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Op-Ed: Reputation Healthcare Report Examines the Patient Experience

The U.S. healthcare industry has gone through massive transformation since the  coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. With so much change, many healthcare providers and payers are wondering how consumers think and feel about their care experiences. The 2022 Healthcare Reputation Report took a closer look. We uncovered both good news and bad news for healthcare CX leaders.

What We Found

The Reputation Data Science team analyzed 2.8 million patient reviews across 179,073 U.S. physician and hospital locations. We took a comprehensive look across the vast amount of patient feedback being left publicly on social media, Google Business Profiles, and other sites. We used natural language processing (NLP) to uncover patterns and key themes in patient reviews. 

Patients are leaving more reviews online and they have a lot to say about the care they receive. These ratings are important because 72% of consumers seek a care provider rated 4 out of 5 stars or higher. In 2021, reviews of healthcare facilities increased 50% for hospitals and 58% for physicians over 2020. 

  • Hospitals and other acute care locations achieved an average star of 4.4 out of 5 stars, a slight increase of 0.05 points over 2020.
  • Physicians received an average star rating of 4.7, which was a minor drop of 0.03 points from 2020. 

So, what are patients actually talking about? We took a closer look at the topics driving negative or positive sentiment across the entire patient experience, from scheduling an appointment to receiving a bill. We found that the bedside manner of doctors and nurses constituted the strongest driver of positive sentiment. But ratings of non-clinical staff were among the biggest drivers of negative sentiment.  

Patients have a strong personal connection to their care providers. When we dug deeper into the ratings, we noticed patients often mentioned specific physicians and nurses by name. Positive reviews typically highlighted a provider’s compassion, ability to communicate clearly, and listening skills. For example: 

  • “Dr. [Name] is the most caring, thorough, knowledgeable, responsive, proactive health care provider I’ve ever known.”
  • “Dr. [Name] always has taken the time to listen to me and my concerns and answers them in a way that I can understand without using terminology that I don’t understand. I never feel rushed at my appointments and I’m satisfied that my questions have been answered.”

Consumers enjoy their interactions with doctors and nurses, but they are disappointed by other aspects of the experience. Negative reviews of staff focused on lapses in follow-through on the administrative side of healthcare. Specific complaints discussed areas such as billing and a poor impression of intake staff, usually having to do with patients feeling like they were treated rudely. For example:

  • “The woman at the front desk didn’t even look up to say hello when I walked in.”
  • “They sent me a bill for the full amount even though I told them I had new insurance. Very frustrating.”

Improving Healthcare Experiences

Our findings show that healthcare CX leaders must draw from the playbook of successful consumer brands and deploy a robust Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. 

If you only analyze one feedback channel, you are not seeing a holistic view. In an analysis of large health systems, we found different themes surface from external data such as Facebook comments and Google reviews, compared to what is uncovered by patient satisfaction surveys. VoC offers a holistic view of the entire journey by bringing together all feedback channels.

Gathering data from a diverse set of sources will ensure you have the best opportunity to correct any areas in which your patient experience is lacking. The good news is there is no shortage of patient feedback data to be analyzed. For example, patient surveys, social media comments, and call center surveys are three separate channels that can offer a more complete picture when analyzed together. 

Bringing multiple sources of feedback data into a single hub enables healthcare providers and payers to understand the patient or member point of view — a strategy consumer brands have used for years. Only when we fully understand feedback, can we begin to deliver a better healthcare experience.

OP-ed Disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article by Annie Hafner Haarmann, head of healthcare strategy and consulting Reputation. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Annie Hafner Haarmann is Head of Healthcare Strategy and Consulting at Reputation and works with healthcare organizations to improve experience, drive quality and enable access. Previously, Annie led digital consumer experience for the nation’s leading health system and has held roles leading digital strategy in nonprofit healthcare, pharmaceuticals and bioscience.

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