Patient Opinion, which has been live since 2005, allows patients to rate and comment on their experience with health providers. It has been an amazing (if sometimes painful) success in the UK, leading to a number of care improvements across the health system and at individual providers.
Having worked in the area in government in Australia, I recognise the sensitivities that get raised around the idea of rating health providers, or allowing public comment on individual experiences, particularly from hospitals and health professionals.
However decisions are made every day by people based on their views and experiences - which product to buy or shop to visit. They are even made about health services in private conversations that health providers can neither see or address.
Patient Opinion makes patient views and experiences visible in a central and public way, allowing health providers with the ability to access and review - even respond - to comments. The site also provides a level of governance and safety through monitoring stories and comments to ensure they are not defamatory.
The approach allows health providers to view and address operational concerns and provides valuable insights for policy makers into the Australian health system which, after all, is supposed to maximise the outcomes for patients.
While fears of negativity are common amongst organisations and individuals when social media channels open, the Patient Opinion experience in the UK has been that there is a high level of positive feedback provided - people do have faith in many health providers.
A brief video about the site is below, and you can learn more about Patient Opinion in Australia at www.patientopinion.org.au/info/about