Monday, May 9, 2016

Report from a Consumer Rep - Online feedback for users, carers and providers

Below is a report by Consumer Representative Bernard Borg-Caruana on a recent session he attended on online feedback for users, carers and providers.

Online feedback for users, carers and providers

This session provided the challenges of gathering and publishing online feedback and recommended ways of increasing the potential of this avenue for users, carers and providers.

Lisa Trigg of the London School of Economics and Political Science presented on online rating and reviews for care providers.

This is in relation to the MyAgedCare website. The presentation for Aged Care  is where the Australian Government is implementing it. However in the UK it applies to all facilities and similar principles apply.

Aged Care covers:  community care, residential aged care and high care facilities.

How can you measure quality and the consumer experience?


1. Why is it important?
2. Policy Context
3. Example
4. Challenges
5. Opportunities

Why is it Important?

Online reviews are the new word of mouth that 54% of adult consumers use before making purchases. 

Twitter and opinions empower patients.

We want consumer directed care and empowered consumers

Gravity of the decision

Difficulty of moving between providers


You can only really assess the service once you have experienced it 

We trust providers.

UK bodies:  CMA + Care Quality Commission (CQC) +  NHS Choices all have a strong interest in this

After engaging constructively with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), 2 websites for finding tradespeople, Checkatrade and Trustatrader, and the care home review sites, Care Opinion and Most Recommended Care, have all agreed to improve their practices. These improvements address concerns that were raised following a call for information by the CMA on online reviews and endorsements.


The example is often given of Trip Advisor but some excellent lessons from Amazon (particularly regarding Fake Reviews).

Trip Advisor is usually ignored until you’re travelling somewhere where you have no experience: you have to use it.

People go out to dinner and do not review their experience but when selecting a restaurant will look at the star rating.

Some characteristics of aged care settings are “inelastic”:

1. Once you pick a facility you are unlikely to change it; even with bad experiences, a change in care, especially for dementia patients, can be detrimental but social dislocation is a factor for all residents. It is not the same as switching to a new product.

2. The gravity of the decision: How do you know that your loved one would have lived longer or had a happier life at another facility.  This is challenging in retrospect but even more challenging in Prospective decision making.

3. This is not like a diagnosis. You cannot get a second opinion. All care is individual. How can you be sure you have the right care.  

4. Cost of moving—recovering deposits

5. Choice is limited: Availability of services and proximity to the support network.

Residential Aged Care turnover is low and if there is no vacancy. It is unlikely that a consumer will check it out. Could end up with skewed reviews.

Who reviews?

Digital Inclusion reports in Australia and UK equivalent (OFCOM 2013): 

Older people are less likely to be on the internet entering reviews. They spend less time on the internet and few push information 

In Australia less than 10% of Indigenous Aboriginal's have IT access outside cities.

Wisdom of crowds – Surowiecki, 2004

Motivations: Some are altruistic and want to help others make better decisions but others think they can help the providers improve service

How do you know you’re getting a trusted reviewer? Some sites publish a number of reviews performed by a reviewer --- may not be useful in aged care as turnover is low.

Fake reviews— are big business – Amazon is suing publishers and providers of fake reviews.

Fake reviews by providers are a big issue and difficult to manage.

Positive reviews of their business and negative reviews for competitors—See Amazon’s experience

One review in the UK described a facility as excellent; 4 reviews over 3 years said 2 average and 2 terrible; NHS assessment, many areas were average and many below par and is always bordering on being closed down.


Laws --- ACCC in Australia – false and misleading claims--  

You can also be held responsible for posts or public comments made by others on your social media pages which are false or likely to mislead or deceive consumers.

Businesses using social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have a responsibility to ensure content on their pages is accurate, irrespective of who put it there.

Monitor your social media pages 


Access to technology

Sufficient knowledge – technical knowledge to assess all aspects of the facility

Some large organisations may get good average reviews but may have a terrible eg chemotherapy unit ie not all services are the same.

Sometimes the people in the home are not in a position to advise you if they are getting the right care eg dementia patients.

Fear of reprisal and retribution – if you see bruising on your parent in a home ---

For effective review system:  the Government MUST look at defamation laws.

What consumers want:

1. Peer discussion; to meet privately with 1-2 people who had experience with a facility.

2. Stories override rating systems. If someone tells you a story, it often trumps the raw statistics and will sway you.

3. Accountability and reliable reviews

4. Reviews are not a substitute for an effective complaints system and need to be kept separate.

5. Advice to consumers:    Never rely on one source.

Difference in UK

Rating is linked to Pricing:  ie if you have 4+ star rating you can charge above $230 but if you have 3 stars you can charge a max of $230,  etc…


Digital Inclusion reports in Australia 

UK equivalent (OFCOM 2013: 

Wisdom of crowds – Surowiecki, 2004

Motivation of Reviewers – Sundaram et al 1998

Ubel 2001

Recognition of Reviewers

CMA report 2016 (Competition and Marketing Authority )

By Bernard Borg-Caruana

No comments: