Yelp to List Maternity Care Metrics on Hospital Pages
May 8, 2019
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