*Felix Greaves, Utz J. Pape, Henry Lee, Diana M. Smith, Ara Darzi, Azeem Majeed, Christopher Millet
Imperial College London
Oral Presentation – Research Track
Saturday, Sept 29, 2012: 9:20 AM – 9:40 AM – LK130

*Presenting Speaker

Background

Patients are increasingly rating their family physicians on the internet in the same way as they might rate a hotel on tripadvisor or a seller on ebay, despite physicians’ concerns about this process. This study examines usage patterns of NHS Choices, a government website which encourages patients to rate the quality of family practices in England, and associations between web-based patient ratings and conventional measures of patient experience and clinical quality.

Methods
We obtained all (16,952) ratings of family practices posted on NHS Choices between October 2009 and December 2010. We examined associations between patient ratings and family practice and population characteristics. Associations between ratings and survey measures of patient experience and clinical outcomes were examined.

Results
61% of the 8089 family practices in England were rated and 69% of ratings would recommend their family practice. Practices serving younger, less deprived and more densely populated areas were more likely to be rated. There were moderate associations with survey measures of patient experience (Spearman’s ρ 0.37-0.48, p<0.001 for all 5 variables), but only weak associations with measures of clinical process and outcome (Spearman’s ρ less than ±0.18, p<0.001 for 6 of 7 variables).

Interpretation
The frequency of patients rating their family physicians on the internet is variable in England, but the ratings are generally positive and are associated with other measures of patient experience and clinical quality. Although potentially flawed, patient ratings on the internet may provide another lens to look at the quality of primary care.