Patients’ online hospital reviews reflect data on hospital outcomes
28 February 2012
Patients’ ratings of hospitals tally with objective measures of the hospital’s performance, according to an independent study published on 13 February in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Since 2008, patients have been able to post comments on and rate hospitals using the NHS Choices website, in the same way as they might rate a hotel on Tripadvisor. The system’s proponents suggest that it helps patients to choose the best services, but no previous study has investigated whether these online ratings are related to clinical measures of healthcare quality, such as mortality rates and incidence of hospital- acquired infections.
Imperial researchers examined 10,274 ratings of all NHS acute hospital trusts in England submitted on NHS Choices in 2009 and 2010. They found that hospitals with better patient ratings tend to have lower death rates in addition to lower readmission rates. Hospitals rated by patients as being cleaner have lower rates of MRSA infections.
“There is a lot of data available to the public on hospital performance, but people rarely use conventional measures and often find them difficult to understand,” said Dr Felix Greaves, (Public Health), who led the study. “Our results suggest that NHS Choices ratings may provide useful and relevant information for patients making choices about their care.” When the 25 per cent of hospitals with the best ratings on NHS Choices are compared with the 25 per cent rated worst, mortality rates were 5 per cent lower and readmission rates were 11 per cent lower in the more highlyrated hospitals.
— Sam Wong, Communications and Development