Thursday, April 21, 2016

What Yelp Can Tell You About a Hospital That Official Ratings Can’t

Yelp is home to reviews on everything from restaurants to salons, and now hospitals too. If you've ever taken the time to give Yelp your two cents about a hospital, you'll be happy to know that someone's listening and that they've deemed the crowdsourced information not only useful — but unique.

In what is believed to be the first large-scale analysis of such data, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at 17,000 Yelp reviews of 1,352 hospitals from consumers. The researchers found that the Yelp reviews provide more and broader information than the stalwart U.S. government created survey that costs millions of dollars to implement every year.

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey or HCAHPS has been used since 2006 and involves asking discharged patients questions about their stays. It consists of 11 categories ranging from communication with medical staff, to staff responsiveness, pain management, and hospital hygiene.

Yelp offers consumers the ability to rate hospitals on a scale of one to five stars and write a review to accompany that rating. The U-Penn researchers used natural language processing to take apart the narratives and put them into buckets that were similar to the categories used by the HCAHPS. They gave as an example a post that had words such as "pain," "nurse," "medication," "gave" and how that might be assigned to the pain category.

Their paper, published in the April issue of Health Affairs, found that Yelp reviews encompassed only about seven of the 11 categories covered by the HCAHPS.

But, the data still proved surprising. The Yelp reviews had information about 12 additional categories that weren't addressed in the government survey. Those include the cost of the hospital visit, insurance and billing, ancillary testing, facilities, amenities, scheduling, compassion of staff, family member care, quality of nursing, quality of staff, quality of technical aspects of care, and specific type of medical care.

For positive reviews they included caring doctors, nurses and staff; comforting; surgery/procedure and peri-op; and labor and delivery. And for negative reviews, they included insurance and billing and cost of hospital visit.

The publication of the paper comes at a key time for Yelp when the social media site is trying to transform itself from a social, whimsy, and casual review website to a more serious player in other consumer domains.

The original article by  Ariana Eunjung Cha can be found at the following address:

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