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Using maternity-care episodes as templates for improving patients’ experiences


Sanjay Shah, director of strategic innovation at Dignity Health, told FierceHealthcare that when the California-based system considered how it could improve  patients’ experiences, it decided to look at various  moments along patients’ episodes of care by  partnering with a startup focused on maternity care.

Mr. Shah said that the system wants to expand what it has learned so far to other specialties, including oncology and orthopedics, reports Fierce.

“The vision if this is done well, and so far things are going well, is ‘How do we take that experience and extrapolate to other patient experiences? [Maternity] was one we thought if we did right first we could replicate for others.”

The Dignity Health partner, startup Docent Health, studied Yelp responses for maternity patients at four Dignity facilities in Arizona. It found that more than 60 percent of maternity patients who had posted reviews had a favorable view of the experience.

Fierce said: “Many of the comments in the mined data were related to staff and how the patients were treated, with commentary about the hospital staff mentioned in 43 percent of the studied reviews. The study also identified a surprising area these patients were less interested in: Just 2 percent of reviews mentioned billing, an interesting discovery as the costs for maternity care can fluctuate widely.”

Docent has also conducted “welcome calls” about 15 weeks out from delivery to get ideas on what patients expect from care. “The organization identified top requests from expectant mothers, information that organizations can use to benefit other types of patients,” Fierce reported:

  • “Offer a tour: Some pregnant patients would like the opportunity to visit the labor floor and the maternity ward before they give birth.
  • “Provide clear instructions prior to registration: It can be confusing for some patients to understand the requirements for registration and how they can learn more about the care a facility provides.
  • “Ask about prior experiences: Pregnant patients who have had children before want to share their experiences, and that information can be valuable for clinicians to get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
  • “Make referrals easy:Expectant mothers will need to set up pediatric care quickly. Offer resources that can speed up that process.”

T0 read more, please hit this link.

How much do Yelp reviews improve healthcare?

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.

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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