Patient Opinion has been set up to provide an independent outlet for patients to share views, experiences, complaints and messages of thanks to NHS staff. It is being run on a not-for-profit basis and is free at the point of use.
Users enter opinions into a weblog while a built-in social tagging system operates in the background interpreting simple language, such as the word “bones”, into medical terminology.
Paul Hodgkin, a GP and founder member of the project, said he is optimistic that patients will take up the opportunity to be heard, and thereby influence future policy decisions about the NHS. He told Government Computing News on 19 January 2006 that the site was already being used to collect feedback by five trusts in the South Yorkshire area, and that the early reaction among patients and NHS staff has been positive.
“Trusts have been by and large very supportive though slightly apprehensive, which is understandable,” he said. “Providing platforms that add a net mediated feedback loop into the public service is really exciting for us to be on the leading edge of that.”
He also said that so far with about 50% of patient opinions have been positive.
Headshift provided the social software for the system. Director Livio Hughes said it would provide a user friendly interface for patients while also gathering accurate data for reports.
The scheme should also enable NHS trusts to monitor and compare performance with one another, but using patient opinions rather than officially designed mechanisms.
Patients providing feedback are not required to enter any personal information into the site.
The Department of Health provided start-up funds of