Hospital Facebook Pages Reflect True Quality of Patient Experience

April 13, 2015

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Early last year, online review site Yelp shared the results of a study showing that its reviews and ratings were (surprisingly) good indicators of physicians’ medical skill as well as patient satisfaction levels. According to findings, five-star-rated medical professionals performed significantly better than those rated lower, and that they were more likely to be selected by sicker patients.

This suggests that doctor reviews and patient and customer feedback posted online might actually be more trustworthy than critics and skeptics of review sites are willing to admit.

Now, a new study shows that the accuracy of online reviews and ratings is not limited to just doctors and healthcare professionals. It could extend to the quality of care and treatment in hospitals and healthcare facilities, too.

Moreover, Yelp is not the only reliable source of information. When it comes to the opinions of patients, social media giant Facebook could paint a pretty accurate picture, too.

Related: Sizing Up the Millennials: Report Reveals Key Digital Trends and Strategies for Healthcare Industry Marketers

Ratings on Facebook reflect hospitals’ quality of care

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, shows that hospital ratings posted on Facebook appear to correlate with hospital readmission rates and overall quality of care

In 2013, Facebook introduced the Review button and its own star rating feature. According to the study, more than 80 percent of low- and high-readmission hospitals with Facebook pages have added the feature since it was first launched.

(Check out: “The Complete Guide to Facebook Business Manager”)

The researchers then took into account the 30-day readmission data of 4,800 US hospitals based on the CMS’ Hospital Compare website. They found that:

  • Over 80 percent of hospitals had ratings in the expected national average range.
  • 8 percent had ratings significantly above average, while 7 percent had significantly below average ratings.
  • Each one-star increase in a hospital or heathcare’s Facebook rating made it 5 times more likely to fall into the low readmission group.

“We found that the hospitals in which patients were less likely to have unplanned readmissions within the 30 days after discharge had higher Facebook ratings than those with higher readmission rates,” said lead author McKinley Glover, a clinical fellow in the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). “Since user-generated social media feedback appears to be reflective of patient outcomes, hospitals and health care leaders should not underestimate social media’s value in developing quality improvement programs.”

“As we embrace data analytics to better drive how we deliver care at a systems level, this study shows there is opportunity and significant value in sentiment analysis – the use of social media data to track public opinion – as it pertains to healthcare,” added co-author Garry Choy. 

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