Do you know if your hospital has a good reputation? Yelp can tell you if you are curious, and growing numbers of health care consumers are looking. That has created both a problem and an opportunity for hospitals.\nTo begin with, let\u2019s establish a framework of information. Patient experience is critical in a number of ways. For starters, happier patients are typically healthier, as a report published in Academic Medicine found. So hospitals care about delivering high quality care and helping the recipient of that care to feel good about the process.\nBut there are compelling business reasons for hospitals to care about the issue as well. Hospitals can be penalized on their Medicare payments by as much as 2% for poor reviews from patients on a standardized exit survey. That can reflect a substantial sum of money to a hospital, as do the Medicare bonuses if they achieve high scores on those reviews.\nHospitals also have to face the music in the age of the internet where consumers have unprecedented power in guiding other consumers to make informed decisions. In the healthcare space, that translates beyond review sites like Yelp to forums and medical-specific sites dedicated to ranking doctors, hospitals, and other medical services.\n\u201cHealthcare providers understand that patients are customers, and customers can take their business elsewhere if they are unhappy about any aspect of their experience,\u201d explains HealthLeaders Media. \u201cTo keep patients, and thus reimbursement, coming in the door, hospitals must focus on achieving strong patient satisfaction scores.\u201d\nA study published in the Journal of American Medicine found that 59% of patients viewed physician rating sites as \u201csomewhat\u201d or \u201cvery\u201d important, while 37% said they avoided physicians who were ranked poorly.\n\u201cWe live in a very connected world, and today consumers have platforms to express their pleasure and displeasure like never before,\u201d says Senem Guney, PhD, CPXP, and the Chief Experience Officer at NarrativeDx. \u201cThere are certainly places like Yelp or RateMDs.com, but there are also online forums and social networks where people share their stories. Bad reviews from patients can do significant damage to a hospital\u2019s bottom line.\u201d\nThis is not necessarily a bad influence. The Manhattan Institute recently found a strong correlation between hospital ratings on Yelp and actual quality. Preventable readmissions were lower for highly ranked hospitals, suggesting a higher standard of care. Consumers who follow these reviews are arguably justified in doing so, and hospitals are scrambling to respond.\n\u201cThe bold entrance of online consumer companies like Yelp and others into the healthcare sphere has made it clear that public reviews of physicians\u2019 performance are unavoidable and inevitable,\u201d writes Vivian Lee, M.D., CEO of University of Utah Health Care, in STAT News. \u201cRather than lament this trend, physicians and healthcare systems should welcome the opinions of our patients, learn from them, and share them with the public.\u201d\nAccessing and aggregating that data in an intelligent way requires sophisticated applications of artificial intelligence (A.I.) and natural language processing (N.L.P.).\nGuney explains that online reviews first must be assessed by a language processing program that captures relevant phrases, processes the text, and establishes relevance. That information is then aggregated and analyzed to determine which patterns and themes are most important. In other words, it could notice a lot of reviews talking about wait times, but recognize that they are in fact positive, praising the hospital for being responsive. It would also recognize whether comments about bedside manner or cleanliness were intended positively or negatively.\nInformation capture can be automated in this way, preventing human error and maximizing output. Until this technology became available, hospitals relied on exit surveys with limited scope and little valuable information.\n\u201cEvery industry has made a significant effort to improve customer experience in the last 10 years, healthcare has just been slow to receive the same kind of innovation,\u201d Guney says. \u201cBut today, entrepreneurs are leveraging cutting edge technologies to modernize how hospitals manicure patient experience. The outcome is a significant competitive advantage for those hospitals that integrate it.\u201d\nA.I. can impact your next hospital stay, but it does not relieve consumers of the burden of expressing their thoughts on review sites and forums. At least now we know it might make a difference.