Assessing Patient-Perceived Hospital Service Quality and Sentiment in Malaysian Public Hospitals Using Machine Learning and Facebook Reviews.


Social media is emerging as a new avenue for hospitals and patients to solicit input on the quality of care. However, social media data is unstructured and enormous in volume. Moreover, no empirical research on the use of social media data and perceived hospital quality of care based on patient online reviews has been performed in Malaysia. The purpose of this study was to investigate the determinants of positive sentiment expressed in hospital Facebook reviews in Malaysia, as well as the association between hospital accreditation and sentiments expressed in Facebook reviews. From 2017 to 2019, we retrieved comments from 48 official public hospitals' Facebook pages. We used machine learning to build a sentiment analyzer and service quality (SERVQUAL) classifier that automatically classifies the sentiment and SERVQUAL dimensions. We utilized logistic regression analysis to determine our goals. We evaluated a total of 1852 reviews and our machine learning sentiment analyzer detected 72.1% of positive reviews and 27.9% of negative reviews. We classified 240 reviews as tangible, 1257 reviews as trustworthy, 125 reviews as responsive, 356 reviews as assurance, and 1174 reviews as empathy using our machine learning SERVQUAL classifier. After adjusting for hospital characteristics, all SERVQUAL dimensions except Tangible were associated with positive sentiment. However, no significant relationship between hospital accreditation and online sentiment was discovered. Facebook reviews powered by machine learning algorithms provide valuable, real-time data that may be missed by traditional hospital quality assessments. Additionally, online patient reviews offer a hitherto untapped indication of quality that may benefit all healthcare stakeholders. Our results confirm prior studies and support the use of Facebook reviews as an adjunct method for assessing the quality of hospital services in Malaysia.

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