Online Reviews of Hospital Care

Gleaning insights about patient experience from Yelp reviews


Online rating websites like Yelp offer an opportunity for health care consumers to provide nuanced information about their experience. To date, more than 42,000 Yelp reviews describe the US hospital experience. 

Online reviews are unique in that they not only include feedback from patients, but also from caregivers, family, and friends who do not have a voice in traditional systems of evaluating care. Yelp allows consumers to provide insight into their experience in an unstructured fashion, unlike in preassigned surveys or questionnaires.  

We conducted a study exploring more than 16,000 Yelp reviews of US hospitals.  Leveraging a natural language processing technique called Latent Dirichlet Allocation, we analyzed the text of the reviews and identified underlying topics.

While Yelp reviews included information about seven of eleven domains covered in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), a standard patient experience survey, an additional twelve domains not captured in HCAHPS were found in Yelp reviews.

Based on this finding, we believe that Yelp reviews may provide a more nuanced view of the patient experience that consumers value in hospital care, and can potentially supplement data from the HCAHPS survey for improving patient satisfaction.

Our long-term goal is to create an online database of Yelp hospital reviews for providers, researchers, and staff to search and explore - a space for individuals to gain further insight into customer perspectives of the hospital experience. A searchable database of reviews may also lend insight into issues that arise across institutions.