GP Practice Online Reviews before and after the COVID-19 Pandemic: a Longitudinal Observational Study (Preprint)
Vidiella-Martin J., Khandamiryan G., Powell J., Nicodemo C.
BACKGROUND The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to in-person encounters with general practitioners (GPs) and has fostered the use of digital health tools. Patient online reviews (PORs) of health care experience offer a method for patients to feedback on the quality of their care. OBJECTIVE This study sought to determine the latest trends in patient feedback for English GP practices in the National Health Service (NHS). METHODS Publicly available PORs for English GP practices between January 2019 and February 2021 were identified and scraped from the NHS website. PORs were characterized based on numerical star ratings (ranging from one to five) and the polarity of their comments. These measures were also calculated at GP practice level to understand whether patients’ perceptions of their practices are constant across time. RESULTS Of the 58,970 PORs posted between February 2019 and February 2021, 64·6% were positive (defined as a star rating of four or five out of five). After the lockdown measures imposed in April 2020, the share of encounters with GPs rated positively by customers increased. General practices were less likely to reply to their patients’ reviews after April 2020. The relative rank of practices based on their average star rating remained rather constant after the start of the lockdown measures. CONCLUSIONS This study demonstrates how PORs can be used to detect instances of particularly good or bad practice. Since GP Patient Survey has been disrupted during the COVID-19 period, this could be another measure for policy makers to track practice quality.