Patient ratings accurately gauge hospital quality

Contrary to research that says patients exaggerate their opinions about physicians in online reviews, a new study published Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine found that patients' online hospital ratings accurately determine which facilities have high death rates and infections.

Researchers at Imperial College London studied 10,274 patient ratings on the National Health Service (NHS) Choices website between 2009 and 2010 and concluded that hospitals with better patient ratings tend to have a 5 percent lower death rate and 11 percent lower readmission rate than those that scored worse, reported the Telegraph.

Similarly, hospitals with high cleanliness ratings had a 42 percent lower rate of MRSA infections.

The findings suggest that patient feedback on treatment may be more indicative of care quality than previously thought. According to Felix Greaves, an expert from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, the online reviews proved "useful and relevant," the Telegraph noted.

As previously reported by FierceHelthcare, hospitals that earn such high ratings should flaunt them to attract patients. That's because displaying patient satisfaction scores and quality rankings can influence patients to seek treatment at that facility, according to a Business2Community commentary.

But if hospital online reviews aren't so great, communicate directly with patients to resolve their grievances. In fact, after New York dermatologist Sumayah Jamal confronted bad reviewers face-to-face, some of her patients agreed to take down their negative reviews.

For more information:
- read the Telegraph article
- visit the NHS Choices website
- here's a study extract