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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Lees, Edgecumbe

5 ways medical organisations can avoid the costs of doing colleague and patient feedback poorly

Updated: Jul 6, 2023


Patient feedback

360-degree feedback can be an invaluable tool for doctors and the medical organisations they work for, but only if the process is done properly. Here are five ways to ensure that you get the most out of your colleague and patient feedback assessments:

1. Understand that the aim goes far beyond ticking a box

Before even starting, invest in the time and training to ensure your doctors are prepared to change their behaviour in response to the feedback. The aim of this type of feedback is not to simply check off that a doctor is still fit to practice but to provide a more holistic view of the doctor’s performance. It can help identify areas that need improvement but can also help to build trust and transparency within the medical community. When properly adopted, the collective insights from colleagues and patients can be viewed as milestones throughout a doctor’s career, providing an illustration of their performance at that point in time, whilst also giving direction to their plan for progression. The more a doctor engages with those insights, and is seen to act upon them, the more fulfilling they and their stakeholders will find their work.

2. Use a questionnaire that has statistical reliability

Statistical reliability is required to ensure the validity and precision of an instrument. It refers to ‘the ability to reproduce the results again and again as required,’ which is important because it ‘builds trust’ in the results of the exercise. Feedback questionnaires may be developed and piloted, but without the statistical assurance of a generalisability study, valuable participant, colleague, and patient time could be wasted answering questions that don’t have the integrity to produce meaningful and actionable results. So, check that any questionnaire you use has been thoroughly tested.


3. Ensure that all stakeholders have a voice

Make sure that colleagues from different disciplines and job roles are involved in the feedback process. 360-degree feedback ‘broadens the range of inputs into the performance review by including those who have worked with the employees in different contexts.’ Likewise, only selecting colleagues and patients who you know will give favorable reviews will be detrimental to obtaining the constructive feedback that will guide your development plan. Instead, encourage colleagues and patients to be open and honest, make full use of the rating scale, and provide supporting comments and examples of development areas where appropriate. This will result in a much richer and more tangible set of results to reflect on and work from at the end of the process.


4. Don’t cut corners

Doctors are extremely busy professionals, and it can be tempting for medical organisations to trim down or overlook the bureaucracy of colleague and patient feedback to reduce administrative effort and grievances from adversaries. However, the long-term impacts of skimping on the details (such as gaining input from a sufficient number of respondents and ensuring patient feedback is collected by a third party, where able) are not only negative at the level of the individual doctor’s professional development but can be catastrophic at the level of organisational performance. This is the level at which the irreversible costs of poor healthcare and patient safety are felt and where it becomes clearer that they could have been prevented at the grass-roots level.

5. Utilise the data

Quality 360 feedback exercises provide evidence-based insights that are apprising not just at the individual level, but at the team and designated body levels too. Analysis of aggregated colleague and patient feedback data can produce valuable information for recruitment decisions and organisational development plans, as well as clear illustrations of organisational performance year on year. Medical organisations are consistently accruing but often missing out on this enlightening data. By leveraging that real-time performance-based insight, medical organisations can create a development route that is both introspective and progressive.

For more information and advice on how to save time, effort, and costs by doing colleague and patient feedback properly, please contact:

0117 332 8277

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