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Ratings game: an analysis of Nursing Home Compare and Yelp ratings

Abstract

Background Two strategies for rating the quality of nursing homes (NHs) in the USA are exemplified by the Nursing Home Compare (NHC) website, launched by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 1998, and Yelp.com, an online consumer review site that has grown in popularity since its founding in 2004. Both sites feature a 5-star rating system. While much is known about NHC ratings, little is known about NH Yelp ratings. This study examines Yelp ratings for NHs in California and compares these ratings with NHC ratings. Understanding how these ratings relate can inform efforts to empower consumers and enhance NH decision-making.

Methods We collected NHC and Yelp ratings for all California NHs between September and November 2016. For each NH with a Yelp review, we recorded the star rating and the total number of reviews. We also recorded the NHC 5-star rating and NHC ratings for inspections, staffing and quality measures (QMs). We conducted descriptive statistics and frequencies for these variables. We conducted correlations and tested means to compare the ratings.

Results A total of 675 NHs (68.1% of the total sample of 991 NHs) had both Yelp ratings and NHC ratings. Correlations between the Yelp and NHC ratings were relatively weak. The Yelp rating was significantly lower than the 5-star NHC rating and the NHC ratings for staffing and QMs. It was significantly higher than the NHC inspection rating.

Conclusions This study found that when consumers rate NHs on Yelp, their ratings differ considerably from NHC ratings, a finding in keeping with similar studies of NH quality measurement. Further research is needed to analyse the content of Yelp reviews and compare the themes and topics consumers identify with those reported on NHC.

  • healthcare quality improvement
  • nursing homes
  • patient-centred care
  • patient satisfaction

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