It was only at the tail end of 2014 whereby the CQC explained how the NHS must move from a defensive culture to one where staff has a willingness to listen and learn when it comes the handling of complaints.

Some important points relating to the handling of complaints include:

  • Managing feedback, concerns and complaints in real time, at the ward.
  • Encouraging feedback, especially though social media.
  • Using insight from complaints to improve patient’s experience.

There are many more aspects to consider from a training, encouraging and empowerment aspect, however, we have isolated and are focussed on the above three factors because they all have a data implication. It is unequivocally important to have a seamless data flow, from the point at which complaints data is collected to actioning complaints on the basis of the data analysed. It is one-sided to equip staff to encourage complaints from patients whilst giving them the reassurance that there will be no implication on future care without having a healthy and active complaints procedure that data can flow through, once a patient does lodge a complaint.

There are many options available for a patient to lodge a complaint. This may include a complaint form, but usually patients will either write a formal complaint or even take to social media to air their concerns either during or post discharge. To use complaints data to improve future patient experience, there should be a mechanism to collate data that comes inbound through many different sources.

Complaints need to be acted on at a two-tier level, firstly resolving individual complaints in real time, which is when the patient is still in care. The second level is at management level, using the mass amounts of complaints data to make wholesale changes organisation-wide. For example, a single complaint may be about cleanliness in a specific ward, which is acted on immediately by cleaning the ward area. At a management level, one may see that cleanliness is a trust wide issue and this will have larger implications such as changing cleaning supplier or the cleaning products used. Monitoring data at both tiers is important. If there is only focus on the individual then large scale issues will not be identified and vice versa, an emphasis on the bigger picture will mean anything granular will be missed.

The crux of the complaints issue is to make the data available in real time, particular for management reporting. It is of little use having an end of month complaints review in June and acting upon all the issues that have surfaced in June in the following month. It is too late by then.

The solution to the problem is what is called a ‘performance dashboard’ in the corporate world, but essentially it is a tool that can be used to analyse and monitor trends in complaints in real time by ingesting complaints data as it comes in. A performance dashboard hits two birds with one stone because it is interactive thus possessing the capability to switch between the two tiers at a click of a button.

As a result, it equips and empowers staff to easily view and act on the data immediately, is used to improve a patients experience on a daily basis as well on a wider scale and can account for external data from social media and so forth.

We work by the notion of “seeing is believing”. At our disposal we have performance dashboards that demonstrate the value they bring to the management of complaints data. We can provide interested users with a free login to use the dashboard themselves.

For any questions or to book a demonstration, contact us.