A controversial website set up to allow patients to rate their doctors is to launch a project to help four major charities plot patient feedback on care pathways.

Diabetes UK is already signed up with iWantGreatCare, The Stroke Association is finalising details and two others have yet to confirm but are likely to be major charities working in long term conditions such as HIV/AIDS and cardiac care.

The project will involve iWantGreatCare working with the charities to define what matters to patients, posing questions that will capture their experience, and then asking them to rate their care using the website. The data will then be fed back to the charity to use in discussions with primary care trusts commissioning services.

Dr Neil Bacon, who founded iWantGreatCare, said his company would provide its services free. He said: “We want to develop a huge database on patient’s experience of care of diabetes. Diabetes UK will use that to talk to PCTs and find ways to improve services. This will be patients driving discussions with commissioners.”

John Grummit, vice chair of Diabetes UK, which has more than 170,000 members and is one of the largest patient organisations in Europe, added: “If we can get that momentum going and get that data out there and get that explosion of information used by decision makers it would be a big change.”

The data collection for Diabetes UK will start in May and is likely to cover things like how much patients trust a doctor, how well the doctor listened and whether patients would recommend them. There will also be questions about dignity, nursing care and cleanliness.

Dr Bacon said this was very much about patient experience. He said: “The clinical outcomes and quality measures are being done by others. We want to capture the experiences for a national picture of what it is like being a diabetic.”

Judy Walker, director of operations for The Stroke Association, added: “We want to find out what people think and to get the whole journey fastened together so we can look at the entire patient pathway. We also want to find ways to have a dialogue with commissioners and think this can enrich the picture.”

The programme was discussed at a meeting hosted by Microsoft at its Reading headquarters last week.

This was set up to look at new technology for measuring patient satisfaction and to “demonstrate how real-time patient experience monitoring can be used to transform the patient journey, revealing insights and trends to help providers continuously improve service quality.”

The event was attended by Sir Muir Gray, chief knowledge officer of the NHS, Sir Cyril Chantler, chair of The King’s Fund and Sir Donald Irvine, chair of Picker Europe, as well as PCT and acute trust directors.

Dr Bacon’s site is one of several offering to rate patient satisfaction but it has proved hugely controversial because it allows patients to rate individual doctors. The British Medical Association has opposed it, saying it could leave doctors open to abuse.

The importance of measuring real-time patient experience was under-scored this week by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who said patients should have the chance to rate their GPs. NHS Choices will this summer launch a tool allowing patients to rate their GP practice.

PCT and acute trust chief executives will already have their eye on this as it is a priority in the 2009-10 Operating Framework which says: “The opportunity to have real-time feedback of patients’ experience gives providers and commissioners an unprecedented opportunity to respond to changes and improve the patient experience."

A number of PCTs at the event said they were interested to see what iWantGreatCare had to offer but were talking to other providers too. Dr Bacon said it had now signed up four PCTs and two acute trusts to its service.