don’t enable this kind of widespread and diverse public benefit.

Care Opinion has been providing an open feedback platform for 15 years - and yet, closed feedback methods still remain the standard approach to feedback across almost all of the NHS. And you have to wonder: why?

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