Objective: The aim of the study was to examine experiences of hearing healthcare services as described in online consumer reviews.
Design: The study used a cross-sectional design. Online consumer reviews about hearing healthcare services generated from Google.com to an open-ended question “Share details of your own experience at this place” and perceived overall experience (indicated on a 5-point rating scale: “very good” to “very poor”) were extracted from 40 different cities across the U.S. The open text contributed a text-corpus of 9,622 unique consumer reviews. These responses were analyzed with the cluster analysis approach using an open source automated text analysis software, IRaMuTeQ, to identify key themes. Association between clusters and consumer experience ratings as well as consumer meta-data (percentage of older adults in the city, region) were examined using the chi square analysis.
Results: The majority of consumers appeared satisfied with their hearing healthcare services, with nearly 95% of consumers reporting “very good” and “good” on the global experience scale. The analysis of text responses resulted in seven clusters within two domains. Domain One (Clinical Processes) included the three clusters: Administration processes; Perceived benefits; and Device acquisition. Domain Two (Staff and Service Interactions) included the four clusters: Clinician communications; Staff professionalism; Customer service; and Provider satisfaction. Content relating to administration processes was associated with overall rating regarding the hearing healthcare service experience. Consumer’s reviews relating to administration processes mostly described negative experiences, and these participants were more inclined to provide poorer overall experience ratings. In addition, city characteristics (i.e., percentage of older adults, region) had bearing towards what elements of hearing healthcare services are highlighted more in the consumer reviews.
Conclusions: Consumers comment on a variety of elements when describing their experiences with hearing healthcare services. Experiences reported in most clusters were generally positive, although some concerns in the “clinical process” are associated with lower satisfaction. Employing patient-centered strategies and ensuring patients have good experiences in the areas of concern may help improve both patient experience and their satisfaction.