Healthcare Gets the Star Treatment from Yelp

August 10, 2015

The next sign that patients are now healthcare consumers came from Yelp last week. The notice to healthcare providers came on the official Yelp blog:

Today we’re excited to announce we’ve joined forces with ProPublica to incorporate health care statistics and consumer opinion survey data onto the Yelp business pages of more than 25,000 medical treatment facilities.

Keeping Healthcare Users Informed

According to the blog, the move is to keep Yelp users informed about healthcare issues. “[W]e have much more planned. We’re aiming to add more restaurant health scores for cities and counties across the US on Yelp. We’re working with cities to provide a feed of Yelp restaurant reviews to aid planning decisions for inspections and faster discovery of outbreaks.”

As a first step, Yelp has published information “compiled by ProPublica from their own research and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for 4,600 hospitals, 15,000 nursing homes, and 6,300 dialysis clinics in the US and will be updated quarterly.”

This is a positive move for healthcare. Previously hospitals, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics were simply able to be reviewed on Yelp without any additional guidelines. The information provided by ProPublica includes publicly reported, standardized information such as average wait time, readmission rates, and quality of communication.

Yelp Provider Information

Valuable Insight for Healthcare Providers

Yelp may not be a place you have considered for measuring your patient experience. With this announcement, there is no better time to see what your patient population is saying about the care your providers give. Like CAHPS® scores, Yelp reviews may be difficult to read, however they provide an excellent opportunity to measure your patient sentiment in real-time. Take advantage of the opportunity for rapid information regarding performance initiatives. Yelp has updated their review policies to allow patients to provide the names of key staff which makes rewarding quality performance easier.

Using Yelp Insight to Demonstrate Your Commitment to Care

In addition to learning about the way patients, their families, and friends see your facility, Yelp reviews offer a way for you to demonstrate your commitment to the community you serve. Responding to online reviews is a best practice for reputation management. Replies give you the opportunity to express your appreciation for their business and address any concerns expressed in the review. Use the A, B, C formula for responding to reviews, Acknowledge, Be responsive, Call to action. For example:

Review from Stacy C. 3 stars

I came to the ER because I was throwing up after dinner. Anne was the sweet nurse who found the right medicine to stop the nausea. I had to be admitted and once I went upstairs, the joy ended. I could not see my doctor immediately, instead I had to see Dr. Miller who barely listened to my history. Once my regular doctor came to visit, everything went well (Gall Bladder surgery). The nurses on my floor were caring, but seemed distracted.


Stacy, thank you for taking the time to leave your valuable feedback. I understand that you have choices when choosing your care and I appreciate that you chose North City Hospital. I apologize that you were not able to be seen by your regular doctor immediately upon admission. It is a challenge to contact a primary care physician after hours. I am glad that once you were diagnosed, you were happy with your care. Communication is important to me and my team so I will be sure to pass your comments about the nursing staff along. If you have specific concerns, please contact me so we can discuss them. Remember to contact your primary care physician with any questions during your recovery. Your health is important to us. Thank you, Dave A. Dministrator

Acknowledge the fact that the reviewer is a healthcare consumer with choices in the marketplace and express your appreciation for the patient’s business. Be responsive to the reviewer’s feedback, positive or negative, by addressing it in your response. Finally leave them with a call to action, in this case to contact their provider with specific concerns. Remember that your response will be read by 3 audiences: the reviewer, future patients, and potential employees, all who are looking to work with a provider who expresses concern for them.

Yelp is educating patients, giving them qualified, standardized information that will supplement the free-reign they’ve had previously. This gives healthcare providers an opportunity to assess patient sentiment that is quantified by reputable, vetted information. Additionally, healthcare leaders now have a way to respond directly to patient and community concerns in a way that expresses commitment to care before they come through your door.

Contact SPH Analytics to learn additional ways to measure the patient experience and take action to measurably improve the quality of care.

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