iPLATO Friends and Family Test FAQs


What is the Friends and Family Test (FFT)?

The ‘Friends and Family Test’ was initially introduced to improve patient care and identify best performing hospitals in England by measuring patient feedback. Over the past 2 years, the test has been expanded by NHS England to include GPs, NHS dentists and ambulance services.

Is FFT Mandatory for GP Practices?

From 1 December 2014, it is a contractual requirement that all GP practices implement the NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT).

What are NHS England’s FFT requirements?

Practices must provide an opportunity for people who use the practice to give anonymous feedback through the FFT and use the standard wording of the FFT question and the responses exactly as set out below in their guidance. They must also include at least one follow up question which allows the opportunity for patients to provide a free text response. Data must be submitted to NHS England once a month and the results will be published locally.

How will iPLATO help my Practice meet the FFT NHS England requirements?

iPLATO FFT is the new managed service from iPLATO Healthcare. We will take the pressure off GPs by providing them with a solution that can meet their FFT targets in a seamless and stress-free manner. As a fully managed service there will be NOTHING for the GP Practice to do. Our service will survey, collate, analyse and report patient responses in full compliance with NHS England’s guidelines

How will Patients be surveyed?

We will use SMS polling as the primary survey tool. It is a proven communication channel that Patients are familiar with and consistently provides excellent results. Patients who attend an appointment with the practice will receive the survey invitation on their mobile phone within 2-3 hours following the appointment.

To complement text messaging we also provide other response mechanisms for Patients to choose at their discretion. There are no additional charges to iPLATO for using alternate survey channels. Alternate survey channels include: App via tablet or traditional paper based survey through in surgery ‘ballot box’. Once these survey mechanisms are operational we plan to add FFT on website/email and smartphone app.

Part of iPLATO FFT No Practice Involvement (Data Collection) No Hardware required by Practice Anonymous Automatically added to Monthly Report Contributes to Cap
Auto Polling (SMS)
SMS to Feedback Card
Web/Email *
Tablet App Tablet + WiFi
Smartphone / myGP *
Feedback Card + Upload Printing + upload
Call Agent

*Part of iPLATO FFT from Q1, 2015.


How often will patients receive a survey text invitation?

A patient will receive a text invitation a few hours after their appointment. However, to avoid ‘survey fatigue’ some patients will not receive an SMS message. For example, we exclude Patients who have completed the survey in the previous 90 days. To achieve high response rates and minimum disruption we will provide you with waiting room posters to ensure that patients expect the FFT message.

What if patients have opted out of Text messaging?

We take consent and confidentially very seriously. iPLATO follows an IGSoC approved method of collecting consent from patients. No text messages will go out to patients who have opted-out. We will then offer other channels of data collection through which the patient can give feedback.

How does the Reporting work?

iPLATO FFT includes NHS compliant – automated – monthly reporting. Whatever feedback channel that the patient chooses to use, at the end of the month the iPLATO system will collate the results and produce a comprehensive monthly report including the data required by NHS England as well as data specifically designed to help the practice assess performance and improve service. In addition to all anonymous replies, practices can assess patient feedback depending on gender or age.

At the end of each calendar month iPLATO will email the practice the report conforming to the NHS England FFT reporting requirements. This report will also be added to the practice’s own web interface within the iPLATO service along with other analytical tools and information.

How much will it cost?

Our pricing model is outcome based, therefore we only charge for responses to the FFT questions and NOT for the messages actually sent out. Individual practices will have a price cap per month when they sign up with us. Once this cap has been reached ‘auto-polling’ will cease. Our prices per practice start at £50 + VAT per month. There are NO setup costs and you will never be charged more than your selected monthly plan. See Price Plans below.

What are the Price Plans?

All plans are per practice/per month and they are billed monthly. You can choose any plan you like and change plans whenever you like. Our comments on each plan are for guidance. You choose your plan depending on your needs (which may change over time).
Practice Description PRICE per month
SMALL Entry level plan for practices with up to 5,000 patients. Includes 50 SMS or Web/Email responses.
All responses from Tablet or Manual upload are free.
£50 + VAT
MEDIUM Basic plan for practices with 5,001 to 10,000 patients. Includes 100 SMS or Web/Email responses.
All responses from Tablet or Manual upload are free.
£100 + VAT
LARGE Suitable for practices with 10,001 to 15,000 patients. Includes 150 SMS or Web/Email responses.
All responses from Tablet or Manual upload are free.
£150 + VAT
VERY LARGE Suitable for practices with 15,001 to 20,000 patients. Includes 200 SMS or Web/Email responses.
All responses from Tablet or Manual upload are free.
£200 + VAT
JUMBO Suitable for practices with more than 20,000 patients. Includes 250 SMS or Web/Email responses.
All responses from Tablet or Manual upload are free.
£250 + VAT

How and when do I pay?

Unless there is an explicit reason i.e. central funding by CCG, we prefer surgeries to set up a Direct Debit mandate. We use an online Direct Debit payment provider called GoCardless. The entire setup process and management of your Direct Debit is done online and should only take you a few minutes to setup. Like all Direct Debits you can cancel it anytime. Once operational the billing cycle is as follows:

  • Day 1: Invoice issued. You will be electronically sent an invoice each month, this can be sent to multiple people including your accountant directly if so desired.
  • Day 3 – 8: Direct Debit Processed. This is when the money will leave your account.
  • Day 9: Receipt Issued. You will be electronically sent a receipt for every payment collected each month. This can be sent to multiple recipients including your accountant directly if so desired.

Why do you insist on Direct Debit mandates?

There are a number of reasons that we have implemented a Direct Debit collection process for our Friends and Family service:

  • As this is a month to month service you can cancel any time, therefore we want to collect payments monthly too.
  • With 1,000’s of customers and relatively small amounts being billed and collected every month the time/costs would be prohibitive if we had to manually reconcile, and track all these payments every month.
  • Direct Debit payments also mean less work for you or your accountants and the legal safeguards of the Direct Debit scheme offer you greater protection as your payments are guaranteed by the scheme.

Our CCG has funded an underperforming FFT service. Can I use iPLATO FFT with it?

Yes, iPLATO FFT can work alongside another FFT service (typically web or kiosk). To bring it all into one quality report which you control you will have to upload the results from the other service using upload tools available on the iPLATO FFT service’s web based interface. With our flexible price plan you can ensure that you achieve sufficient levels of feedback at the right price.

We have our own ballot box. Can we use iPLATO FFT with it?

Yes, as in the example above you can enter the FFT feedback you get from other services (in this case paper based FFT) into iPLATO FFT. These results will merge into the iPLATO FFT monthly report. Upon signing up for iPLATO FFT we will provide you with a best practice FFT Feedback card card. Who knows, we might be able to improve your current service as well.

What if we are not a current iPLATO customer?

Our FFT offering is not dependant on our ‘Patient Care Messaging’ product. We welcome new users and there is no requirement to use other iPLATO products and services.

What about patients who visit the Practice without an appointment?

All patients who visit the surgery with or without an appointment should have the right to give feedback. We use a multichannel approach using other means of data collection such as ballot boxes, survey via a customised surgery website etc.

Will Practice staff need training?

No staff training is required. We will take the burden off practices and do all the hard work for you! iPLATO will handle all the back-end electronic data collection, validation, verification and analysis so no additional work is required by your busy receptionists and other staff!

What if the majority of my patients are elderly/without mobile numbers?

It is acknowledged that certain patient groups are more likely to own a mobile phone than others. However, industry research estimates that 91% of the adult population in the UK now own at least one mobile phone, making the mobile channel an ideal and inclusive way to reach your patients. Nevertheless alternate collection methods are provided: website/email, App via tablet or traditional paper based survey through in surgery ‘ballot box’.

What about patients who don’t have a mobile number registered with my practice?

To comply with NHS requirements iPLATO FFT offers all patients the ability to provide feedback. Patients who do not have a mobile number registered with the practice can text a 4 digit code (each practice will have a unique number which can be advertised on flyers, posters or even practice letterhead) to trigger the FFT survey.

Patients can also visit a website to complete the survey, complete the survey on a Tablet running the iPLATO FFT App in the waiting room or even complete a paper based survey provided by the practice which can easily be upload to the iPLATO service at a later time. All these data capture channels feed into the Friends & Family Report that the system will produce automatically at the end of each month.

Does the iPLATO system access patient health records?

No, our FFT offering will not access Patient Health Record information. It only use basic Patient demographic details stored in your Clinical system.

Does text messaging put patient confidentiality and data security at risk?

iPLATO is an ‘Approved Service Recipient’ and has passed HSIC’s IGToolkit accreditation with regards to being a Commercial Third Party (CTP) supplier to the NHS. All technology aspects associated with the iPLATO FFT service are hosted in a secure and accredited N3 environment. Requirements around patient confidentially specifically relating to the FFT service will be strictly maintained. At no time will any Patient identifiable data be made available to any GP surgery user.

Who owns the data?

Unlike many unsolicited websites offering ‘open, unsecured’ FFT, you as a practice will have FULL ownership of your feedback data. You control who sees the data, and who can input data. iPLATO FFT is not a “ TripAdvisor for GP’s”, it is a secure fully managed service that allows you to meet NHS requirements and provides data to help improve your patients experience.

If I sign up for iPLATO’s FFT service can I cancel at any time?

If you aren’t happy, we aren’t happy so, there are no long term commitments and you can to stop your service by giving us a month’s notice.