Saturday, 16 February 2013

The friends/family test is moronic rubbish


"From April 2013 all patients will be asked a simple question to identify if they would recommend a particular A&E department or ward to their friends and family. The results of the test will be used to improve the experience of patients by providing timely feedback alongside other sources of patient feedback. It will highlight priority areas for action."

For any of you who didn't know already, the government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to bring in a new test, the 'friends and family' (FF) test.  One would think that if lots of money were to be spent on introducing a new test like this, it would have been well tested, validated and confirmed to be of meaning in health care.  One would think that, but with the government this is often not the case, it appears that these kind of hare brained ideas are plucked from the back side of some uneducated inexpert 'special' adviser and then forced on hospitals up and down the country, without even the glance of an expert, without even a thought that this may not be a great idea.  

Sadly for us, as tax paying members of the public, the FF test is a complete waste of our money, unless Jeremy Hunt knows something that the academic experts do not know, something I think is rather unlikely, I have seen insects with more intelligence than the insincere smug Hunt.  This is taken from a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine:

" Limiting patient-experience measurement to a single dimension may exclude the interactions that most strongly affect experiences and outcomes. This fact alone could explain why many studies show no relation between outcomes and patient experiences."

Patient surveys to measure satisfaction are excellent tools to measure various aspects of their care, there is no doubt of this, the problem is that there are certain things one must do for one's questions to lead to meaningful answers and the FF test simply fails to do these.

The FF test is one general, vague and therefore meaningless, and useless way of gathering information about the quality of health care received by patients.  It is not focused on specific aspects of the care, it is therefore likely to result in answers that are of no meaning at all, as the answers will be skewed by so many things that may or may not be of any relevance at all.  The FF test is also unvalidated in health care, it has been plucked from business and just thrown into the NHS without any testing in this context.

So the end result of all this is that a lot of completely meaningless data will be gathered and analysed to give a lot of meaningless results, and a lot of our money will have been wasted in the process.  Sadly rather than consult any of the UK's academic experts in patient satisfaction, the Department of Health has acted on the whim of an idiot or idiots.  Typical lazy slack jawed work, how very depressing.

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