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Friday, April 15, 2016

Yelp? Boast? Cry Out?

There’s a bit of an on-going joke in my office – one that I’m the brunt of.  It’s well known that my love of alliteration and all things Thesaurus means I like to know the definition and meaning of words.  There’s a particular person at work who loves to throw in the occasional not-so–run-of-the-mill word knowing darn well I’ll be hitting Dictionary.com to verify the meaning.  This on-going joke is so well known that other members of the company will provide the definition for me if they feel I have not responded quickly enough.  The phrase “who needs enemies” comes to mind…..

Knowing my penchant for learning new words (or ensuring I know what the word means), it was with some surprise that I learned a new meaning for “yelp”.   My rudimentary belief was that it meant “to cry out” or “to call out sharply” and we often use it in reference to pain such as “The dog yelped when its owner stepped on its foot”.  Tonight I found out that Yelp dates back to Old and Middle English where it meant “to boast”.   Why, you may be wondering, would I look this up?  Well, like many people, when travelling I use the website Yelp.com to find highly rated local restaurants and other establishments because of the comments made by people like me.  You know the ones that “boast” about how great the food or service was? I was curious….

I was particularly curious after reading an article in the Washington Post “What Yelp can tell you about a hospital that official ratings can’t” – I mean who goes to Yelp to determine what hospital to go to?  Apparently now we should all consider it!   Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at 17,000 Yelp reviews from consumers and found that the information left by consumers provided a far broader overview of the hospitals then the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey) scores that are considered the industry standard for evaluating communication and responsiveness of healthcare providers, the cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment, and pain management.

The study found that while the information included on Yelp only covered about 60% of the content HCAHPS scores cover. It was also found that Yelp covered 12 different areas not included in the HCAHPS analysis such as the cost of the visit, insurance and billing, ancillary testing, facilities, amenities, scheduling, compassion of staff, family member care, quality of nursing, quality of staff, quality of technical aspects of care, and specific type of medical care.  The Yelp reviews focused more on the soft skills or interpersonal relationships such as how caring or comforting the healthcare workers were.

The testimonials on social media sites are organic and often reveal exactly what the problem or positive occurrence was that affected the patient’s or family member’s experience.  For a CEO looking to make improvements on the perception of their facility, online consumer review platforms such as Yelp may be the place to turn to in order to supplement information provided by HCAHPS.   I’m quick to Tweet about positive and negative experiences I’ve had with various service establishments, and so now I guess I’ll have to remember to use Yelp as another platform to share my thoughts and comments on!

Bugging Off!


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