Making Doctors Yelp?

Yelp definition: “a short sharp cry, especially of pain or alarm.”

Apparently the online review site, Yelp, is now reviewing health care provider performance.  A recent commentary (V Lee. NEJM 2017; 376: 197-9) provides some insight into this development.

  • Yelp has had “102 million customer reviews to date, 6% of them in the health care arena;” thus, Yelp “dwarfs longer-standing commercial physician review sites such as Healthgrades and Vitals.”
  • “Physicians do not always respond positively to the sudden exposure of sometimes negative reviews.”  These reviews could contribute to drops in physician morale.
  • However, these reviews are here to stay and help patients make more informed choices, provide performance feedback, and may improve quality in health care.
  • The biggest problems with these reviews include the fact that anyone (even a disgruntled neighbor, ex-girlfriend) can post a review and due to clarity of the reviews.  In addition, patient reviews should not be viewed without other metrics like quality and cost.

My take (borrowed from author): “the question is not whether there should be public disclosure of information on patient satisfaction, outcomes, and costs — it’s how and by whom it should be done.”

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