SmartSurvey has improved the way the GMC collects feedback from members and the public, with a powerful, collaborative solution, which has become pivotal to its decision-making and the development of new standards

The General Medical Council (GMC), with the support of data collection specialist SmartSurvey, has been driving up its communications and engagement with stakeholders through a digital platform for consultations and surveys.

In its role working to protect, promote and maintain effective health and safety standards in the practice of medicine across the UK, the GMC is reliant on the quality and frequency of its stakeholders’ feedback, which is pivotal to its decision-making, strengthening and development of these standards.

When it looked to refresh its engagement software, the professional regulator aimed to not only build on existing engagement levels, but also improve the respondent experience and provide a simple and user-friendly interface for administrators.

It was critical to secure a solution that was not only simple to use, manage, analyse data and share findings, but could provide as engaging an end-user experience as possible – something GMC Policy Manager, Farkhanda Maqbool points out:

We rely heavily on stakeholder and public feedback, to test and develop our policies and guidance. This is even more crucial considering the fast-paced environment that we operate in, where practice on the ground across the UK and the ethical issues that arise are continually evolving. It was essential to get a solution that would make it simpler and quicker for us to create, distribute and analyse surveys. It was also important to us to have a solution that would provide features and functionality that would continue to help maximise our engagement with stakeholders, by providing advanced capabilities for users and the wider business, and the ability to develop the platform further to respond to our needs.


New platform with increased functionality and performance to meet a wide range of requirements

From survey creation, management, distribution, reporting and analysis to security, data protection and support, the GMC had a detailed list of requirements its new solution provider would need to meet.

Having listened carefully to all its needs, SmartSurvey was able to present the GMC a solution which met all these requirements and more.

It wasn’t a hard choice to select SmartSurvey. Not only did they understand what we were looking to achieve right from the start, they presented a solution that represented everything we needed.

Farkhanda Maqbool, Policy Manager, GMC

Following its implementation, SmartSurvey was quickly delivering significant benefits for the organisation across all the priority areas it had highlighted.

As a large organisation with many teams and a wide range of functions, it was important SmartSurvey could support the GMC in the creation of a large range and volume of internal and external surveys. Thanks to a wide selection of question types and features such as skip logic and piping, simple editing tools, multiple language options and the ability to easily share, review and test surveys with others, this process became much simpler and quicker. In fact, it wasn’t long before users started to notice a reduction in survey creation time, which is something Rosalind Springer, Website, Engagement and Project Assistant for the GMC’s Standards & Ethics Team has experienced for herself:

With the SmartSurvey solution I can now complete a like for like survey questionnaire in a couple of days. The platform is just so quick and easy to use.

SmartSurvey has given the GMC a platform that makes its surveys and consultations much easier to manage, from digital folders and search features that help it to locate documents and templates to simple to use styling and editing tools that ensure it is able to keep everything on brand.

With the SmartSurvey platform, the GMC now has a flexible solution that allows it to distribute surveys and consultations easily via its preferred methods that include email, e-bulletins and social media channels. Developments to improve accessibility and completion were also built in. These included responsive templates that adapt to the screen size of mobile devices, progress bars that inform respondents about the percentage of a survey or consultation remaining with the ability to save and return to complete a response, and the flexibility to capture offline as well as online responses. In addition, SmartSurvey also meets demanding accessibility guidelines, which includes compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, to ensure easy access by individuals with a range of disabilities including visual impairment.

The extra functionality that we now have with SmartSurvey has already made a big difference to how we engage different audiences across all areas of our business. For example, optimisation for mobiles means that whenever we conduct meetings with a group of doctors, we can now encourage them to complete a survey while they are in the meeting. These kinds of advancements can improve the level of feedback we can collect. We hope to do even more to improve accessibility in the future.

Farkhanda Maqbool, Policy Manager, GMC

With stakeholder feedback crucial to the GMC’s decision-making process and shaping of future policies, the ability to produce high quality, insightful reports that could simplify the evaluation of large data sets is extremely important. The new functionality of SmartSurvey’s solution brings benefits such as the ability to see real-time responses and quickly generate reports and graphics in a range of formats. SmartSurvey has also facilitated greater collaboration between colleagues and departments with functionality that makes it simple to share results. It’s a development that has made a big difference to its business according to GMCs Policy Manager, Farkhanda Maqbool:

SmartSurvey’s solution has been beneficial to the analysis of results. We can do this significantly faster than before, while maintaining the quality of our process.

Another key factor was security, any new solution would need to meet a series of challenging security and data protection requirements. Due to the nature and sensitivities of its work, the GMC needs to comply with a series of information-based legislation that ranges from the Data Protection Act (DPA) to the EU Data Protection Policy. Further compliance requirements also meant it needed the ability to conduct audit trails. In addition to tier-based permission levels, single sign on and user authentication controls, the GMC wanted a further layer of robust security, where only authorised individuals would be allowed access to specific areas of its platform based on job role requirements. SmartSurvey was able to deliver these complex functionality and process.


Smart solution transforming the GMC’s communications and engagement with members

Working with SmartSurvey also brought a series of value-added benefits.

Thanks to SmartSurvey’s support, the GMC has been able to build in a secure, password protected area of its platform for registered stakeholder members to access. This is ideal for key stakeholders who frequently respond to consultations: with a single account they simply login, and don’t have re-enter profile information every time they want to engage with a survey or consultation streamlining the process.

Account holders can also save a response and return to it and update their account details at any time. The registration process also allows the GMC to collect demographic information about individuals who respond, so it can monitor audience reach and composition.


A solid partnership to move it forward

Since the introduction of SmartSurvey in 2016, the GMC has continued to work with the provider to improve its collaboration, better engage with its stakeholders and gather feedback critical to its future policy development.

Stakeholder feedback is fundamental to our decision-making process and gives our professional guidance credibility because it’s been thoroughly tested with stakeholders, the wider profession and the public. It’s great to have a platform like SmartSurvey and a team who are so keen to help us continue to keep consultation and engagement at the heart of our decisionmaking processes.

Farkhanda Maqbool, Policy Manager, GMC

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