Around one in five doctors are aware of online patient feedback about themselves, according to a new survey of health professionals.
The cross-sectional study, led by the University of Warwick, surveyed the experiences of 1,001 registered doctors and 749 nurses and midwives involved in direct patient care in the UK. Participants self-completed an online questionnaire.
The findings, published this week in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, show that just 27.7 per cent (277/1001) of doctors were aware that patients/carers had provided online feedback about an episode of care in which they were involved. Only 20.5 per cent (205/1001) were aware of online feedback about them as an individual practitioner.
Hospital-based professionals were more like to see online patient feedback as useful compared to community-based professionals. GPs also felt strongly that online feedback is likely to be negative, particularly on social media.
The majority of respondents had never encouraged patients/carers to leave online feedback.
Commenting on the findings, lead author, Dr Helen Atherton, from Warwick Medical School, said if NHS organisations are collecting this data, they need to be communicating it to frontline staff.
Dr Atherton added: "Healthcare organisations should be putting protocols in place for this feedback and developing plans for what to do with it. If healthcare professionals are aware of it and take control of the process a little more by actively soliciting it then it's more likely to be useful to them. There are positive examples of how commentary left by NHS patients on review sites have led to changes in the health service."