Yelp (YELP) recently announced a partnership that will expand its hospital maternity care rating service. In collaboration with the Northeast Business Group on Health, Yelp will begin to rate the quality of maternity care at some 50 hospitals in New York. This move will expand Yelp’s maternity care rating service, which it has been operating in California in partnership with the California Health Care Foundation.
Yelp believes that rating hospital maternity care will help expecting parents to make an informed decision about where they want their baby delivered. The company also hopes the rating will encourage hospitals to improve the quality of their maternity care.
At the end of the day, Yelp hopes that expanding its maternity care rating service will make its review site more valuable to users. Yelp mostly makes money from its review platform by providing advertising services. The company’s advertising revenue increased 6.0% YoY to $227 million in the first quarter. Advertising revenue rose 26% YoY at Facebook (FB), 18% YoY at Twitter (TWTR), and 15.4% YoY at Google (GOOGL) in the first quarter.
Yelp is expanding its hospital maternity care rating service at a time when it is expected to face increased competition for women’s attention and advertising dollars after Pinterest (PINS) went public. Pinterest, which says two-thirds of its audience is female, used its IPO last month to raise $1.4 billion in additional cash that it could spend toward to compete against rivals such as Yelp.
Today Yelp will start displaying information about the quality of maternity care at about 50 hospitals in New York City and Long Island through a partnership with the Northeast Business Group on Health.
The Yelp pages for hospitals will indicate whether the facilities are above average, average or below average in their rates of Cesarean-section deliveries in low-risk pregnancies, newborns being fed only breast milk before discharge, the administering of an episiotomy and vaginal births among women who've had a previous C-section.
Maternal health experts have found that lower rates of C-sections and episiotomies and higher rates of breastfeeding before discharge and vaginal births for women who previously had C-sections are tied to better health outcomes.
The data come from expectny.com, a project of the Northeast Business Group on Health, which provides maternity-care statistics from New York state and patient-safety organization Leapfrog Group. Its work was supported by a grant from the New York State Health Foundation.
The Northeast Business Group on Health, an employer coalition focused on health benefits, linked up with Yelp to gain exposure for the maternal health data it has collected, said Candice Sherman, the business group's CEO. The ratings include a link to expectny.com where users can get more information about why it has rated hospitals on these measures.
"We know that consumers turn to Yelp for information on all manner of services," Sherman said. "Why would health care be any different? It's one of those situations where you go where the people go."
While hospital Yelp pages typically are full of anecdotes about rude doctors and nurses, long wait times and expensive bills, the website has worked to make more data available to users. It has partnered with ProPublica since 2015 to add information from medicare.gov on average ER wait times, communication with doctors and noise levels in rooms.
A spokeswoman for Yelp wrote in a post explaining the new measures that the website "exists to empower and protect consumers."
"By displaying useful maternity care metrics on Yelp, we hope to educate would-be patients about hospitals where they can receive higher-quality care and to encourage hospitals to improve the quality of care they provide," the spokeswoman wrote.
Yelp previously has worked with the California Health Care Foundation to share maternal health outcomes.
There's evidence that using Yelp to find a high-performing hospital isn't an outlandish idea. A 2017 report from researchers at the Manhattan Institute found Yelp ratings were correlated with better-quality hospitals in New York state. In the analysis, hospitals with lower rates of avoidable readmission were considered higher quality.
"We do not argue that Yelp alone is, or can be, the only guide to quality hospitals," wrote the report's authors, Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman. "However, when people can choose where they will obtain care—as do patients with traditional Medicare coverage for elective or planned surgeries—or when consumers can choose among insurance options, Yelp ratings can provide a helpful guide."
Sherman said she doesn't expect the ratings to change how women choose where to give birth, but she believes it could spark conversations about whether a particular procedure related to childbirth is necessary.
"It's a place to start," she said. —Jonathan LaMantia
We’ve all scanned Yelp when we’re trying to pick a restaurant or a hotel, but it probably hasn’t occurred to you to rely on the crowd-sourced review forum when it’s time to make the important decision of the best hospital to deliver a baby. But starting today, Yelp has added maternity care metrics — starting with hospitals that deliver babies in New York City and Long Island. But let’s ask the tough question: Plenty of us barely trust Yelp reviews to tell us where to get a good hamburger; would you trust them to choose where you give birth?
This new Yelp development comes from a partnership with Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) and their hospital rating site ExpectNY. Unsurprisingly, childbirth is the number one reason for hospitalizations in America and the quality of hospitals varies dramatically.
Aggregate health data can help organizations understand big picture trends, but if this data could easily be used against an employee, is that trade-off worth it?
In general, large organizations have more resources and opportunities to offer richer caregiving benefits, like leave time, but small- and medium-sized employers can get creative, said Candice Sherman, CEO of the Northeast Business Group on Health.
Even the smallest employers, she said, can do things like provide a list of nonprofits that offer services caregivers could take advantage of, she said. Also, many communities have community organizations, religiously affiliated or otherwise, that may offer relevant services.
“The more recognition there is about the fact that in any employee workforce, there are caregivers in our midst, I think employers will definitely get more creative and expansive in terms of the kinds of things they think about offering,” Sherman said.
The amount of caregiving-focused technology available to employers has grown significantly over the last three years as more players bring apps to market, says Mark Cunningham-Hill, medical director of the Northeast Business Group on Health.
As the caregiving technology space becomes more competitive, employers are faced with difficult choices when selecting the right provider for the benefit. Save for doing their own research and approaching each individual vendor, there aren’t many ways for employers to learn what’s available, he adds.
NEBGH and AARP released a guide last year for employers to follow when selecting caregiving tech for their workers. The guide lists 24 available apps with information on their user base, privacy standards and digital features. It also includes tips for selecting a best fit, like looking for a platform that also has a human supported component, either in the form of a tech coach or care coordinator.
“A lot of employers don’t know about [caregiving technologies], and the first time they hear about it is when they get a call from a vendor and they don’t know where to go,” Cunningham-Hill says. “This guide gives them the place so if any vendor comes up, at least they have a reference point.”
Another online tool, ExpectNY, developed by the Northeast Business Group on Health, provides information on quality measures related to maternity and newborn care, enabling expectant parents in New York City and Long Island to compare hospitals and make informed choices about where to deliver a baby. Imagine if we could link that easy-to-use quality information — color-coded bar charts accompanied by images showing clearly how a hospital performs on a given measure — with meaningful, understandable price information. That could make a real difference for consumers who are seeking the highest-value care.
Many employers claim to be all-in when it comes to supporting employees who provide care for aging or ailing family members. Now, a boost from digital technology is poised to give those workers even more support.
One survey of employers, for instance, found nearly nine in 10 were interested in providing digital caregiving-support tools and services to employees. So it’s good news for employers that the Northeast Business Group on Health and AARP have teamed up to launch an online resource titled “Digital Tools and Solutions for Caregivers: An Employer’s Guide” to help HR and benefits leaders support the projected millions of employees who also are family caregivers.
Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) and AARP released a new tech-based guide to help benefits experts and HR leaders support a growing number of employee caregivers. According to AARP, 24 million caregiver families are balancing work and home responsibilities.
The guide presents lists of available tools, including digital platforms for connecting caregivers to other caregivers and to people with similar diagnoses; monitoring tools for in-home patients; and health management tools. The guide also shows employers how to develop a digital-tools program and includes sections on common caregiver challenges and advice on assessing the value added to organizations offering digital platforms.
Aging baby boomers, longer life spans and seniors opting to age in place are creating an unprecedented need for caregivers, including untrained family members.
To help them, the state and Northeast Business Group on Health have developed new resources for caregivers and their employers, respectively.
On Wednesday, the state Health Department rolled out a New York State Caregiver Guide during a ceremony at the Carter Burden Gallery in Manhattan. At least 1,000 copies of the book, which the state's health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, called an early holiday gift to caregivers, will be distributed by seven organizations across the state.
About 3 million caregivers provide more than 2.6 billion hours of care to loved ones each year in New York, Zucker said in his remarks. The economic value of that care is $32 billion, according to the state figures.
"Our goal is to help caregivers in New York state, so that they can continue to do what they have done all along," Zucker said. The care they provide is a "labor of love," he said.
The caregiver guide includes information about care-team selection, legal and financial issues, and communication with health professionals, Zucker said. It provides resources for caregivers to make sure their own needs are being met. It was published with the support of the New York State Health Foundation in collaboration with the AARP foundation.
Also this week, NEBGH and AARP launched Digital Tools and Solutions for Caregivers: An Employers Guide, for human resources and benefits leaders to use in supporting employees who are caregivers.
NEBGH said a past survey found 9 in 10 employers were interested in providing online caregiving resources to their employees.
Employers are increasingly aware that caregiving is an issue that affects their workforce, said Candice Sherman, CEO of NEBGH, and they are seeking ways to support their workers.
"The result of that is enhanced productivity, decreased absenteeism, better morale, and also better health and mental health as well as a better family life for those employees who are affected in this way," she said. —Jennifer Henderson