Table 1

Potential sources of information for the ‘cloud of patient experience’

Type of sourceExamplesInformation that could be usedAdvantagesDisadvantages
Rating and feedback websitesRateMDs,25 Patient Opinion,26 Iwantgreatcare27Ratings and free text descriptions of healthcare providers and individual cliniciansComments usually directly relate to care experienceComparatively low usage, possibility of deliberate gaming
Patient networks, discussion fora and blogsPatientslikeme,28 Mumsnet,29 Epatients.net30Patients’ and carers’ shared descriptions of their care and experiencesAuthentic voice of the patient, often well used in specific patient communitiesMay be a selection bias towards particular demographics (with higher socio-economic status) or interest groups
Micro-blogsTwitter31Tweets (short messages) directed towards hospitals or care providersHigh volume of traffic, often tagged with service they relate toShort, unstructured messages may contain minimal information about care quality
Social networksFacebook,32 Google+33Comments left on hospital or friends’ pages about care or specific signals of appreciation (eg, likes, ‘+1's)High membership and usage by the publicPublic rarely talks about healthcare on these platforms
Content may be from employees rather than patients