Following the successful launch of the friends and family test into primary and secondary care services, dental practices providing treatment commissioned by NHS England will have to offer patients the opportunity to give feedback using the friends and family test from 1 April 2015.
What is the friends and family test?
The friends and family test is continuous rather than a traditional one-off survey. Patients must be able to give feedback after every interaction with the practice, and anyone on the practice list should be able to complete the test at any time. It is up to the individual practice how it promotes the test and how it collects responses.
So, why should you bother? Apart from the obvious contractual obligation you should embrace this because patient feedback or views on your practice will give you invaluable insight and help you improve your business.
How do I implement the friends and family test?
NHS England has published guidance on how the test should be implemented. The friends and family test is anonymous and practices must use the standard wording and responses of the primary question (see below). They must also include at least one follow-up question of their own choice, which allows the opportunity to provide free text.
The primary friends and family test question is: ’We would like you to think about your recent experiences of our service. How likely are you to recommend our dental practice to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?’
The responses are: Extremely likely; Likely; Neither likely nor unlikely; Unlikely; Extremely unlikely; Don’t know.
NHS England will publish the results of the initial question centrally each month, while the practice will be expected to publish its results locally, including responses to the follow-up question or questions. Patients must have the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of having any comments they make made public.
Practices will also be expected to give feedback to patients on what happens to their responses, particularly where action has been taken as a direct result of the feedback received.
If implemented well and the practice team and patients are engaged properly from the outset, the friends and family test can really enhance your understanding of your practice; identifying successes to celebrate as well as ways to improve.