Customer insight and technology

All this stuff I’ve been banging on about customer focused services is really important, but to get good customer insight you have to take the rough with the smooth. That’s risky for politicians of course but it still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

See NHS choices. You can comment on your experience of medical care in the NHS. I’ll say that again, you can rate your local hospital. If anything is going to drive change in the NHS it is giving power to the patients. Good on my colleagues at health for having the courage to do this.

12 comments ↓

#1 Bob on 04.18.08 at 8:28 am

Tom, if you’re an advocate of citizen engagement through technology you should check out what these fellows have to say.
You may have an opinion…

http://intellect.computing.co.uk/2008/04/share-and-share.html

http://intellect.computing.co.uk/2008/03/why-not.html

#2 alex on 04.18.08 at 1:25 pm

Tom

The NHS offering is a senseless duplication of a far better web-site set up as an independent and caring opportunity for people to comment.

It is called Patient Opinion and can be found here

http://www.patientopinion.org.uk/

Until Ministers support their electorate by enabling people to comment on independent sites, and stop crowding out innovation and social entrepreneurs, by spending large amounts of our money on duplicates, we will simply see your blog as party political propaganda a.k.a. spin.

This is a shame as you seem to be trying hard.

#3 Martin Rathfelder on 04.18.08 at 2:44 pm

Rating your health services is a first class idea, but NHS Choices doesn’t do it very well. http://www.patientopinion.org.uk/ seems better. Apart from anything else it is independent of the NHS, and it has built in feedback to NHS organisations. Rating in itself doesn’t get us very far. Specific information about patient experiences is more useful.

#4 osimod on 04.18.08 at 4:17 pm

Customer insight is indeed essential, but are government websites the best place to collect it? Public forums are often empty and conversations happen outside public websites.
Also, there is a risk when you implement such solution of creating confusion with existing initiatives such as PatientOpinion, which are already doing a great job in collecting and managing feedback.
Having 2 places to publish feedback does not double the participation, but most likely reduces it to less than half.

#5 William on 04.18.08 at 4:42 pm

But hang on Tom. why don’t we just use Patient Opinion which is there already, set up by doctors, and where the data we all contribute is independently held under a Creative Commons licence? Why reinvent this wheel, at considerable expense, less well? Why put this portion of the £25m a year we’re putting into NHS Choices into damaging a singularly succesful independent NGO when we could put a fraction of the money into supporting it? Do we really think people will be happier to submit their opinions (and submit more helpful opinions) to a Secretary-of-state-controlled/NHS controlled service whose data is then exploited commercially by some Serco/Dr-Fostery outfit than they would to something visibly independent, not for profit and evidently fit for purpose as Patient Opinion? I cant help feeling that pursuing this path is leaving a bit of an open goal for HM loyal Opposition.

#6 Tom on 04.19.08 at 1:19 pm

Interesting points,thank all once again. I’ll take a look at the patient opinion issue. I’m sure my colleagues over at health value what they do.

#7 Charlotte on 04.19.08 at 4:17 pm

The approach being used in regard to patient feedback raises a more general point about the current approach to “participatory democracy”. It is very understandable that any government should want to exercise some control over how we the voters/ consumers/ citizens exercise our influence. But by choosing to have the feedback process within the NHS rather than with an independent but doctor-led provider, you send out a message which will further disillusion those who are already distrustful of all that government does. All the documentation and e-messages currently extolling community involvement seem to me to focus on encouraging citizens to have their say about an agenda which the government has devised. They focus on “participation” and “governance” but not on community action.

There now exceptionally good research available to show that you can only get really beneficial changes in attitude and responsible community action when citizens are allowed the freedom to forge their own solutions with appropriate facilitation and very small amounts of funding. Social enterprises and social entrepreneurs are part of that process and need to be strongly encouraged. State takeover and public bureaucratisation, as well as the dreaded “rollout”, are all the kiss of death to community renewal.

#8 Rob Greenland on 04.21.08 at 10:34 am

I’d have to agree with what’s been said before. Patient Opinion as an independent site has far more credibility than NHS Choices will ever have. The State talks “partnership” constantly – yet all too often still believes that it has to do things itself, even when others are already doing something perfectly well.

#9 Nnamdi on 04.21.08 at 11:21 am

Patient Opinion is a social enterprise and is focused and independent, with a complete feedback loop back to the originating services. NHS choices would indeed do better work with them to incorporate the information that P O already does a great job of collecting.

#10 Lee on 04.21.08 at 12:30 pm

No, Tom. If your colleagues at Health valued what http://www.patientopinion.org are doing then they would not threaten their existence by spending obscene amounts of money at very high rates for commercial organisations to recreate a poor copy of the site. PO offered to provide the service, but I understand there was a strong desire to keep this in-house rather than work with an independent social enterprise.

Government sites are not the ideal place for citizens to share personal info, let alone Government sites run by dodgy (according to the NAO) private sector joint ventures.

(Disclosure: my company helped create the first version of PO)

Thanks for raising it, and also for the effort you put into your great blog!

#11 Andrew on 04.22.08 at 5:03 pm

Actually having compared both sites, I believe that informed health service users need both Patient Opinion and NHS Choices, but the latter should not be trying to do everything and end up not doing some things very well. Patient Opinion does what it says on the tin, is easy to navigate and – importantly- has good credibility by being outside the NHS brand as a social enterprise. NHS Choices has tremendous potential as an information portal and the way in for Choose and Book. There is still some way to go before it is fit for purpose about long term conditions, particularly neurological ones, but it is getting better. I found the navigation clunky using the search box. But Choices should not be the primary source for user views. Patient Opinion should be the respected and independent brand for the voice of the user. I hope that the new Local Invovlement Networks (LINks) will point people towards Patient Opinion as well as “Choices”. We need both to be informed consumers.

#12 Ian Cuddy on 04.24.08 at 3:17 pm

‘Government should ensure it does not duplicate the efforts of pre-existing user-generated sites…The non-profit organisation Patient Opinion, which seeks to enable patients’ sharing of healthcare experiences and to influence health policy, has expressed concern that government may be replicating their service. They report that the first time they heard about the parallel and government-led ‘user voice’ function was through a published article. This is poor practice, for several reasons…”

The Power of Information Review, Cabinet Office

http://www.commentonthis.com/powerofinformation/#marker10732

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