If you don’t think Yelp is relevant for your hospital, think again.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania took a look at hospital reviews on Yelp, and what they found was quite interesting—the reviews actually provided insight into more patient experience categories than the U.S. government-funded Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers Systems Survey (HCAHPS). The university study looked at 17,000 Yelp reviews of 1,352 hospitals and is considered the first large-scale analysis of this type of information, according to The Washington Post. The study was published in Health Affairs’ April issue.
In the study, the researchers broke the Yelp reviews into categories that were similar to HCAHPS. While they found that the Yelp reviews only included 7 of the 11 main HCAHPS categories, they also found that the Yelp reviews encompassed 12 additional categories, according to the news article.
Here were the additional categories represented in Yelp reviews:
- Ancillary testing
- Compassion of staff
- Family member care
- Cost of hospital visit
- Insurance and billing
- Quality of nursing
- Quality of staff
- Quality of technical aspects of care
- Specific type of medical care
The researchers did note some of the downsides of Yelp reviews—there is no way to verify that all of the reviewers are actual patients and they are not randomized. However, they also stated that Yelp reviews tend to describe positive and negative experiences in greater detail, and they are updated on a regular basis.
Yelp Has Been Stepping Up Its Game in the Hospital Reviews Sphere
Unlike what many people believe, Yelp isn’t just a place to look up information about local restaurants and storefronts. It’s also a place to glean insight about more professional settings such as hospitals.
As we can see from the study above, patients do take the time to share meaningful comments about their hospital experiences on online platforms such as Yelp… and others are taking these reviews seriously. According to a 2014 study by Software Advice, Yelp was listed by patients as the most used and most trusted review site.
The online reviews platform has actually been working to boost its review offerings in the healthcare sector as well. It partnered with news organization ProPublica last year to add some hard data to its reviews for hospitals, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics.
Due to the partnership, reviews of these medical facilities are now shown with information gathered from government data, such as average ER wait times, the number of quiet rooms reported, the quality of doctor communication reported, the number of nursing home fines, etc. This information just makes Yelp that much more useful and relevant to current and potential patients.
Bottom line: Know the impact that Yelp has on your hospital’s reputation and be ready with an action plan.
While you can’t control what patients write about your hospital online, you can improve your overall reviews profile by taking a more active role in your online reputation (a key component of your hospital marketing strategy). There are a number of things your hospital can do, such as reminding patients about where they can leave reviews and properly responding to patient reviews, both positive and negative.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of online reviews for hospitals and tips for managing them, download this free e-book!