New NHS England funded project in our team developing text mining algorithms for patient feedback data

The experience team are soon to embark on an exciting new project, fully funded by NHS England, which will aim to produce software which can automatically read patient feedback data and generate information about what it’s about (which we call themes- staff, parking, food…) as well as how critical it is (which we call criticality- “The service was wonderful”, “I am not very happy”, “I was left furious…”). A key feature of this software will be that it will be made available, free, by NHS England to every NHS organisation in the country and even available for them to modify if they wish.

Although the team at Nottinghamshire Healthcare read every comment and generate data about theme and criticality for each one, many Trusts do not and this work will be a very big asset for those Trusts that want to get more out of their patient experience data. Nottinghamshire Healthcare will benefit from this work too because it allows the Trust to use a new set of themes, replacing the current structure which has been in use for seven years or so. We have over 200,000 comments and without machines we would not be able to ever change the themes that we use to tag the data.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare and the rest of the NHS will also benefit from this project because it will provide a new interface to look at the patient experience data in new ways, with new graphics and other ways of making sense of the data, based on the algorithms in the background reading the feedback and making sense of what it says.

It’s worth saying that we at Nottinghamshire Healthcare fully believe that a human being should read every comment and that will not change- in our Trust this technology will be used to support human insight, not to replace it. But it will be a useful tool for those Trusts that can’t commit to reading all of their feedback (and they would all love the time and space to do it). NHS England are happy to make it available to them for free and we are happy to produce guidance on deploying it on their own infrastructure. We hope to be able to offer it as a managed service after the project has ended to Trusts who can use the software in the cloud without having to configure anything themselves (subject to the proper guidance on using patient experience data in the cloud).

We will soon be recruiting to a post as part of this project so stay tuned for updates about that and if you want to know more please drop Chris Beeley a line, or @ChrisBeeley on Twitter.

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