Improving NHS quality using internet ratings and experiences (INQUIRE)

Researchers at the University of Oxford are aiming to understand:
– How the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK) uses online feedback from patients and the public.
– How online feedback can be better used to improve the quality of services.

Increasingly, people are going online to give feedback on their experience of care, or to read the feedback that other people have given. Patients, carers and service users can share their personal experiences in a range of ways. There are websites which ask for feedback on doctors or hospitals, such as the NHS Choices website. Some people choose to tell their care stories in personal blogs or on discussion forums. Feedback via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is also becoming more popular. In this research we are asking: how should the NHS interpret and act on online patient experience feedback to improve the quality of NHS services?

This work will have the potential to revolutionise the way that health services respond to patients, their carers and the public. We will help the NHS understand when and how to use online feedback, and we will provide the tools to use it to improve services. Ultimately this could lead to improved patient experience in the NHS, and a higher quality health service with better health outcomes.

We will:
1. Talk to experts and examine previous research to find out about initiatives and current practice in this area, and to identify what lessons the NHS can learn.

2. Study why people choose to comment on health services, and find out who are the people who read and write online feedback. This will help the NHS to interpret the online feedback it receives.

3. Study NHS staff and NHS hospitals and general practitioner practices to find out how the NHS and its staff view online feedback, and what they do with it. This will help us to understand what the challenges might be in encouraging appropriate use of this feedback in the NHS.

4. Develop a tool kit for health services and training for health professionals. This will help us to encourage appropriate use of online feedback together with other patients’ experience data.

This research programme is a collaboration between a team at the University of Oxford (the Health Experiences Research Group in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences), the Said Business School and the Oxford Internet Institute with the help of two patient representatives. The programme runs from November 2015 until October 2017.