All dentists to face eBay-type feedback

Dentists will face being publicly scrutinised by patients with the launch of a new website service in January 2010.

The website – www.iWantGreatCare.org – is encouraging patients to post their experiences about their dentist – good or bad – and rate them in the same way people do sellers at consumer websites Amazon.co.uk and eBay.

Founder and chief executive, Dr Neil Bacon, claims the feedback service is closely monitored so will prevent abuse, vendettas, false claims and ‘any dishonest and fraudulent activity’ using ‘world-class technology that can detect abusive patterns and prevent them’.

The healthcare review website originally launched in 2008 with a hospital and GP feedback service about doctors and has already gathered 40,000 patient reviews of GPs which are published online.

From January, visitors will be able to rate their dentist using a series of measurements known to relate to better healthcare outcomes: trust, listen, recommend, cleanliness, efficiency, politeness, respect.

There will also be room for added comment.

The postings are anonymous – so patients can offer their view ‘good or bad and without fear of retribution’ – but each comment has to be accompanied by a supplied email address.

Dr Bacon says the benefits to dentistry are two-fold: practices can use the continuous patient feedback gathered on the website to decide how to best improve services and patients can make inform choices as to where to seek dental care.

He adds that it will prove a ‘vital tool in terms of the move towards a quality commissioning framework’, which focuses on improving patient experience, increasing access and meeting local needs and increasing preventive dentistry.

He adds that some dental practices are already using PDFs of reviews to attract patients and health authorities are using the feedback in their commissioning process as ‘PCTs demand more and more evidence of good practice’.

And the company behind the website service will benefit in an advisory capacity.

He explains: ‘We can help them use the data in their marketing and help drive new patients to their practice.’

‘Our experience over the last year with doctors has shown that there is a huge demand among patients for them to be able to see the direct views, experiences and ratings of fellow patients in helping them make informed choices about where to get their care.

‘One of the earliest requests from patients was to allow the same system to help them choose the very best dentists. Not only that, but they actively want to praise those who give great care and share their experiences with others.

‘This kind of information is absolutely critical for individual dentists and dental groups as PCTs use patient experience as a key factor in commissioning decisions.’

Dr Bacon concludes: ‘The concept of patient experience from the Department of Health’s point of view is absolutely essential as is feedback.’

Speaking about the service, chief dental officer Barry Cockcroft said: ‘We believe it is important for patients to have reliable information about healthcare services to enable them to make informed decisions about the care they receive.

‘NHS Choices provides a range of information on dental services including helping patients to find a practice near them.’

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