The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has developed technology similar to that used to counter terrorism in order to trawl the web for complaints against health services.
The commission has consulted with defence agency spinoff Qinetiq to develop technology designed to help it ensure that the country's 45,0000 health bodies meet the minimum requirements for care standards. Once the data has been identified it will be mined using sentiment analysis.
Alongside NHS organisations, this includes the social care sector, such as nursing homes, private health practices and dental clinics.
The commission plans to pilot the service by April, initially looking at comments on hospital web-sites, local news reports and health forums. It hopes to roll out a full implementation in early 2012.
It estimates that the pilot will cost less than £1m to test, while a national roll-out of the scheme could save tens-of-millions in manual labour costs.
Richard Hamblin, director of intelligence at the CQC, said the technology will help it to identify patterns in substandard practices. "It will make us more effective as an organisation and will allow us to spot patterns more quickly," he said.
Sentiment analysis is a tool which organisations and companies use to research the positive and negative opinions about a product or service.