Online patient reviews often lack numbers, substance

Hospitals are increasingly incorporating online reviews into their patient satisfaction efforts, but despite their efforts so far, they have considerable work to do to provide patients with meaningful information, according to Executive Insight.

Most online provider ratings are based on an average of only 2.4 reviews per physician, and attempts to increase the supply of information have fallen short, writes Andrew Ibbotson, the vice president of the National Research Corporation.

For example, a recent partnership between Yelp and Pro Publica to publicize information on emergency room wait times and doctor communication was heavily touted, but much of the information is outdated and the project doesn't address the problem of insufficient reviews, he says. Some hospitals, such as Cleveland Clinic, MedStar and Salt Lake City's Intermountain Healthcare, address these problems in partnership with the National Research Corporation, deriving ratings directly from Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) data, according to the article.

Intermountain began posting online reviews from its 22 hospitals and 185 clinics in late July, according to HealthcareDive. It bases the reviews on a third-party assessment derived from HCAHPS, which it translates to a star rating. The system posts positive feedback immediately but flags negative reviews, warning the physician involved. After the physician is notified, the organization posts these unedited reviews unless they contain obscene language or potential privacy violations.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has announced an almost identical initiative, the first medical center in the state to do so, according to the Associated Press.

The increasingly comprehensive nature of hospital efforts to share patient feedback is cause for optimism, writes Ibbotson. "Changing the way you do business to meet the rise of healthcare consumerism might be as simple as dusting off the data you already collect and using it to equip people with the information they have come to expect when searching for new products and services."

To learn more:
- read the Executive Insight article
- here's the Healthcare Dive article
- check out the AP article