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16-02-2012 | Genetics | Article

Online patient reviews match hospital outcomes


Free abstract

MedWire News: Patients' online hospital reviews reflect data on objective measures of hospital quality, according to research results published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Although controversial, particularly among health care professionals, Web-based hospital or physician rating sites represent a potentially important development in public reporting," write Felix Greaves (Imperial College London, UK) and colleagues.

The UK National Health Service (NHS) launched a website called "NHS Choices" in 2008, which allows patients to rate their healthcare experiences. This research looks into the ratings provided by patients on this website and their relationship to hospital quality.

A total of 146 NHS acute hospital trusts in England were included in the study, and data from 10,274 patient web-based ratings were analyzed. These were then compared with data on clinical outcomes from a health intelligence company and the NHS comparative health system performance service, NHS Comparators. Data from two hospital-acquired infections, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile, were obtained from the Health Protection Agency.

They found that the top 25% of hospitals with the highest NHS Choices ratings had 5% lower mortality rates and 11% lower readmission rates than the bottom 25% of hospitals. The top 25% of hospitals with the best cleanliness ratings also had a 42% lower MRSA infection rate compared with the 25% worst hospitals for cleanliness.

"The match between online ratings and other measures is far from perfect - it's possible for an individual hospital to have good ratings on NHS Choices but a high mortality rate, or vice versa," said Greaves in a press statement. "However, the general trend is that where a hospital's overall performance on clinical measures is good, patients seem to rate it highly - and vice versa."

A US national study of patient satisfaction, healthcare use, expenditures, and mortality, from the University of California-Davis, is published in the same journal. The study used survey data from 51,946 respondents and concluded that higher patient satisfaction was associated with decreased emergency department use, and increased inpatient use, overall healthcare expenditure, prescription drug expenditure, and mortality.

By Chloe McIvor

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