Public awareness, usage and predictors for the use of doctor rating websites : a cross-sectional study in England

Patel, S ORCID:, Cain, R, Neailey, K and Hooberman, L 2018, 'Public awareness, usage and predictors for the use of doctor rating websites : a cross-sectional study in England' , Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20 (7) .

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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 (OPF) websites, both inside and outside academia. There is however little known about how the public across England view such rating websites as a medium to give patient experience feedback.

Objective: The aim was to measure and understand public awareness and usage of doctor rating websites as a mode to give experiential feedback about GPs in general practice in England, within the context of other feedback methods, so that the value of OPF websites from the patients’ perspective could be determined.

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 analysed using chi square tests, binomial logistic regressions and content analysis.

Results: Public awareness of OPF websites as a channel to leave experiential feedback about GPs was found to be low at 15% (128/844); however, usage and future consideration to use OPF websites was found to be extremely low, with current patient usage at just 0.36% (3/844), and patient intention to use OPF in the future at 18% (150/844). Furthermore, only 4-5% of those who would consider leaving feedback in the future selected doctor rating websites as their most preferred method to leave feedback about a GP, and more than half of patients said they would consider leaving feedback about GPs using another method, but not using an OPF website.

Conclusions: The findings appear to suggest that OPF websites may not be an effective channel for collecting feedback on patient experience in general practice, and feedback on OPF websites is not likely to be representative of the patient experience in the near future. This challenges the use of OPF not just as a mode for collecting patient experience data, but for patient choice and monitoring too. We recommend the NHS to channel 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 much more likely to be used currently by the majority of patients in England.

Keywords: online reviews; Physician quality; Primary Care; Internet; Quality patient empowerment; quality transparency; public reporting;

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Publisher: JMIR Publications
ISSN: 1438-8871
Related URLs:
Funders: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2018 08:17
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 23:22

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