Online Reviews Provide Insight into Consumer Satisfaction: The Hearing Journal
Consumer satisfaction is one of the key concepts in healthcare and refers to the satisfaction of our consumers with the healthcare services they receive. The declared satisfaction is also an indicator of the quality of care, in particular as perceived by end users. The growth and increasing popularity of online review platforms, including Google or Yelp, means that consumers can now easily share their experiences with a wider audience, allowing them to evaluate potential services and reported results.
A recent systematic review demonstrated consistent positive associations between online patient reviews and healthcare organizations and individual provider outcomes. 1 Because online review platforms contain unsolicited reviews provided voluntarily, they also provide unique insight into the consumer’s journey and factors associated with consumer satisfaction. In particular, the consumer-centered perspective offered by online reviews of personal experiences and perceived outcomes in health services has significant potential to inform more person-centered care. 2.3
Online reviews typically include some sort of rating (for example, a rating on a five-point scale with a five-star rating indicating highest satisfaction) and open-text descriptions to describe their experiences and support the selected rating. . In the digital age, it has become important for any business, including the healthcare industry, to heed these notices. Despite the use of reviews by individual companies, very limited efforts have been made to analyze and understand reviews about a specialty or healthcare industry using large-scale review analysis. This is in part due to the difficulty of extracting and summarizing meaningful concepts from large sets of textual feedback data. Fortunately, there have been huge advances in software technologies that specialize in analyzing large textual data called natural language processing (NLP).
The field of NLP is a rapidly growing field of data science and uses digital technologies, as a branch of artificial intelligence, to understand text and spoken words in a manner similar to human beings. 4 It is widely implemented in everyday technologies such as chatbots, autocorrect and autocomplete features, language translators, and social media monitoring features. NLP also has great potential to quickly review a large number of consumer reviews in order to extract meaningful information. 2.5.6 In a recent study, we pulled 9,622 consumer reviews of hearing health services from 40 cities across the United States on Google.com and analyzed them using NLP techniques. 6.7 This included identifying key topics and linguistic dimensions of text reviews, as well as examining their association with quantitative satisfaction ratings. The following is a summary of the main findings as well as implications for clinical hearing health practice.
CONSUMER SATISFACTION WITH HEARING HEALTH
Consumer reviews on Google.com for hearing care professionals were rated on a five-point Likert scale ranging from “very poor” to “very good”. The majority of reviews (95%) were “very good” and “good”, suggesting that hearing healthcare consumers reporting online experiences are generally satisfied with their services.
THE MAIN THEMES
The text reviews associated with the ratings were analyzed using the “thematic modeling” approach. Thematic modeling is a general term within NLP in which automated analysis of textual data is performed to identify significant themes in the data. This approach provides information comparable to qualitative analysis, such as content analysis or thematic analysis, although it has the advantage of processing a large amount of text in a matter of minutes. Thematic modeling of consumer reviews of hearing healthcare services resulted in seven clusters (themes) in two areas (Table 1). Six of the groups generally had positive reports, with the exception of the “administration process” group. Negative experiences reported in the business process group had more influence on the overall rating, suggesting that consumers were more inclined to provide lower overall experience ratings when they had issues with the business process. .
The text reviews were also subjected to an automated linguistic survey word count (LIWC). This method examines each of the words and assigns them a psychologically significant dimension. For example, the word “happy” can indicate positive emotions, while the word “cry” can indicate sadness or negative emotions. While the software provides results in over 90 dimensions of psychological language, in this study 10 key dimensions were considered. 7 Consumer reviews of hearing health services exhibited higher social processes, positive emotions, hearing, health, money and work, and lower negative emotions and time awareness compared to typical bloggers . 7
In addition, examining the association between overall satisfaction ratings and linguistic dimensions brings out two general conclusions:
- Better ratings of experiences were linked to higher consumer engagement in dimensions of social processes, positive emotions, hearing and work.
- Lower ratings of experiences were linked to higher consumer engagement in negative emotions, time awareness and money.
To better understand, interpret and apply LIWC analyzes in the context of hearing healthcare, we are developing a personalized dictionary based on the experiences of hearing impaired patients. This project is part of a larger research initiative of the new Virtual Hearing Lab (wwww.virtualhearinglab.org).
Consumer satisfaction is now an integral part of the delivery, use and reimbursement of health care. For example, many health insurance providers only reimburse for services when patient (or consumer) satisfaction reaches the desired level. In addition, many consumers tend to use reports from other consumers, including through online reviews, when making decisions about their health products and / or services. For this reason, it is very important to review consumer reviews to improve consumer satisfaction. This is particularly important for audiology with the move towards direct-to-consumer hearing care and the new over-the-counter hearing aid regulation. These analyzes can inform more person-centered care and strengthen the value proposition of audiologists as hearing health professionals.
Online reviews offer a quick way to understand health care consumer satisfaction and the contributing factors that enable providers to address potential issues to improve quality of care and health care outcomes. For example, a review of Google reviews suggests that improving the process for administering hearing health services and front office engagements is an important strategy for improving overall consumer satisfaction rates.
Although online reviews offer a lot of potential, this is still a relatively new area of investigation that requires further exploration of appropriate techniques that are clinically appropriate and include measures of quality. 8