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When Top-Ranked Hospitals Get Poor Marks from Patients

Some of America’s top-ranked hospitals get mediocre to poor marks from the judges who really…

  • February 11, 2018

Some of America’s top-ranked hospitals get mediocre to poor marks from the judges who really count – patients.

This according to U.S. News & World Report.

Of nearly 2,700 online reviews of the nation’s top-20 hospitals as ranked by  USN&WR, almost two out of three reviewers give the facilities a mediocre to poor rating on the social media website Yelp.com, according to an analysis by Vanguard Communications & Healthcare Process Improvement.

Each year the online magazine names 20 hospitals for outstanding clinical outcomes in 16 areas of complex specialty care.

Meanwhile, from another perspective, an analysis by Vanguard found that 62.7 percent of Yelp reviewers rate the latest ranked top institutions at only one to three stars out of five possible.

The 20 hospitals combined earned an average rating of 3.2 out of 5 stars.

USN&WR published its latest rankings in August based on the best clinical performances of hospitals nationwide.

Social Media – Where People Go to Complain

However, on social media, patients tend to discuss customer service far more often.

According to Vanguard’s evaluation of 2,679 reviews of the top 20, nearly nine in 10 (84 percent) complaints cited non-clinical service issues as the main source of their dissatisfaction, ranging from chronic billing problems, to poor phone and follow-up communications, to wait times of one to four hours or more to see a doctor.

Ironically, most online healthcare reviewers who complain about customer service wind up praising their doctors and typically appear satisfied with quality of medical care, said Ron Harman King, Vanguard CEO.

“Each year U.S. News & World Report performs a great public service by evaluating hospitals in areas that are least transparent and accessible to healthcare consumers,” King said. “We thought it would be interesting to learn more about what patients thought.”

King continued, “Our findings suggest they focus their online comments more on non-medical matters such as how many rings or pushed buttons it takes to get a live person on the phone and the availability of parking for a doctor’s appointment. This is understandable given the greater transparency of quality of those services.”

Vanguard’s prior social media research found patients freely express gratitude for doctors’ individual performances. A 2016 Vanguard analysis of 34,748 online healthcare reviews showed that two out of three American patients (66 percent) give doctors either four or five stars on social media.

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