By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
The crowd sourcing, user-review site Yelp has emerged as a regular reference check for people looking for hospitals, doctors, urgent care, dentists and other health and medical businesses.
Notwithstanding that Yelp is a mash-up of all types of local business listings—from auto repair to yogurt stores—prospective patients frequently tap into the social networking reviews, comments and star ratings authored by other patients. By one survey, better than 40 percent of respondents said that social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital and medical facility.
ER Wait Time and other data…
User reviews are inherently subjective (and sometimes suspect), and that probably works better for restaurants than for hospitals. But Yelp has added more objective data, via medicare.gov, to advise visitors of ER Wait Time, as well as Doctor Communications and Quiet Rooms ratings.
If you haven’t checked your listing recently, it may have changed with this recent update that includes 25,000 hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis clinics in the US. (Initially this appears on the desktop version of Yelp; soon to be available in the mobile app.)
Are future changes likely?
More changes could be in store for Yelp’s Health category; it represents about six percent of all Yelp user references, and it’s clearly an influence factor in the patient decision process.
All is not-so-rosey for Yelp on Wall Street. With a poor earnings report, and a 27 percent stock drop, a CNNmoney article asks: Is Yelp on its deathbed? And that might be a little harsh.
The business future of Yelp is, at least by this report, somewhat uncertain. For example, it cites problems of fake reviews, a “cloud of [consumer] distrust, and that it’s being used less and less frequently.”
Nevertheless, user reviews continue to grow on Yelp; an indication that consumers continue to like and use the social platform. In the long view, the move in the healthcare industry toward greater transparency encourages a positive patient experience.
These issues are not exclusive to Yelp’s health listings. Healthcare and hospital communicators may want to monitor their Yelp listings as carefully and frequently as ever. It seems likely that more changes will appear in the future.
For related reading, see these previous articles: