Aon. Allied World.
Health.The Future State. Aon Health Symposium. 14 September 2017.

Introducing the voice of the patient: How two-way dialogue between patients and healthcare providers has the power to drive change

Speaker: Michael Greco – Patient Opinion Australia

CEO of Patient Opinion Australia, Michael Greco showed how patients are an underutilised resource, and engaging them can have powerful benefits. Connecting patients and service providers in human-to-human dialogue through an open, online public forum is a productive way to share experiences and learn from feedback to improve care. By acting on this feedback, healthcare providers can turn a negative experience into positive change.

Traditional approaches to patient data collection may not capture the full picture

With traditional patient feedback mechanisms typically one-way and focusing on data collection, there can be a tendency for patients to be viewed as data sources - and as a result, the voice of the patient may not be heard and all of the issues may not be captured. By combining quantitative data with qualitative stories, we can obtain a more holistic view of issues and opportunities and can take proactive action to address them.

The Patient Opinion approach

In an era of connectivity and social media, Patient Opinion’s mission is to make it safe and simple for people to ‘share their experience’ in a way that makes it easy for busy staff to connect with the authors of stories, and to learn from this type of feedback to help improve care.

The online platform is building relationships with patients and healthcare providers through public engagement and transparent, two-way dialogue. It facilitates human connection and human learning; with the receiver of care and healthcare providers able to engage in a productive way to openly share their stories, respond and learn from the feedback. This approach allows feedback to be more patient-centric, with patients moving from passive recipients of healthcare to active change agents.

Transparency is key to driving change

“If you are collecting patient feedback and not sharing it with all staff, then you will struggle to change culture.”
Michael Greco, CEO, Patient Opinion Australia

Patient Opinion aims to share stories with as many people as possible who can both learn from it and use it to make a difference; operating on the principle that the more people who are informed, the more people can be front-footed and drive change. With a focus on transparency and independence, interactions can be viewed and acted on by multiple sources such as State MP’s, government bodies and healthcare providers - right down to frontline staff.

While this is a fairly new approach for healthcare, the Patient Opinion experience is proving that a transparent approach has benefits for patients and healthcare providers:

  • Patients have the opportunity and confidence to share stories which otherwise may not have been heard
  • In many cases patients just want to have a voice to share their experience and make sure that others don’t have the same experience they did. By opening up a dialogue between the service and the patient, the consumer ‘feels heard’ and can see the outcome of their feedback – which can go a long way to help the healing process
  • Healthcare providers have the opportunity to respond, demonstrate empathy and make changes as a result of the learnings
  • With approximately 55% of dialogue on Patient Opinion relating to positive feedback, this transparency also serves to share ‘good news stories’ which can equally be used to motivate frontline staff and promote positive behavioural and process changes.

Taking action on feedback can turn a negative experience into a positive one

Through the experiences shared on Patient Opinion, it’s evidenced that even a negative interaction can be turned into a positive catalyst for change. By learning from patient experiences, healthcare providers are able to support staff learning through training, improved processes and enhanced communications skills. Those who listen to feedback and take action to address issues and opportunities have been seen to drive real, meaningful change – both for themselves, and for the patients they serve.