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2014 Conference Presentation

Outcomes and quality EnglandUnited Kingdom

2 September 2014

Potential and challenges of online service quality feedback mechanisms to support service consumption decisions

Lisa Trigg, LSE, United Kingdom


The provision of timely, reliable and accurate information on care providers and quality is essential to assist users to make effective choices which meet their needs and preferences. Information on long-term care services has typically been limited and difficult to access.

Online ratings such as those on TripAdvisor or Amazon have become a part of everyday life for many internet users and there is considerable policy interest in extending this type of service to the long-term care area. Gathering and publishing online feedback from users and their relatives and carers is therefore increasingly seen as a way of channelling simple and meaningful information on providers to future long-term care service users.

However, there are a number of issues which affect how successfully online user ratings information systems can be applied in the long-term care sector. Some of these challenges include achieving a sufficient volume of user reviews so that an accurate picture of the service can be formed. In the long-term care sector, the low turnover of users and proliferation of small providers can limit the pool of potential reviewers, as do factors such as low internet access and use among service recipients, and issues of cognitive or physical impairment. Added to this is the difficulty of protecting the anonymity of users or their relatives, and the consequences of posting negative reviews. There is also the risk that user feedback, whether accurate or inaccurate, will have a disproportionate effect on decision-making due to a general preference for testimonials over objective and quantitative information on quality.

This presentation will examine the potential for and challenges involved in applying online service quality feedback mechanisms for assisting the decision-making of long-term care consumers. It will draw on the experiences of recent initiatives in both health and long-term care in England to capture and publish online feedback, as well as on examples from other sectors.


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