6 hospital marketing execs on maintaining transparency when displaying patient reviews

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In the last decade, hospital marketing teams have increasingly focused on transparency. For many hospitals, part of transparency is displaying patient reviews on their website.

Below, six health system executives discuss why they display reviews and how they maintain transparency.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for clarity and style.

Adrienne Boissy, MD. Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic. In 2015, Cleveland Clinic was among the first hospitals to post physician reviews on our website. We decided to do this in order to promote transparency and to provide a more accurate picture of physician ratings. Many websites post reviews based on just one comment, or allow reviews from people that aren’t even patients. The patient ratings we post are based on verified encounters and represent an average of all responses to questions from outpatient and inpatient surveys.

To ensure the ratings are accurate and reliable, ratings are only displayed for providers with a minimum of 30 returned surveys. Comments are included and monitored by the Office of Patient Experience to make sure there is no protected health information or vulgarity included. We post both positive and negative comments from the surveys. More details can be found here.

Andrew Resnick, MD. Senior Vice President & Chief Quality and Safety Officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston). We believe strongly in transparency for our patients, and we have been posting patient reviews and patient ratings on our public website for several years. As with most of the organizations that adopt full transparency, we have very strict and limited criteria for exceptions to what we post, which include posts that contain protected health information, profanity, discriminatory language, personal attacks, threats or comments unrelated to the patient experience.

Suzanne Bharati Hendery. Chief Marketing and Customer Officer at Renown Health (Reno. Nev.). Seventy-seven percent of consumers we surveyed said they’d be more likely to make an appointment with a provider with real patient ratings. In June of 2018, Renown Medical Group began publishing ratings and comments from the “overall physician rating” question on the patient satisfaction survey on each “Find A Provider” page at renownhealth.org, and 99.7 percent of the 32,875 ratings published for 171 providers are very positive at 4 or 5 stars. Overall, Renown providers rate 4.8/5 point scale, which is fantastic. We now have over 70,000 patient voices on our website, helping potential patients find the provider that is right for them.

Renown was among the first on the West Coast to fully embrace full transparency. Transparency improved performance on patient experience measures. Providers appreciate receiving feedback from "real" patients and opportunities to enhance their practice and relationships. Having hundreds of reviews, instead of a handful, allows us to protect our providers' online reputations across all social media platforms and to lead people back to our website to make appointments.

Consumers appreciate the transparency. We experienced a 6 percent Increase in visitor traffic to the "Find a Provider" area on our website in the first three months of launching star ratings, and a 11 percent overall increase in web traffic and now host 91,500 visitors to our website each month.

Kim Accorsi. Director of Digital Services at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (Lebanon, N.H.). Patient reviews are critical to the audience experience. Almost every online interaction we make as consumers is influenced by peer reviews, whether purchasing from an online retailer, choosing a new restaurant, vacation rental, contractor or service provider. Consumers have come to expect this style of feedback.

Reviews are already being generated on third-party sites like Google, Facebook, WebMD, even Yelp in some cases. Unfortunately, there is no way for a consumer to verify that the reviewer is actually a legitimate patient. By providing verified reviews and ratings on your website, you have the option both to educate your patients about verified reviews and potentially influence negative reviews you might be seeing within third-party websites. Verified reviews can be indexed as structured data into search engines. Google, in fact, will post the organization website ratings alongside Healthgrades and Vitals in its knowledge card. This is actually incredibly beneficial in helping consumers understand the legitimacy of ratings/reviews across all websites.

At Dartmouth-Hitchcock, we do display anonymous patient reviews directly on provider profiles. The reviews come from submitted patient reviews which have gone through extensive internal review to ensure privacy is maintained and reviews meet acceptable guidelines (e.g., do not contain profanity or slanderous comments). All reviews are posted, no matter if they are positive or negative, and without editing.

Vincent Serio. Director of Digital and Emerging Media at UCHealth (Aurora, Colo.). We support transparency by posting patient reviews on our website and encourage other hospitals and health systems to do the same because consumers expect it and use the information to make decisions that impact their health. At UCHealth, we utilize existing survey systems to pull in reviews and pipe them to the website for all to see on our provider profiles.

Sarah Sanders. Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Nemours Children’s Health System (Jacksonville, Fla.). Our first priority is to ensure we are getting feedback from our patients and families so we can ensure that we are delivering great quality and experience — and to be able to improve if we are not exceeding expectations. Secondarily, we know this is important information to share with our potential patients and families because, specifically for millennials, it has become a primary driver for decision-making. We’re in the process of building that repository and creating the internal mechanisms to manage feedback, and as we work through that to ensure data quality, our goal is to integrate that back online.

There’s no doubt that online reviews play a critical role in patient decision-making, and what better way to support those seeking care than offering them information that reflects the full breadth of reviews about your organization, as opposed to a few in isolation on third-party sites. Nemours Children’s Health System was one of the early adopters of sharing patient reviews on our website. We know being transparent is one of the best strategies to drive your search quality. We’ve recently implemented a new patient satisfaction management program, including the implementation of digital responses, which is critical to more real-time engagement.

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