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Reflections from a hospital CEO about implementing Patient Opinion

Update from Care Opinion Australia

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Using the online Patient Opinion platform has been one of the best things that we have done at Eastern Health and enables us to truly listen, understand and respond to all things patient experience.  It is part of our comprehensive “In the Patient’s Shoes” Patient Experience of Care program.

I love the up, close and personal contact with patients and carers telling their very personal stories and it really does keep me and our organisation closely connected with what matters to patients.

One of the greatest hurdles in getting the best value out of Patient Opinion is the acceptance that the feedback is real.  As people working in the health system -who are so committed to always doing and ensuring the best possible care - we sometimes struggle to accept that perhaps we can or need to do things better and even more, that patients know more about their experience than we do!

I love the simplicity with which the feedback can be provided and we always respond within 24 hours of receiving a new story.  This is really important as it’s the first sign to the story-teller that we are taking their feedback seriously.  And when we respond, we don’t have to know all the details or all the answers, we just need to let story-tellers know that we are listening. I also say to staff that if we question the feedback when things can be improved then we shouldn’t so willingly accept the feedback when things go well.  I also suggest that unless any of us have passed the “welcome to perfection” sign, then all feedback is welcome!

Once our response has been published, we then send the story-link to our staff and encourage them to share and/or provide further information so that we can provide further updates to the story-tellers.  It’s quick and easy and I also set a reminder if I have committed to further follow-up with the story-teller or my own credibility will slide very quickly.

As a result of Patient Opinion feedback, we have made so many changes that I can honestly say we would never have done in the normal course of business  as in many cases, we simply didn’t know about the issues !  I pride myself on knowing our organisation and what we do but I can honestly say that using Patient Opinion has been a reminder that I can’t possibly know everything  that I don’t know !   So Patient Opinion has been a welcome extra set of eyes in our organisation and I am just so glad that it gets better and better everyday.

I have also really enjoyed working with the team at Patient Opinion, a cracking  group of people always willing to help when we have more delicate issues to deal with. Thanks Patient Opinion for always keeping us honest and committed to always walking “In the patient’s shoes”.

Mr Alan Lilly

Former CEO, Eastern Health Victoria

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