Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has launched an app to allow patients to give feedback in real-time.

Children, young people and their families can send their thoughts and comments directly to a ward with the click of a button.

The message, which is anonymous, goes to the manager in charge and a message is sent to the patient’s phone saying what action has been taken.

The trust believes the app is the first of its kind in the NHS.

Michelle McLoughlin, chief nurse and project lead, told eHealth Insider that the project was about getting feedback and being able to do something about it.

“We work with young people who are very up to date with technology. They are interested in technology and we wanted to find a way for them to be interested in leaving feedback,” she said.

“We didn’t want this to be a gimmick, we wanted it to be something that was actually useful for both patients and staff.”

Regardless of the feedback being positive or negative, the comment is made public on the trust’s website. “It’s about transparency,” McLoughlin said.

The app has been developed in partnership with Digital Life Sciences. It was piloted in two wards and is now being rolled out across the hospital.

“We’re about three quarters of the way through. We’re doing it in specific areas, but we also get feedback from wards where we haven’t rolled it out,” said McLoughlin.

One of the issues during the trial was that staff were not sure how to use smartphone apps.

“One of the things we realised is that although many of them have iPhones, they don’t know how to use the technical bits,” she said.

”We had to give staff extra confidence in using it and give them proper training. That wasn’t something we expected.”

She added that once they had been properly trained, getting real-time feedback made staff want to improve services.

“The nurses really want to get it right. They see the value of it and see that we can improve the outcomes,” she said.

The app also has a ratings function, enabling the hospital to see how likely patients and families say they would be to recommend the hospital as a place to be treated, in line with the ‘friends and family test’.

It can be downloaded for free and works on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and android devices.