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Researchers tout use of Yelp reviews of hospitals


A new Manhattan Institute paper  examines the correlation between Yelp reviews of New York State hospitals and objective measures of hospital quality.  The researchers say that the Yelp scores are an accurate composite measure of hospital quality even though some providers say that they’re leery of such hospital rankings because, the skeptics say, they  don’t account for the fact that some institutions  care for sicker patient populations than others. The basic metric used is potentially preventable hospital readmissions.

The  researchers said hospitals can use  and respond to social-media measuring systems to better build their business while helping consumers more expertly navigate the world’s most complicated healthcare system.

“By disseminating neutral, clear signals about basic hospital quality, social media tools can also improve the ability of higher-quality hospitals to compete to attract market share, leading to more lives saved and more costs avoided for patients, taxpayers and employers,” they write.

They recommend:

  1. “Help make Yelp scores and reviews more visible when consumers are making important decisions about healthcare coverage—for instance, when choosing among competing insurers’ hospital networks on New York State’s health-insurance exchange.
  2. “Link objective, simple quality metrics onto the Yelp review page for hospitals to allow patients with specific concerns to access more detailed information that would complement and better inform Yelp quality ratings.
  3. “Fund targeted “hackathons” that find ways to make Yelp and other social media reviews more accessible to high-needs, vulnerable populations—including caregivers for the frail, elderly, non-English-speaking, or low-income minority populations.”

To read the Manhattan Institute paper, please hit this link.


Studying social media to find patient-engagement gaps


FierceHealthcare reports on how researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Health System see social-media platforms  such as Yelp as helping to identify patient-engagement gaps and  to offer insights into improving the hospital experience for  patients and caregivers.

“Since 2013, Raina Merchant, M.D., has led efforts to explore social media data through Penn Medicine’s Social Media Laboratory. Last week, she was named director of the Center for Digital Health, a newly created research arm of the health system undertaking broader efforts to explore social media data,” FierceHealthcare reported.

“Under her direction, researchers at the Center for Digital Health will pull data from Facebook, Yelp, Instagram and other online sites to better understand how patients interact with the health system, and what clinicians can do to improve that experience.”

To read more, please hit this link.

Yelp given high marks in plumbing patient experience


A study in Health Affairs found that Yelp reviews went deeper into the patient experience than the HCAHPS survey. That’s in part because  in-hospital patients and patients’ family members posted reviews.  Reviews included  comfort, billing issues and hospital costs. Only discharged patients are queried in the HCAHPS survey.

Physicians, hospitals face ProPublica pressure


Yelp, the consumer review site and mobile app,  is expanding its pages with quality-assessment data  about physicians and hospitals from the nonprofit investigative-journalism group ProPublica.

The Sacramento Bee reports that ProPublica “will provide quarterly updates on health services at 4,600 hospitals, 15,000 nursing homes and 6,300 dialysis clinics in the United States, using data it has compiled from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The information will include emergency department wait times, patient survival rates, incurred fines and physician communication ratings.”

Many in the medical community have complained that the profiles  can give an incomplete picture of hospital and physician performance.

Brian Jensen, regional vice president of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, told The Sacramento Bee that the profiles may not capture a complete picture of health services, even with the added quality metrics.

“I would caution that oftentimes, because of the complexities of health care and how it’s measured and all of the different services, it might not always transfer as easily to an application like Yelp as, say, your favorite Chinese restaurant. But consumers should have as much of a say as possible.”

However much physicians and hospital officials  dislike these review services, their numbers will increase.


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