Yelp reviews reveal that emergency departments are viewed as being higher quality but lacking in service as compared to urgent care centers, which patients rate the opposite, according to a new study from researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The study results, published this month in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, provide a unique opportunity for researchers and clinicians to learn from online reviews, which provide a raw narrative from consumers. In this new study, researchers, with the help of an automated system, analyzed high (five-star) and low (one-star) Yelp reviews for both emergency departments and urgent care centers, two venues that patients can select from when in need of acute care. Researchers identified key themes in the five-star reviews of emergency departments, including bedside manner, treatment of family members, and access to care on nights and weekends. Urgent care centers were unique in receiving five-star reviews more often for factors including ease of refilling prescriptions and being positively recommended by others. On the other side, emergency departments received negative remarks for speed of care, while urgent care centers received one-star reviews as a result of poor reception experiences and patients lacking confidence in the care received.
The researchers analyzed more than 100,000 Yelp reviews, posted between 2005 and 2017—in the midst of the urgent care boom—tied to 1,566 emergency departments and 5,601 from urgent care centers. During the study period, an average of one new review for an emergency department or an urgent care center appeared every hour of every day.