Patient feedback in Northern Ireland

by Rebecca Walsh

Have you given feedback on Health and Social Care Services in Northern Ireland? Check out our Insight Report for details of the Lab’s recent findings on patient feedback.

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Tripadvisor, Amazon, Which? and Yelp are just some of the customer review websites that we rely on every day to decide where we stay, what to eat, what we buy and what services we use. It didn’t surprise me to read that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Health and Social Care (HSC) is the largest service provider in Northern Ireland. So why do we know less about the experiences of people using our local hospitals than those using our local hotels?

Many organisations, including the Patient and Client Council, have posed this question to the Department of Health NI (DoH) and it has been addressed in the Health and Wellbeing 2026 report published in October 2016. Within the report there was a commitment to consult the public and to design a new online feedback platform for HSC services in Northern Ireland.

As part of the consultation phase, the NI Innovation Lab was asked to engage with citizens and Thought Leaders to understand how they felt about the development of a feedback system, so we took to the streets to ask the public what they thought.

We found that there was overwhelming support for an online real-time system, but not to give negative feedback as you might imagine. The majority of people we spoke to were positive about HSC services. In many of the comments, the public understood the pressure staff are under and they wanted to say ‘thank-you’ for the care they received. Existing feedback mechanisms in HSC are generally limited to providing negative feedback and complaints. There is very little opportunity for the public to speak positively about services.

An online feedback system will not replace the need for a complaints procedure but will give people the opportunity to tell someone about their negative experiences as well as negative outcomes.

The Lab also spoke to several Thought Leaders in the health care system who gave us valuable insight into the wrap around service needed to make an online feedback system a success. They explained how data from a feedback system can be analysed for patterns and trends and how this data can be used to improve the patients overall experiences.

The Insight Report produced by the Lab details all our findings and recommendations for the design of the system. Based on these recommendations, the user need and the commitment to deliver this system in the Health and Wellbeing report, we are excited follow the design process through to implementation.

We would like to thank everyone who spoke to us during the insight gathering phase of the project. We are pleased that the report has been very well received by everyone involved. I hope you find the report as interesting as we found the project.