Empowering Health Care Consumers

Project Title

Yelp for Health: Does the Wisdom of Crowds Match Up with Objective Quality Data?

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Empowering Health Care Consumers

Date Awarded

June 29, 2016









Consumers and patients seek various sources of information to evaluate the quality of a health care provider and inform their health care decisions. Patients typically turn to the internet for such information, often going to sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, and ZocDoc.

These reviews increasingly form consumers’ first impressions, affect their decisions, and cover topics not traditionally captured in clinical data but which inform the patient’s health care experience, such as ease in getting requests met or the quality of treatment by frontline staff. Although these reviews are subjective, informal, and subject to gaming, they are gaining attention as alternatives to scientifically rigorous measures. At the same time, objective hospital quality metrics and survey tools are often expensive to deploy and have low response rates, and there may be significant delays between hospitalization and public reporting of results. In 2016, NYHealth awarded a grant to Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (Manhattan Institute) to examine if the content of social media reviews of hospitals is matching up with objective hospital quality measures.

Under this grant, Manhattan Institute assessed whether patient-generated website reviews and ratings on social media platforms correlate with objective data from the largest hospitals in New York State. Manhattan Institute also examined the reasons for why comparisons may not match up; identified new tools to help social media platforms become more reliable and effective; and considered if any topics in social media reviews should be incorporated into the more objective quality data reporting. Based on its findings, Manhattan Institute developed policy recommendations and produced a report that was released at a public event in New York City. This event highlighted the issues discussed in the report and convened various stakeholders, such as representatives from online rating platforms, State hospitals, and the physician community. To further disseminate the findings, Manhattan Institute staff published Op-Eds in leading media outlets, both State-specific and national, that reach consumers.

Read the report, “Yelp for Health: Using the Wisdom of Crowds to Find High-Quality Hospitals.”