Health IT

Where do consumer reviews fit into medical providers & product makers’ strategies?

In the absence of a Yelp or Tripadvisor kind of go-to site for ratings and reviews, the healthcare industry admittedly hasn’t seen the same kind of adoption of online consumer feedback. But the theory goes that as healthcare consumers are presented with more choices through insurance exchanges, and as care providers see patient satisfaction tethered […]

In the absence of a Yelp or Tripadvisor kind of go-to site for ratings and reviews, the healthcare industry admittedly hasn’t seen the same kind of adoption of online consumer feedback. But the theory goes that as healthcare consumers are presented with more choices through insurance exchanges, and as care providers see patient satisfaction tethered to Medicare payments, that kind of consumer feedback is going to become more frequent and important.

In “Scoring healthcare: Navigating customer experience ratings,” PwC’s Health Research Institute surveyed 1,000 people online and interviewed 25 health industry leaders to determine how the industry could make the most existing consumer feedback.

“Consumer feedback on whether or not they understand discharge instructions for example and whether or not they understand what medications they are on, are critically important for their outcomes,” Nancy Foster, vice president, Quality and Patient Safety Policy at the American Hospital Association told HRI. “There are things that patients can tell us that we can’t assess without them.”

While less than half of the survey’s respondents said they read healthcare reviews online, the majority of that group said they used what they found in their decision-making process. Half of respondents also said they want medical providers and product makers’ financial rewards to be tied to their feedback.

It’s clear that consumers want their voices hear, so PwC’s report offers some suggestions on how the healthcare industry can tap into this feedback:

Make it personal for the consumer. When patients seek reviews on physicians and health plans, they want to know what people like them have done. To provide information that’s sortable and useful for them, healthcare companies should combine consumer feedback with data on customer backgrounds and behaviors.

Recognize the important of quality ratings in areas where consumers have a lot of choices. As part of the Medicare Advantage program, for example, members can switch to a 5-star rated plan at any time if their current plan’s rating falls below five stars. PwC suggests that that practice could be adopted among commercial providers, giving insurers more reason to invest in meeting their customers’ needs.

Embrace the navigator role. These days, consumers need help with more than getting health coverage and figuring out billing, so customer service representatives and brokers aren’t going to cut it. Providers’ next challenge will be guiding patients throughout their healthcare experience. Meanwhile, navigators could also help providers understand where their customers need more help.

Combine experience data. The lack of standard metrics for evaluating customer satisfaction in regards to healthcare means there are more than a few tools, such as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers hospital survey, Medicare Quality Star ratings, Leapfrog Group ratings and sites like Health Grades. Using a variety of these measures can provide a more colorful pictures of areas for improvement.

[Image source: Pricewaterhouse Coopers]