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22-04-2012 | General practice | Article

Online patient feedback ‘valid’

Abstract

BMJ Qual Saf 2012; Advance online publication

MedWire News: GPs should take online 'TripAdvisor'-style patient feedback on the NHS Choices website seriously, researchers say.

They report that online patient feedback is just as good as that obtained in formal surveys at providing a picture of how well patients are served 'on the ground'.

Dr Felix Greaves (Imperial College London) and team looked at 9997 ratings posted on the NHS Choices website for all 146 acute general hospital trusts in England throughout 2009 and 2010, and compared them with responses over the same period to the conventional NHS Inpatient Survey.

They found that the link between online ratings and patient outcomes (specifically, hospital standardised mortality ratios and readmission rates) was at least as strong as that between patient survey ratings and outcomes.

Patients' website ratings of hospital cleanliness, being treated with dignity and respect, staff working well together, and being involved with decisions about their care were all strongly associated with responses given to the Inpatient Survey. The proportion of people willing to recommend the hospital to a friend on NHS Choices also mirrored that in the national survey.

Reporting their findings in BMJ Quality and Safety, the researchers write: "Our results show that despite fears by providers and hospital administrators that rating sites would offer mostly criticisms, rating of hospitals in England are largely positive."

They add: "Although online feedback mechanisms should not replace patient surveys, they may provide information on hospital quality that is relevant, complementary to survey data and potentially useful for patients when making choices about their healthcare."

MedWire News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price