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.”
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