Turning the gaze: Digital patient feedback and the silent pathology of the NHS

Catherine M. Montgomery*, John Powell, Kamal Mahtani, Anne-Marie Boylan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Online review and rating sites, where patients can leave feedback on their experience of the healthcare encounter, are becoming an increasing feature of primary care in the NHS. Previous research has analysed how digital surveillance is re-shaping the clinical gaze, as healthcare professionals are subject to increased public monitoring. Here, we draw on an empirical study of 41GP practice staff to show how the gaze is turning, not simply from the patient to the healthcare provider, but additionally to the body politic of the NHS. Drawing on focus group and interview data conducted in five UK practices, we show how discourses of online reviews and ratings are producing new professional subjectivities among healthcare professionals and the extent to which the gaze extends not only to individual healthcare interactions but to the healthcare service writ large. We identify three counter-discourses characterising the evolving ways in which online reviews and ratings are creating new subjects in primary care practices: victimhood, prosumption vs traditional values,and taking control. We show how the ways in which staff speak about online feedback are patterned by the social environment in which they work and the constraints of the NHS they encounter on a day-to-day basis.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Early online date4 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Dec 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • digital health
  • patient experience
  • primary care
  • Foucault


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