Partnership Provides Reviews of Health Care Facilities

Published August 6, 2015

Yelp is probably best known for its restaurant reviews, but a new partnership with ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization, will add health care data to its review pages of providers. The company hopes this will give consumers more access to government information on hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis clinics.

For instance, consumers can now look up a hospital emergency room’s average wait time, fines paid by a nursing home, or how often patients getting dialysis treatment are readmitted to a hospital because of treatment-related infections or other problems, says the Washington Post.

The information comes from ProPublica’s own research and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It consists of data for 4,600 hospitals, 15,000 nursing homes, and 6,300 dialysis clinics in the United States, and will be updated quarterly.

New Venture Empowers Health Care Consumers

Wired quotes Yelp vice president of public policy Luther Lowe, saying, “People aren’t typing ’emergency room Santa Monica’ into Yelp for fun. They’re on their way to the hospital and trying to figure out which one has the shortest wait time. People are coming to Yelp to make these decisions, and it makes so much sense to put this government data in the context where people are actually going to rely on it.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post quotes Scott Klein, ProPublica’s assistant managing editor, saying millions of Yelp users will also have access to the news organization’s data. In return, the news organization will have bulk access to all of Yelp’s health-care reviews to use in research for news stories.

And at USA Today, the paper quotes Yelp spokeswoman Rachel Walker, saying ProPublica advised Yelp on which data points would be the most effective for display — such as health care facilities’ average ER wait time, patient-reported information on physician communication, and the noise level in patient rooms.

“This is all about doing everything we can to protect and empower consumers and give them as much information as possible about a local business when they’re making a spending decision,” Walker said.

USA Today also quotes Andrew Ibbotson, vice president of the National Research Corporation, which converts thousands of patient satisfaction surveys into online ratings for hospitals personal websites, saying Yelp is taking a great step in providing consumers with more information on health care providers.

“While it is helpful, having general information doesn’t really add as much value as doctor-specific feedback that pretty much every hospital in the country is capturing,” he said. “Health care is very personal — often it is about a one-on-one relationship, so the information that consumers crave the most is information about a particular doctor.”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) is managing editor of Health Care News.