Why I believe in Patient Opinion

Update from Care Opinion Australia

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picture of Natasha Kingston

I started working with Patient Opinion at the beginning of February. My position involves moderating stories and working on social media to share milestones and shout outs for different health services.

It wasn’t until our first team meeting where I heard about some of the concerns some service providers' have expressed about participating in public, online patient feedback via Patient Opinion. We understand that some of these services may be worried about receiving negative feedback, especially when that feedback is able to be viewed on a public forum.

That’s when I decided to write this blog; in bed, at midnight, my mind whirling with the busyness of being a new mum and the excitement of a new job, with a 6-month-old baby due to awaken in a few hours… but I am so energised about what Patient Opinion can do, that I wanted to share this with you from an employee’s perspective, not only to services unsure about this concept but also for current subscribers who want a refresher about why we do what we do.

Coming into this role, I was aware of the organisation’s purpose but I had no idea about the effect it has on the services we receive stories for - a positive effect that is. Being new to any workplace, you know the first month is information overload but I am going to share with you what I have learnt since joining Patient Opinion … what I have seen and how I honestly and genuinely feel about this avenue of patient feedback.

What to expect when being involved with patient opinion:

Positive patient experiences:

These stories would make up much of what comes through our site. I have had the privilege of reading and sharing these on our site since I started. The responses these stories have received from the service providers really shows the impact the feedback has on staff. I believe it motivates and encourages them to continue their hard work and care for patients, especially if the stories mention specific staff members’ names. Check out this story as an example: https://www.patientopinion.org.au/75329

Constructive criticism:

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Now don’t be scared off by the word criticism. Without this kind of feedback, service providers would not know which areas/aspects of their service need attention and improvement. There is nothing wrong with that. Like the saying goes 'there is always room for improvement' and this feedback just helps you pinpoint how to go about improving.

The whole process, from the story, through to the responses from the service provider indicating when a change is planned and then making the planned change, allows the patient to feel heard and appreciated while also allowing the service to make changes when required. This story is a perfect example: https://www.patientopinion.org.au/75375

Lead by the passionate Assoc. Professor Michael Greco

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Our CEO and, in my eyes, our motivational speaker. The passion he has for the healthcare system and the online patient feedback forum is unreal.

From day one, when I listen to why Michael fully supports this idea, I really understand how and why it can improve the health care system. He motivates our close-knit team by believing in what Patient Opinion is about.

You know when you go to buy a car - how often does the salesman tell you all the things they think you want to hear without really caring about the car they are selling you? Well, the opposite can be said about Michael. His passion and enthusiasm makes you not only want to buy the car, but you’re also ready to buy the whole fleet.

When Michael talks about Patient Opinion and why it is an important avenue to lead to health care improvement, you really do start to believe and support the same vision because it’s honest information and from the heart… unlike that car salesman.

To wrap up – because I feel I could talk all day…

You may be thinking – I’m an employee of Patient Opinion so I am just trying to upsell. But I have used health services too. I’ve been in the Emergency Departments of multiple hospitals for myself, I’ve had operations, I am a mum and have given birth at a hospital. I have taken my baby to Children’s Emergency Hospitals. If I had known about Patient Opinion many moons ago, I would have jumped at the opportunity to share my experiences - some being good, some not so.

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- Have the patient or consumer tell their story with the freedom and comfort of anonymity.

- Let the patient or consumer be heard by the specific service provider.

- Have the service provide a response to the storyteller, addressing the issues in the story. Sometimes the service provider may implement a change to improve their current services.

- Get people talking.

In my opinion – pardon the play on words - that is much easier and reassuring than sending an email to a “compliments/complaints department” to get nothing back. This way, whether positive or negative the storyteller and service have a voice.

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