In an age of healthcare consumerism, where online reviews can make or break a business, GlobalData believes that healthcare providers should be concerned about their online reputation. A recent survey by the patient engagement platform PatientPop found that 90% of healthcare professionals worry about receiving negative feedback online.

Due to the anonymity afforded by the internet and the fact that online content is perpetuated indefinitely, clinicians have good cause for alarm. An analysis by Vanguard Communications & Healthcare Process Improvement from 2018 found that even excellent healthcare providers receive poor to lukewarm reviews.

Of the top 20 US hospitals in 2017, as ranked by US News & World Report, 63% of Yelp reviewers rated their facility from one to three stars out of a possible five. Even more concerning is the fact that negative reviews often do not even reflect the quality of patient care; a total of 84% of complaints on Yelp of the top 20 hospitals cited non-clinical service issues as the main problem.

In recent years, a number of healthcare providers have fought back in court against damages caused by online reviews. In October 2017, Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, US sued the nonprofit watchdog organization Leapfrog Group. The hospital claimed that the organization knowingly used incorrect information to downgrade its patient safety grade from an A to a C.

In another recent case, two free-standing emergency care units filed a pre-suit deposition demanding that Google reveal the identities of 22 anonymous reviewers that they believe are people they did not treat.

In many industries, there can be no doubt that online review platforms have revolutionized the interaction between service and customer. Through these reviews, the consumer has been given a voice, and can better gauge product and service quality before purchase. This has increased competition and improved standards of service.

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PatientPop claims that online reviews are the new word-of-mouth in today’s healthcare consumerism, and that review platforms will drive improvements in the customer experience and quality of healthcare. When closer inspection of these platforms leads to questions about the validity of online reviews, GlobalData believes that subjecting healthcare professionals, who operate under their own name as a brand, to the same level of scrutiny that is given to large corporations will ultimately weaken the healthcare industry at the patient level, leading to poorer outcomes and quality of life.

For more insight and data, visit the GlobalData Report Store – Verdict Hospital is part of GlobalData Plc.