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Role of Patient Sentiment Analysis during Pandemics

Role of Patient Sentiment Analysis during Pandemics
July 24, 2020

What is Patient Sentiment Analysis

Patient Sentiment Analysis is a text analytics or data mining process that is used to understand patient emotions and clinical care experience. Sentiment analysis is also called as opinion mining. It helps to identify and understand patients’ feedback. It is done by analyzing and understanding reviews, posts, feedback, and discussions etc.

In the healthcare industry, sentiment analysis or opinion mining is used to get a deeper insight of what treatments are required by patients, which hospitals they received treatments from, and quality of services that were provided by the healthcare facilities to the patients.

Benefits of Sentiment Analysis for a Healthcare Facility/Clinic

There are a wide variety of reasons why sentiment analysis or opinion mining is the way to go. The main reason being that it provides deep insight into the patient care experience or treatment experience, helps reduce costs, and improves patient care.  Feedback from patients are also used as inputs for further clinical research and treatments. Sentiment analysis also gives insight and root cause analysis into services and performance efficiency of the healthcare facility or clinic. This further helps to cover the gap between healthcare professionals and their patients if timely action is undertaken in understanding the negative and neutral feedback sentiments.

Sentiment analysis provides deep insight into the patient care experience, reduces costs, and improves patient care.

This real-time data provides a competitive edge to the healthcare facilities and clinics that use sentiment analytics. Sentiment Analytics drives insights into recommendations of the services provided, which gives overall positive or negative  or neutral sentiment categorization. Sentiment analysis provides further comprehension of patient’s emotions and feelings, as well as the intensity of their emotions.

The other benefits that could be derived from sentiment analysis for healthcare facilities and clinics are that it could be used in creating marketing campaigns, offers, products, and services that will cater better to the existing patients and also attract new patients. Giving referral forms to existing patients will help acquire new patients if existing patients are satisfied with their provider’s services. Customization of market strategy can be incorporated based on the wide range of patient demographics.

Customized information, educational material, social media platforms, newsletters, can further help comprehend and improve patient satisfaction with their providers and thereby aiding in retaining patients and building loyalty.

Furthermore, sentiment analysis helps recognize the patient’s sentiments regarding any healthcare government reforms, regulations, health plans, benefits, insurance companies etc. During a pandemic, it can contribute greatly to crisis management for healthcare institutions.

Insights into Sentiment Analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sentiment analysis and opinion mining gives a true insight into the human emotions especially in terms of crisis management. Social media posts are one of the best possible ways to capture human thoughts and feelings in the ongoing COVID crisis. One may find myriad post categories, ranging from facts to fears to positive personal stories that highlight recoveries from the dreaded pandemic that has loomed the world.

One of the most common parameters in the sentiment analysis techniques is frequency of an emotion. The higher the frequency or the number of times a word appears in a sample set of data, the stronger is the emotion in context to that particular topic or subject.

Some of the positive high frequency sentiments echoed through the current pandemic situation include - purchase intent, few, vaccines, front-line workers, healthcare workers, immunity, recoveries, work from home, clinical trials, protect, support, social distancing, hope, cure, survive, and testing.

On the other hand, some of the negative high frequency sentiments that has stormed online posts through the current pandemic situation include - anger, sadness, fear, ventilators, symptoms of COVID, death, hospitals, isolation, morgue, threat, China, Wuhan, virus, outbreak, breaking, crisis, warning, disaster, concern of medical supplies, disgust, hoarding, war, disease, economy, lockdown, and unemployment.   

From a healthcare perspective, the COVID pandemic has affected our social life, and daily activities. Self-care measures such as social distancing, frequent and proper hand washing, use of masks or face coverings, and use of hand sanitizers  have been gaining predominantly high importance in day-to-day lives.

In general, COVID pandemic has affected travel, stocks, business, social events, office work, educational institutions, restaurants, store purchases, financial markets, and pretty much everything once could think of.

Industry Trends for Sentiment Analysis

Now a days patients are seeking medical information and sharing their health care experiences as well as health information on the internet, so understanding online posts in forums becomes even more important for healthcare companies and pharmacies to get meaningful insights or information. There is a growing connection between patients and medical fraternities in the online world.

In the future instead of relying on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System (HCAHPS) survey scores alone, providers can include sentiment analysis as well as another dimension to the enhancing patient care experience.  Taking steps to respond to patient pain can dramatically increase patient satisfaction. Another example is to look at emotions such as providers’ and nurses’ empathy.  Sentiment analysis of comments regarding hospital wait time, etc. could help to understand areas of process improvement.

In the area of healthcare, sentiment analysis and opinion mining is still at its infancy. But it has shown growing popularity and importance across the world. In the future, there will be increased focus on providing higher patient-centric care and quality of service and sentiment analysis will play pivotal role in making that happen.