July 2nd 2024

What Optical Professionals Can Learn from the OCCS Annual Report 2023-24

The Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) Annual Report for 2023-24 provides valuable insights that optical professionals can leverage to improve service delivery and patient satisfaction. Here are key takeaways from the report that can inform better practices and enhance the overall patient experience.

Understanding the Nature and Trends of Complaints

The report highlights the distribution of complaints across different business types and regions. Notably, 79% of complaint enquiries involved practices within groups (corporate, joint venture partnerships, and franchises), while 21% related to independently owned practices. This distribution reflects market share proportions, suggesting that the nature of complaints is consistent across both business types.

Key Areas of Complaints

The report categorizes complaints into several areas:

Goods and Services: The majority of complaints (706) fell into this category.

Customer Care: This was the second most common complaint category with 532 complaints.

Other Charges: There were 147 complaints related to charges.

Practical Advice: A smaller number (81) were related to practical advice.

Mediation Success and Outcomes

The success rate of mediations saw a significant increase from 56% to 80%, demonstrating the effectiveness of the OCCS’s mediation processes. The number of successful mediations indicates that the OCCS’s approach is yielding positive results without merely selecting easy cases.

Regional and Demographic Insights

The distribution of complaints across regions shows a high concentration in England (91.34%), with smaller proportions in Scotland (6.01%) and Wales (2.64%). This geographic distribution can help optical professionals understand where service improvements are most needed and tailor their strategies accordingly.

Lessons for Optical Professionals

Enhanced Communication: A recurring issue in clinical complaints is poor communication and misaligned understanding of treatment risks and needs. Optical professionals should prioritise clear, effective communication to ensure patients fully understand their treatment and its potential outcomes.

Effective Mediation: The high success rate of mediations highlights the importance of resolving complaints through mediation. Developing robust mediation processes can lead to more satisfactory outcomes for both patients and practitioners.

Professional Development: Continuous professional development (CPD) is crucial. The report notes a record level of CPD delivery, with 62 sessions and three articles in journals during the year. Keeping skills up-to-date, especially in new technologies like OCT scans, is essential for maintaining high standards of care.

By focusing on these areas, optical professionals can improve their service quality, reduce the number of complaints, and enhance patient satisfaction. The insights from the OCCS Annual Report serve as a valuable guide for identifying and addressing common issues in optical practice.

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