Patient Opinion has announced a “mash-up” with NHS Choices comments released onto a Cabinet Office website to promote new uses of government information.
The independent website, which was founded by a Sheffield GP and is funded by subscriptions from trusts, regulators and others, has taken an NHS Choices data feed from a site run by the Cabinet Office’s Power of Information Taskforce and combined it with its own service.
This means that patients and carers can find comments about hospital care posted on either Patient Opinion or NHS Choices, using Patient’s Opinion’s site. And subscribers can generate reports using feedback from both sites.
Comments that were made through NHS Choices are identified with a logo, since identifying the source of information is one of the conditions of using the feeds provided.
James Munro, Patient Opinion’s director of informatics and research, told E-Health-Insider that the Cabinet Office site is “tapping into a new mood in government of ‘let’s share’.”
"There is a growing recognition that no organisation, including the state, can do everything and a willingness to say ‘let’s see what happens if we put information out there’,” he said. “More and more departments seem to understand that they need to let go and see what people can do.”
He added there was no evidence that NHS Choices was unhappy with the development and said he would be happy to see the government site take a feed from Patient Opinion in the future. “I see feedback as a public resource,” he said. “It needs to be used.”
Patient Opinion initially set up in Yorkshire and only covered the whole of England in June last year. It still receives fewer comments about services in London and the South East; where NHS Choices seems to have a stronger presence.
“It was our subscribers who said we like Patient Opinion, but we are also seeing information on NHS Choices, so we now have to go to two places,” said Munro. “We thought that should not be necessary, given the way the web works.
“The mash-up is useful for users and for subscribers, because they get information about all the comments that are being made in one place.
“What we are really interested in is getting information and turning it into something of real benefit to the NHS and its users. We felt that NHS Choices could do more with the information it had.
“Our subscribers include trusts, patient groups interested in particular conditions and MPs who want to know what is happening in their constituencies; people who can really use information to make a difference.”
The Power of Information Taskforce is running a competition to encourage people to submit ideas for new services using government data. It has persuaded a number of government departments to release their data for mash-ups and new services.
Munro said Patient Opinion was looking at some of the other feeds that had become available. “We are definitely looking at doing more, because there are some very interesting things on there,” he said.