Article | April 12, 2016

Healthcare providers: Yelp isn’t coming, it’s already here

“Never again will I make the mistake of coming to this hospital.” Yelp Review, 3/1/2016

Healthcare providers: Yelp isn’t coming, it’s already hereIn today’s super-connected world, word of mouth referrals have taken on new life and increased influence. Ninety-two percent of consumers read online reviews, and, according to a Harvard Business School paper, an organization can see their revenue grow by five to nine percent with every one star rating increase on Yelp. As high deductibles continue to rise, consumers have begun to research their healthcare options and their provider with the help of online reviews and others’ opinions.

In fact, a recent study has found that Yelp rates patient experiences better than the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). Specifically, Yelp reviews dive into assessments of clinical experience, billing and hospital costs. More importantly, feedback is not limited to discharged patients: families and care givers are sharing their stories and recommendations.

What does this mean for healthcare providers? They’re no longer catering only to their patients’ needs, but to the expectations of families and care givers. If not prepared, healthcare organizations’ reputations can be dramatically impacted.

How to prepare for online reviews:

  • Ask for reviews: Did a patient or their loved one enjoy their healthcare experience? Were they complimentary to the staff and appreciative of the services they received? If yes, don’t be afraid to ask for an online review. Consumers understand the importance of word of mouth, and if their experience was exceptional, they’ll be happy to leave a review for your organization.
  • Listen to their feedback: Monitor your online reviews on Yelp, Google and other sites that provide this avenue for consumers. Be sure to utilize online tools that collect and report on various reviews for your organization. Listening to consumers’ feedback provides an opportunity to improve upon processes that are no longer sufficient to their needs and/or discover new areas that are important to them, such as billing practices and price transparency.
  • Respond: Reviews are another touchpoint with the consumer. Use consumers’ online feedback as an opportunity to have a conversation with them. If it was a negative review, understand the consumer’s frustration and provide a call to action to solve the issue. For positive reviews, illustrate your gratitude and reinforce your organization’s commitment to their wellness. No matter what, always thank your reviewers for their feedback. Yelp and Google also contribute helpful resources on how to effectively respond to online reviews.

Patient satisfaction is expanding beyond the hospital’s facility. Consumers—be they patients themselves or friends and family members—are evaluating hospitals’ brand and performance after their visit; whether it’s the billing practices, customer service, or responses to online reviews. Healthcare providers prepared for these changes will stand apart from their competition.