A prototype feedback service that will become part of the integrated customer service platform being developed by the NHS Commissioning Board was on show at the NHS innovation Expo 2013.
Jane Barnacle, director for patients and information at NHS London, said the alpha launch of the platform was planned for May.
It would involve a feedback service to be piloted with patient groups in London and parts of the North East. This will sit on NHS Choices and the myhealthlondon site.
She said the new feedback model was based on the 311 service in the United States where people could call, text or use social media to report issues with local services.
The prototype of the feedback service shown to EHI at the Innovation Expo featured a number of ‘calls to action.’
Patients could select, ‘problems that need fixing’, ‘leave a review’ and ‘I have got a question about NHS services’.
If a patient makes a complaint, the issue will be logged and they will be given a unique identifying code. A marker signalling the issue appears on a ‘heat map’ of NHS services with different colours highlighting whether it is open, being processed or has been resolved.
Barnacle said people could not make complaints anonymously. While their name would not appear on a public website, they had to provide their details so they could be contacted by the relevant NHS organisation about resolving the issue.
The new feedback and information service will initially be available online, but then extended to telephone and text, by integrating with the NHS 111 non-emergency health line.
Barnacle said non-clinical NHS Direct staff would manage the calls regarding information and feedback about the NHS.
“111 would be the number for this. The first question will be, ‘do you have an urgent clinical care need?’ and if not callers will be routed to regular call handlers,” she explained.
In this way, the customer service platform would act as a single point of entry to send patients in the right direction, taking pressure off other NHS services.
“It will take pointless questions away from GPs and hospitals and will deal with these questions quickly, like a broker, to take a patient’s need and quickly route them to a place where they can be helped,” Barnacle added.
She said the feedback pilots would run under the NHS Choices brand which was already well known, but this would eventually morph into the integrated customer service platform.
The full platform is due to be launched in Autumn and does not yet have a name.
Barnacle said the aim was to build something more modern and accessible than NHS Choices, but retain the good parts of it.
“It will be like logging on to online banking, saying ‘do you want to talk to the NHS? do you want to book an appointment or download an app or log into your account’?” she said.
“It will give you search results which are relevant to you and other things people in your position have found useful.”