We are a 7,400-patient, six-partner practice in Dorchester, Dorset, serving a mixed urban and rural population, so implementing the contractual requirement to have a Friends and Family Test for the practice could have been a challenge. We looked at various commercial providers for an electronic version, as we hoped it would save us time in collecting and collating the results. But these proved expensive. When one of our patients offered to write a computer program for us, we jumped at the chance. We bought a tablet computer, loaded it with the app and set it up in our waiting room. Paul, our patient and programmer, simply asked us to make a contribution to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation as payment, so we donated £100. The system has been up and running since December 2014.
How it works
The actual test is as simple as possible. The first question is the standard: ‘How likely are you to recommend our GP practice to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?’ After this, patients are asked ‘Would you like to make a comment on our service?’ and using the tablet’s keyboard, they can enter any comments they wish.
When the patient presses the ‘finish’ button, the data are safely stored. At the end of each month, our practice manager connects the tablet to her PC to download the data, presented in a summarised table of responses and comments.
One of our partners bought a small kit to attach the tablet in the waiting room.
We chose an Android tablet on the basis that it was cheaper and possibly less likely to be stolen than an iPad (Paul’s program is written for Android machines). The cost of the hardware was about £140 for the tablet and about £20 for the kit to fix it to the wall.
There were some initial problems seeing the files containing the results on the tablet, but this was solved by the time-honoured tactic of turning it off and on again.
It just takes five minutes per month to download the data from the tablet. Paul has promised an upgrade that will email the results once a month to a nominated email account (our practice is having wifi installed).
We have had an average of about 30 responses per month and five to 10 comments. For a total cost to the practice of about £250, including the £100 donation to the charity, and with no ongoing costs, we have a simple, long-term system in place.
Getting the responses from the tests has been beneficial – the vast majority of responses have been positive, which has been great for staff morale. They are published on NHS Choices and are very useful for CQC inspections. We have a separate suggestions box for written responses in the waiting room for patients who prefer to use pen and paper, but that is rarely used.
Many commercial providers have FFT products, which can be expensive and come with a very large unit for the waiting room. Paul provided a solution that was simple to use, cost effective and doesn’t take up valuable space.
Other GP practices can use this same system. The program is available free to download from the Google Play store – you can find it by searching for Friends and Family Test (FFT) – by PWFlyman. Paul simply asks that any practice that uses the app makes a contribution to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, quoting the program as the reason.
Dr Des Ling is a GP in Dorchester, Dorset