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How Yelp Reviews Impact Recovery Facilities

We often think of the website Yelp for reviews on restaurants or even retail businesses. But can it also be an accurate judge of whether or not a recovery facility is effective? The truth is, more and more people are turning to it for these types of ratings; which prompted an interesting opinion piece in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have also explored the phenomenon of online ratings systems within the recovery field. In fact, they are currently in the midst of generating a research report on the subject. Anish Agarwal, a Penn professor who happens to be contributing to the report, spoke about Yelp’s impact with The Inquirer.

“Five or 10 years ago, when I thought of Yelp, or Google ratings, I thought of restaurants and maybe stores,” Agarwal explained on the Inquirer website. “Turns out, there’s a lot of people talking on these platforms about their health-care experience. This is another way to capture patient voices.”

For his research, Agarwal also dug into Google Reviews and the star system the famous search engine has in place when it comes to local businesses. Compiling comments and star counts for a variety of local treatment facilities, they saw legitimate sentiment measurements that did seem to be genuine.

One area that was focused on closely was the actual comments. Some come anonymously, others supposedly come from real people who have been through programs. Of course, there are many that feel biased or disingenuous; but secondary Penn researcher Raina Merchant praised a good deal of what she saw.

“We use online reviews for just about everything that we purchase, or places that we go,” Merchant added when discussing the study. “We thought it would be important to look at those reviews [on addiction treatment facilities] to understand what matters most for patients and their family members.”

Within their local Pennsylvania set, the Yelp and Google reviews for local treatment centers were, for the most part, positive. They found that 43 percent of all facilities rated earned the maximum of five stars.

We too have found validity on the Yelp ratings that Valley Recovery Center has received. Though not a ton of people have left reviews (which is completely understandable when you consider anonymity), the 9 who did all rated us five stars.

Agarwal did re-emphasize the value of these sites when making his concluding statement to The Inquirer.

“There’s a lot of rich data out there — people are posting about their health care on Yelp and Google, and there’s really rich information on what people say,” he said. “In an era where we rate everything, this is out there. Let’s lean into it and use it.”