"Which hospital has the best birth outcomes?"
"I don't know, but if you wait a minute I can look it up on Yelp and let you know."
Since July 2017, the residents of California who are preparing to give birth in that state can now use the online review platform Yelp to find both a great lunch spot and learn more about birth outcomes at their local hospitals. In a partnership with the California Health Care Foundation and Cal Hospital Compare, information on over 250 hospitals in the state that delivers babies are now available simply by opening an already familiar consumer website. Currently, this information is available on the Yelp website but the mobile app version is expected to be launched any day now.
Yelp had already been sharing hospital data of interest to consumers through another partner, and now maternity care information will be available as well. California is the most populated state in the nation. One in eight babies in the country is born in California.
According to research, the best predictor of who will give birth by cesarean is the facility that they choose to give birth at. The state of California has hospitals with extremely low cesarean rates, (some as low as 10%) and other hospitals in the same city with cesarean rates of 70%, and these hospitals are often serving the same populations. Provider practices and hospital policies have the greatest impact on the birth outcomes for an individual person.
Now, when looking up a California hospital on Yelp, a consumer will be able to find the following obstetrical metrics:
- NTSV cesarean-section rate – nulliparous, term, singleton, vertex person who a gives birth by cesarean at the facility
- Breastfeeding rate – The percentage of newborns exclusively fed only breastmilk before discharge from the facility
- Episiotomy rate – How often episiotomies are performed at the facility
- VBAC Routinely Availability – Some hospitals do not routinely provide vaginal births after cesarean sections (“VBACs”)
- VBAC Rate – How often vaginal births among people with a prior cesarean section occur at this facility if they routinely provide them (see above)
Once finding the facility on Yelp, the consumer can click to the Cal Hospital Compare link for more information about the metrics. These metrics will be updated twice a year on Yelp. Currently, this information is available on the Yelp website but the mobile app version is expected to be launched any day now.
I believe this is a simple yet brilliant idea. Informed consumers can make better decisions about where to give birth and with whom when they have access to this information. Millenials, the birthing people of today, are already amazingly adept at using Yelp and other similar apps to research local options and gather information. What a genius idea to make this critical info on L&D units and providers accessible through this same method.
I would love to see this spread throughout the United States, Canada and other cities around the world that are already plugged into the Yelp database. Consumers can only benefit from having this information easily accessible and in plain language for the expectant family. Only then can people make appropriate choices about the right birth location and provider for them. Information such as this is already available in many places but it is certainly not consumer friendly, easy to find or well advertised. This Yelp method could really shake things up. There are plans to expand this roll-out beyond California as Yelp sets up cooperative information sharing agreements with agencies in other locations.