An article in Health Affairs looks at the growing “Yelpification” of U.S. healthcare, citing an April 2017 New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth)-funded study, in which the conservative Manhattan Institute explored how much Yelp ratings of hospitals in New York State correspond to objective outcomes measures across all of a hospital’s patients.
The Health Affairs piece reported: “The study found that higher Yelp ratings are correlated with better-quality hospitals and can offer consumers a useful, clear, and reliable tool that can be easily accessed. In short, for one very important measure—potentially preventable readmissions—Yelp ratings appear to have a moderately strong correlation with that measure. That is, higher Yelp scores for hospitals are associated with lower readmission rates.”
“But while this research has helped to move the needle on validating Yelp as an important asset in the tool chest of health care quality tools, there are still important questions left unanswered.
“For starters, do the disparate (and often contradictory) messages from existing rating systems have the potential to help non-savvy patients identify higher quality providers? Or do those messages just lead such patients to throw up their hands in frustration?
“Whether Yelp ratings contribute to this potential confusion or help generate greater understanding isn’t clear yet. Indeed, Yelp ratings of hospitals are in their infancy—relatively low sample size over the years and concentration in more urban areas mean that a wait-and-see approach might be best. However, the hope is that consumers’ trust of Yelp as a platform, and the open-ended, more personal nature of reviews, will over time build up into a useful metric of hospital quality.
“Both insurers and providers should also explore how user-generated reviews can help them to obtain information about patients with different needs—here, the free-form style of Yelp text reviews can be an advantage, in both understanding what patients value most and what they are most concerned about.”
To read more, please hit this link.
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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
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.