More on Quality and Safety

Crowdsourced hospital reviews mismatch patient experience and care quality, study says

As patients turn to Facebook Google and Yelp to learn about hospitals, healthcare executives should understand the implications.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Yelp hospital review. Credit: Yelp.comYelp hospital review. Credit:

Crowdsourced hospital reviews, such as those found on social media including Facebook, Google Reviews and Yelp, tend to mirror the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare Rankings when it comes to patient experience but on the metric of quality there's a wide discrepancy.

That there's a mismatch on the rankings should be of concern to hospitals because their bottom lines can be affected by online rating systems.

For best-ranked hospitals on the crowdsourcing sites, 50 to 60 percent were ranked best in Hospital Compare's overall rating -- though 20 percent of the sites' highest-ranked hospitals were rated worst by Hospital Compare, according to new research.

The disconnect? Clinical quality vs. patient safety. Hospitals that ranked best on crowdsourced sites were only ranked best on Hospital Compare about 30 percent of the time, the study found.

The influence of Yelp and its ilk has become more pronounced, especially since groups like the American Hospital Association have criticized CMS' rankings, calling for a new methodology

Yet even though Hospital Compare has come under fire from certain corners, it still represents an opportunity for hospitals to counteract negative publicity generated from crowdfunding sites. By advertising that they score well on Hospital Compare, providers can adopt marketing strategies that mitigate the ill effects of bad internet buzz, the authors said.

Crowdsourced reviews often focus on nonclinical factors, according to the research, such as wait times and patient-doctor interaction. Those factors can often mean the difference between a positive and a negative review.

Examining data from the 2016 Hospital Compare rankings, researchers compared scores for about 3,000 hospitals with Yelp, Google Reviews and Facebook rankings. Hospitals with fewer than five reviews were excluded.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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