Yelp: A Growing Physician Review Site You Can’t Ignore

April 20, 2017


A Growing Physician Review Site

Like it or not, there’s a wealth of physician review sites available online 24/7. For starters, there’s HealthgradesZocDoc, and Vitals. There’s the Consumer Checkbook for Surgeon RatingsCMS’ Physician compare site, and ProPublica’s Surgeon Scorecard. But what site are most consumers turning to before they pick a new healthcare provider?

It’s Yelp, which is also the sound you just made. Although Yelp is generally associated with restaurant reviews and foodies, it’s also a growing resource for patients when selecting a new healthcare provider, especially with millennials. Oh yeah, and did I mention that Yelp has more than 140 million unique visitors each month?

But here’s where things get problematic: How trustworthy are these reviews? Are these sites like Wikipedia, written by anyone with access to the internet so you need to be cautious and consider the source? Or should we treat them more like valuable patient-reported feedback tools?

A study published this month by the Manhattan Institute (specific to New York state organizations) suggests the latter. Back in 2015, Yelp teamed up with ProPublica and published information for more than 25,000 hospitals, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics. Data points include average wait times, readmission rates, and the quality of communication between the organization and patient.

Surprisingly, the study found that these particular Yelp reviews were consistent with similar assessments conducted by Medicare, such as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). On top of that, the study found that there was a correlation between higher Yelp ratings and what CMS deems a quality hospital. Therefore the study concluded, “Yelp scores are good composite measures of hospital quality.”

That reason alone is why the authors are calling for New York State officials to take steps to increase Yelp’s visibility to the public. They want to take steps to make sure the information posted on Yelp is accurate and encompasses the appropriate and accurate metrics for the most transparency possible. This is critical as healthcare becomes a more competitive marketplace — consumers want you to be as clear as glass.

Why the negative review?

A separate study done by our friends over at MDValuate found the three main factors that spark negative reviews:

Poor patient experience, doctor attitude, or other customer service issues (87%);
No emotional connection/poor communication skills (62%); and
Long wait times (53%).

So how do you handle these negative reviews? Wouldn’t you know it, MDValuate recently published this informative blog on how to answer negative reviews on HealthGrades. The tips here are super helpful and can apply to each review site in the mix.

Tips include:

Remember you’re on a public forum and everyone can see your response.
Don’t be defensive or judgemental.
Never include any personal identifiable information or any other information that will get you in trouble with HIPAA.
Be succinct and sympathetic.

Source: Manhattan Institute

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