What do patients say about emergency departments in online reviews? A qualitative study

In BMJ Quality and Safety, Austin Kilaru and colleagues, including Zachary Meisel and Raina Merchant, seek to better understand how patients’ use of web-based tools to reflect on their health care experiences compares with in-patient surveys. They analyzed online reviews for U.S. emergency departments (EDs) posted on the consumer ratings website Yelp. The authors collected reviews describing experiences of ED care for a random sample of 100 U.S. hospitals. They analyzed the content of the reviews against themes from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems inpatient care survey. The Yelp reviews included comment on some of the areas assessed by the survey, including communication with nurses, communication with doctors, and pain control. They also included comment on themes specific to emergency care: waiting and efficiency, decisions to seek care in the ED, and events following discharge. The findings suggest that online reviews for EDs cover similar ground to survey-based assessments of inpatient hospital care as well as themes specific to emergency care. The authors suggest that web-based platforms may offer a novel strategy for assessing patient-centered quality in emergency care.