I am very pleased to share that my final study from my PhD research has now been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). The findings in relation to online patient feedback do challenge the current narrative in literature, and therefore I’m really pleased the despite the inevitable delays and hurdles, it has finally made it in the public domain. In other news, I am also pleased to share that I am now a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and I have also been accepted as a member of the Q Community.
A copy of the abstract is below and the complete journal can be found here.
Public Awareness, Usage, and Predictors for the Use of Doctor Rating Websites: Cross-Sectional Study in England
Background: With the advent and popularity of social media and consumer rating websites, as well as the emergence of the digitally engaged patient, there has been an increased interest in doctor rating websites or online patient feedback websites, both inside and outside academia. However, there is very little known about how the public across England views such rating websites as a mode to give patient experience feedback.
Objective: The aim of the overall study was to measure and understand public awareness, usage, and attitudes towards doctor rating websites as a mode to give experiential feedback about GPs in general practice in England. This paper reports on the findings of one of the aims of the study, which was to measure public awareness, current usage and future consideration of usage of online patient feedback websites, within the context of other feedback methods, This could allow the value of online patient feedback websites to be determined from the patients’ perspective.
Methods: A mixed methods population questionnaire was designed, validated and implemented face-to-face using a cross-sectional design with a representative sample of the public (n=844) in England. The results of the questionnaire were analyzed using chi-square tests, binomial logistic regressions, and content analysis. The qualitative results will be reported elsewhere.
Results: Public awareness of online patient feedback websites as a channel to leave experiential feedback about GPs was found to be low at 15.2% (128/844). However, usage and future consideration to use online patient feedback websites were found to be extremely low, with current patient usage at just 0.4% (3/844), and patient intention to use online patient feedback in the future at 17.8% (150/844). Furthermore, only 4.0-5.0% of those who would consider leaving feedback about a GP in the future selected doctor rating websites as their most preferred method; more than half of patients said they would consider leaving feedback about GPs using another method, but not using an online patient feedback website.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that online patient feedback websites may not be an effective channel for collecting feedback on patient experience in general practice. Feedback on online patient feedback websites is not likely to be representative of the patient experience in the near future, challenging the use of online patient feedback not just as a mode for collecting patient experience data, but for patient choice and monitoring too. We recommend the National Health Service channels its investment and resources towards providing more direct and private feedback methods in general practice (such as opportunities for face-to-face feedback, email-based feedback, and web-based private feedback forms), as these are currently much more likely to be used by the majority of patients in England.