By: Keiana Hastings
When it comes to choosing a restaurant for date night or the best place to buy flowers, Yelp has long been America’s go-to. When it comes to choosing a doctor, not as much. Yelp is hoping to change that.
In 2004, Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons founded Yelp. When Stoppelman had become ill and couldn’t find useful information about doctors online, he realized that the best way to find a doctor was by word-of-mouth. Yelp was born. Yelp is now going back to its roots. On August 5 Yelp announced a partnership with ProPublica, an independent, non-profit investigative journalism outlet, to provide consumers with a deeper look into the healthcare realm.
The partnership will combine data from Medicare surveys, ProPublica’s own research and Yelp reviews. With this new data, consumers will have access to a plethora of health-care data in one convenient location. The new site will showcase emergency room wait times in hospitals, fines paid by nursing homes and readmission to dialysis centers due to treatment related-infections, among other things. Yelp executives are aiming to provide consumers with information that would otherwise be kept in hard-to-find government PDFs.
Choosing the right doctor or nursing home is a critical decision for most people, as they are essentially putting their lives into the doctor’s hands. It’s a wonder that only six percent of businesses reviewed on Yelp are in the healthcare category. With this new information, this number is expected to grow. According to ProPublica, doctors earn a lower proportion of five-star reviews than other health professionals. Many times this is caused by long wait times, but too often, doctors are labeled as “rude” or “uncaring,” two terms that most wouldn’t want associated with their potential healthcare provider.
With this new information addition, Yelp is hoping to take the guess work out of choosing the right doctor by providing patients with more insight. Patients do look at online reviews and are more likely to believe other patients’ reviews than print media. This reiterates the importance of maintaining a positive image online and providing good customer service.