Senior healthcare managers’ perspectives on using social media patient feedback to improve care

  • Steven Wilson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


The Patients’ Rights Act (Scotland) 2018 requires that Health Boards in Scotland encourage, monitor and learn from patient feedback. A range of mechanisms are used by healthcare organisations to capture and monitor the quality of care and services they provide, and to stimulate improvement where required. Historically these have been a mix of paper-based methods and face-to-face mechanisms. In recent years these traditional methods are increasingly being augmented by spontaneous sharing through social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter, and through dedicated patient feedback websites like Care Opinion. There is little published evidence regarding the legitimacy of capturing and interpreting patient feedback using social media. This research explores senior healthcare managers’ attitudes to and acceptance of online patient feedback, and its potential to inform improvements to health and care services. It considers the suitability of social media for monitoring patient experience and considers the main barriers to using this information to inform changes to healthcare services.
Interviews were conducted with 18 senior clinical and managerial staff from three National Health Service (NHS) Boards in Scotland in order to build an in-depth understanding of their attitudes and experiences regarding the use of social media patient feedback for improvement to health and care services. A process of Framework Analysis was used to identify the key issues, concepts and themes expressed by interview participants.
The results of this study show contrasting views on the usefulness and value of patient feedback. Participants highlighted the importance of understanding and accepting the patient perspective on their healthcare experience, whilst others questioned patients’ ability to judge the quality of their own care. The emotional impact of both positive and negative patient feedback on healthcare professionals was a key issue for participants. The findings from this study show that senior healthcare managers’ views on the legitimacy of patient feedback through social media are influenced by a number of factors, these include apprehension around the anonymous nature of social media patient feedback; the impact of age and IT skills; the risk to organisational and professional reputation: and concern about the loss of face-to-face communication with patients.
The findings from this research study have a number of implications for the development of healthcare policy regarding patient feedback and experience, as well as for healthcare organisations in trying to maximise the benefit and impact of this information.
Date of Award24 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJulie Barnett (Supervisor)


  • patient agenda
  • patient centred care
  • social media
  • Feedback

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