The virtual consumer voice: connecting with country consumers online to improve services

The virtual consumer voice: connecting with country consumers online to improve services Conference Paper

14th National Rural Health Conference: A World of Rural Health

  • Author(s): Jones, K, Waters, M
  • Secondary Author(s): Coleman, Leanne
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: National Rural Health Alliance

Abstract: In December 2015, the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) began a one year pilot project across three of its regions to implement Patient Opinion, as an accessible, anonymous, and independently moderated online avenue for country consumers to share their health care stories: good and bad. Because of its public and "social" nature, the Patient Opinion platform also provided WACHS with the opportunity to enter into more personalised and open dialogue with consumers and publicly demonstrate how it listens to and acts on the experiences, insights and perspectives shared by consumers in this way. Using examples of stories shared by WACHS consumers on Patient Opinion, examples of WACHS responses to those stories, and project data, this presentation will explore the success of Patient Opinion as a tool for country consumers to share their health care experiences, and for our health service to listen, learn and improve from the experiences of our vastly dispersed consumer populations. The presentation will demonstrate the important role of our network of 21 District Health Advisory Councils (DHACS) - volunteer consumer representative/advocacy groups - in establishing and promoting the project. The DHACs have been strong advocates for the use of social media and other online technologies and innovations to engage with country consumers. If a health service is not engaged online, but its consumers are, it loses the ability to remain responsive to its consumers’ experiences in a timely way. It is important to have multiple avenues for consumers to have a voice and be heard within our organisation. The project has highlighted the role that patient stories can play in the evaluation of health services as well as engaging staff to understand the need for consumer-centred care. The human voice of the story can be a powerful motivator for service and culture change and can draw attention to what matters most to people about the care they receive. While our traditional, formal, and periodic feedback and evaluation methods such as annual patient surveys and complaints forms/systems are useful, they may not address the aspects of care that are most important to the consumer. Based on the success of the pilot project to date, the remaining five WACHS regions will join the project in early 2017.

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Suggested Citation
Jones, K, Waters, M, 2017, The virtual consumer voice: connecting with country consumers online to improve services, Conference Paper, viewed 01 December 2021, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=12148.

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