Yelp expands its hospital reviews: ER wait times, doc communication now available to consumers

Along with online patient reviews, consumers will now have easier access to federal data on hospitals--including average wait times to see a doctor in the emergency room--under a new partnership between Yelp and ProPublica.

Yelp will update its hospital listings with ProPublica's own research and data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare website. The site, known for its reviews of restaurants and hotels, plans to update the data each quarter for 4,600 hospitals, 15,000 nursing homes and 6,300 dialysis clinics in the U.S.

Clicking on a hospital listing will produce a pop-up that provides consumers with data on the organization's ER wait times, quality of doctor communications and patient room noise level, based on patient satisfaction surveys.

Although the federal data is already available via Medicare, it's often difficult to navigate and Yelp's search engine may get the information in front of more people so consumers can make better choices.

"We're taking data that otherwise might live in some government pdf that's hard to find and we're putting it in a context where it makes sense for people who may be in the middle of making critical decisions," Luther Lowe, Yelp's vice president for policy, told The Washington Post.

Although many in the industry criticize online rating sites because they don't provide patients with full insight into care quality and expertise, numerous hospitals try to use the rankings to their advantage, publicizing positive feedback and compiling negative reviews so they can address the problems.

To make it easier for consumers to understand hospital quality ratings, Medicare now ranks facilities on a five-star scale. Nearly 550 hospitals now boast five stars on the site, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read ProPublica's announcement
- here's The Washington Post story

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