Do higher Yelp scores mean higher-quality care?

Yelp reviews may actually help steer patients to higher-quality hospitals, according to a new research paper from the Manhattan Institute.

Authors Paul Howard, PhD, a senior fellow and director of health policy at Manhattan Institute, and Yevgeniy Feyman, adjunct fellow at the institute, compared "trusted" Yelp ratings of acute care hospitals in New York with objective, risk-adjusted measures of hospital quality, using data pulled from various sources.

The analysis uncovered a correlation between a hospital's Yelp rating and its rate of potentially preventable readmissions — meaning hospitals with higher Yelp star ratings had lower readmission rates.

"The results of our analysis suggest that Yelp ratings are useful and reliable, on their own, for comparing the quality, as measured by risk-adjusted, potentially preventable readmissions, of different hospitals," according to the paper. "Yelp scores are, in fact, good composite measures of hospital quality."

However, Dr. Howard and Mr. Feyman make it clear patients shouldn't rely on Yelp alone when choosing a provider organization. "[W]hen people can choose where they will obtain care — as do patients with traditional Medicare coverage for elective or planned surgeries, or when consumers can choose among insurance options — Yelp ratings can provide a helpful guide," they wrote.

Read the full paper, "Yelp for Health: Using the Wisdom of Crowds to Find High-Quality Hospitals," here.

More articles on Yelp and healthcare:
Penn Medicine sets sights on Yelp, Twitter data to drive better patient care
Yelp and patient experience — the value of unstructured reviews
Providers compromise patient privacy to defend themselves on Yelp

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