Opinion Research Results

This research programme investigated the effectiveness of web-based feedback to drive quality improvement in the health service and patient care.

The research was conducted by studying various websites and undertaking Internet Marketing with various partners. Patient Opinion is a not-for-profit social enterprise which runs the website, enabling patients to share their experiences online. Health organisations, particularly hospitals, are then able to view these comments and respond, for example by explaining any changes they have put in place as a result of criticism.

The research based on the Patient Opinion website addressed a number of questions:

  • In what ways do existing NHS complaints and feedback mechanisms fall short?
  • How might web-based approaches overcome these limitations?
  • In practice, how far are web-based feedback systems actually overcoming existing limitations?
  • What factors need to be present in a healthcare organisation for web-based feedback systems to meet the needs of service users and lead to quality improvement?
  • Are there particular advantages or disadvantages to an independent web-based feedback system, compared with an NHS-run system?

The research began with an online and postal survey sent out to 1,236 people who had used the Effective Patient Care website. The response rate was 40.45% (500 responses). This was followed up with individual interviews with users.

The research also included a comparison with other web-based feedback systems, by studying non-public sector websites, including customer discussion forums, market research communities, democracy and transparency websites and purchasing/booking websites.