Yelp, California Health Care Foundation form partnership to improve maternity care

By Jeff Lagasse

More than 500,000 births occur each year in the state of California, but deciding where to get care can often be a difficult process for consumers. That’s where a new partnership between Yelp and the California Health Care Foundation comes in.
Thanks to the partnership, maternity care measures are now being displayed for the roughly 250 hospitals that deliver babies in the state. These measures have the potential to be seen by millions of people who turn to Yelp in their daily life to help them make these types of decisions.
The data for the measures comes from, a hospital quality website founded by CHCF and operated by Cal Hospital Compare, a multistakeholder nonprofit organization.
Among the measures that are displayed on Yelp pages are the percentage of cesarean section deliveries in low-risk pregnancies to mothers having their first baby. Consumers can also check on a facility’s percentage of newborns fed only breast milk before discharge; how often episiotomies are performed; the availability of vaginal births after c-sections; and how often vaginal births among women with a prior c-section occur at a given hospital, or if it routinely provides them at all.
For its part, CHCF has operated a couple of data-centric websites for some time now. But it lacked the accessibility and reach of a site like Yelp.
“Consumers don’t always flock to these kind of wonky websites that have lots of data on there,” said Stephanie Teleki, director of evaluation and impact at CHCF. “Consumers are already going to Yelp. We can marry the comments with the more empirical-based measures.”
In that way, the partnership represents a multi-pronged approach, which Teleki said is necessary to address such a complex issue.
“Poor maternity care is a multifaceted problem, and addressing it requires a multifaceted solution,” she said. “It involves having better data. … Bring about change, you have to have multiple pressure points. You have to align payments with better outcomes, and you need to help providers improve care. You need to have public policies that are supportive, you need to have a workforce -- in this case, midwives focusing less on intervention and more on vaginal birth. And of course, focusing on the patients."
“Yelp is really a megaphone for for the clinical quality measures,” she said. “Those are the more wonky kind of clinical things that a lot of patients can’t understand, so putting them side-by-side with the comments, hopefully we can acclimate consumers with looking at that kind of data -- really socialize the idea that they should be using this data.”
The project is part of a larger statewide effort to reduce the rate of unnecessary low-risk, first-birth C-sections at every hospital in the state to the national goal of 23.9 percent. CHCF is working with several organizations, including the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, Smart Care California, Pacific Business Group on Health, and the Hospital Quality Institute.
There are plans to launch a mobile module by the end of the year. The maternity care data presented on Yelp will be refreshed semiannually.