NEW YORK – Indian American doctor Ish Singla, a Springfield Clinic interventional cardiologist and his wife Deepali Singla have launched a website to give patients all over the world a way to post and read reviews of hospitals, doctors and health insurance companies; called HealthSoul.com.
Deepali came up with the initial idea of the website during her high-risk pregnancy for their now 1-year-old twin boys.
Already parents of 9-year-old and 4-year-old daughters, the Singlas looked online for consumer reviews of local hospitals and doctors but found little information, a State Journal Register report said, but were eventually happy with their selection of a Springfield Clinic obstetrician and HSHS St. John’s Hospital, where the twins, born 12 weeks premature, spent two months in the neonatal intensive-care unit.
Costing about $100,000 to develop so far, the website has been used by approximately 70 people, mainly co-workers and friends in the United States and overseas. Ish hopes they will get more through online marketing as he wants HealthSoul to be a more comprehensive and in-depth website for health care consumers than Yelp and HealthGrades.com.
According to a 2016 article in the American Bar Association Journal, a 2015 survey by the market research company Mintel Group Ltd. found that 54 percent of respondents said online reviews influenced their purchases.
“Credibility of those reviews is vital to keep the marketplaces humming and consumers returning again and again. But too much of a good thing can raise eyebrows. The Mintel survey showed that 57 percent of consumers were suspicious of companies with only positive reviews,” the article said.
Singla said the revenue for the website, which is free for consumers and health care providers will be generated by advertising and fees that doctors’ offices can pay to be able to seek requests for patient appointments through the site.
The website has many features including:
- Providers can also publicize their star ratings from HealthSoul for free and the packages that they can purchase will allow them access to additional features on the site as well as the use of positive comments on their own websites.
- Doctors, hospitals and insurance companies will be able to sign up for free accounts and respond to consumer reviews, but they won’t be able to block or alter them
- Also, patients who want to post on the site can sign up and create their own user IDs along with having the option of remaining anonymous.
- Software on the site can detect when users are posting multiple reviews as a form of harassment or when they may be posting fake reviews and those reviews can be taken down as well as blocked.
- The site uses a five-star rating system and asks reviewers to rate hospitals in five categories: overall satisfaction, care by doctors, care by nurses, hospital cleanliness and hospital food services.
- Doctors will be rated on categories such as inpatient care, outpatient care, explanations of diagnoses, trust, ease of scheduling appointments and wait times.
- Insurance companies will be rated on factors such as customer service, cost satisfaction and claims processing.
- Patients can post questions to the site that can be answered by other users and health care providers.
- Patients who are “users” on the site can learn from other users while hospitals and insurance companies, who are “providers” on the site will be given “a way to improve patient experience by providing timely feedback.”
Singla said HealthSoul will eventually incorporate such health care performance data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Singla also noted that hospitals that get high marks for patient experiences tend to have better results for “patient outcomes” and that patient satisfaction scores posted by the government are limited in their usefulness because not all patients are surveyed.
Ish went to medical school in India before he came to the United States for training in internal medicine and cardiology and has been at Springfield Clinic for four years while Deepali holds a master’s in business administration.