Provider Directories: Promoting Physicians On The Web

Are potential patients finding information they need to choose your providers?

If you’re like most healthcare organizations, provider profiles top the list of most visited content on your website. In fact, provider search and profiles frequently make up 15-25% of pageviews for hospital and health system sites. This high visibility among both potential patients and internal stakeholders makes your online provider directory one of the most challenging and critical parts of your web strategy.

However, the challenge extends far beyond your own website. Health consumers are increasingly finding information about your providers on third-party sites – business directories, social media, provider review sites – and right within their search results pages on Google, Bing or Yahoo!

Are these potential patients finding the accurate and complete information they need to make decisions? Attend this webinar and learn how to make your provider directory a go to resource for consumers. We’ll also cover why ignoring physician ratings and providers’ online reputations isn’t an option in today’s connected world.


David Sturtz: Provider directories are a huge piece of the puzzle for your health care website, and something that gets a lot of visibility within the organization as well. And so we’re going to walk through a number of different topics today related to the provider directory, how people look for information about physicians online, and some things that you can do to help improve the whole process.


So to get started, we want to take a look at a map of the overall patient journey and where that kind of begins, starting from typically some sort of search process. So a prospective patient goes out and does a search, maybe for your hospital brand, maybe for a particular physician somewhere in that range, and winds up in a number of different places. They may end up on your own site or your own provider directory, down there following the path along the bottom. Or they may end up on a third party directory, something like a Health Grades or Vitals, that has listings for those physicians. They may end up getting some results back from the search engine itself around the physician or around the location that they’re looking for.

As they dig deeper into that information, on your own site we’re seeing a trend around publishing ratings and reviews. So we’ll talk about that today as well. And then on third party sites, that’s where reputation management comes into play, really thinking about how you’re watching what’s going on out there and seeing what’s happening. So this is kind of the lay the land that we’re going to talk through today. And to get started I wanted to talk about local search and some of the things that are going on there. We know that search is a huge part of the patient experience. Health consumers really rely on search with the vast majority of them looking online for health information using search engines. And when they’re on mobile especially looking for that local search information.

The big trend within the search engines is really that the organic search space is disappearing to a large degree. So when we think about ranking number one on Google for a particular search query, those organic rankings for actual pages and URLs are really shrinking. And what’s taking over as you can see in the diagram on the right, of course, the ads and those have even increased in prominence as Google has kind of dropped out those right side ads and focusing on putting them up at the top. A very small number of organic results that may show up for a query especially when you have a location involved and you have sort of that local search intent where Google is thinking.

This user is probably searching for an address, a phone number or something like that. A lot more of the results are going to be what you see in this search results page where you have what’s called the local pack. So these are kind of the all over the name and address types listings. You’ve got the map that goes along with that. So you can see in just in this result there’s maybe about three spaces that are being used by organic ads depending on what comes back as far as other types of media, images, news articles, all those kinds of things start to shrink that space even further. So we really have to start thinking outside of just the URLs on the website when we think about optimizing for search.

Another reason that this is becoming important, this is something we talked about in our trends of webinar earlier this year, is that search is really going beyond web browsers. It’s really launched into the mobile space and we’re all familiar in using to varying degrees of success the different search engines that are out there looking for information, using Siri and Cortana. And that really works off of a different type of search engine optimization. So really thinking about the entities that are involved, the people, places, and things that you’re representing online, and how search engines and crawlers are understanding the data that you’re publishing using much more structured data approaches like to represent that data online. So we have to kind of think outside of the box that we’re used to as far as going to that Google search page and that being the be all and end all of finding your organization.

To walk through the process we go through when thinking about optimizing for local search, there’s a number of different pieces at play here. This is kind of our map of that whole world. So you’ve got your website over there on the right-hand side. You’ve got probably provider and location profiles within that website and some information published there. There’s certainly typical traditional website factors that you want to look at on page, SEO types of things including page titles and descriptions and how your URL is structured and things like that. In addition, when it comes to these local search engines, you really want to be thinking about this whole ecosystem of data that’s out there.

A piece of that puzzle is what’s known as data aggregators. So a number of companies that I’d like to call the credit reporting agencies of local data, they publish names, addresses, and phone numbers for businesses based on a whole bunch of different data sources. And some of those data sources may be more accurate than others. And this is where a lot of times you encounter those weird things going on where all of a sudden a physician’s mobile phone number is now listed as their official office phone. And a lot of times you’re probably getting a call about that situation and why is this going on. That may be listed off on some building program somewhere that those data aggregators got a hold of and decided that was the new phone number. So, an important piece of the puzzle can be publishing data directly to those aggregators to make sure that you’re publishing the really true name, address, and phone information.

So you come down from there, that data filters out into directory review sites. It also filters into the search engines to some degree. And an interesting thing happens where most of the search engines now are overlapping with those directory and review sites. So Google has Google My Business, Bing has Bing Places for business, Yahoo uses some of the Yext engine to fuel their listings. So a whole mix of things going on there and a lot of overlap where those search engines are really becoming directory sites as well. You have an option there as you look at those directory and review sites. A lot of them have manual claiming process. Obviously, people are pretty familiar with Google My Business and Bing Places going through that claiming process as well. And that gives you the opportunity to add some photos, descriptions, hours, more information about your listings. And really it’s the only way, that kind of manual process or a bulk upload process, are the only ways within Google to actually kind of claim that listing and help to make sure that you’re controlling the information to some degree that’s published there. There still seems to be a little bit of fluidity as far as what Google decides it’s going to show at any given moment but that’s the way to get the most control out of that.

And then the third piece of the puzzle, taking things a little bit more advanced is publishing the structured data on your website itself. So using markup to help tell those web crawlers from the search engines down to the detail level the names, addresses, phone numbers, the featured images, all of these types of things around your locations in way that they can use for those more structured data searches, building out what they call the knowledge graph and being able to explore that data in new and different ways. So really there’s a number of different levels throughout that ecosystem that you want to make sure that you’re approaching as you’re thinking about the problem of local search. And we’ll talk about some ways to kind of prioritize and take some first steps into that world.

Another important component of this is actually monitoring the listings data that’s out there. So if you’re going to the effort of doing this and investing and trying to fix this data, you want to make sure that it’s staying fixed and that can be really tricky to do because there are dozens or hundreds of sites out there that you want to kind of pay attention to through this process. So this is where some tools can come into play to help you make sure that everything is matching up as you go throughout the web and as users are maybe encountering your information on all of these different sites.

So one of the questions we get is kind of where did you get started with this whole process. You’re starting to think that local search is something we need to be paying attention to. Where do we need to begin with that? And the number one thing we see is just starting out even within your own organization to identify the consistent location and provider data. We see a lot of times just even within the organization that there’s different naming conventions and different phone numbers and maybe missing information that’s out there. How exactly are we going to break this down? Thinking about all of the different contact points that may be out there that have their own address and phone numbers associated with them and really getting that data in good shape that seems to be the first place to really focus from most organizations, making sure that that exists and is really robust data.

From there, one of the first things we would probably advise people to do is to actually go through some of the process of claiming some of the key listings on Google My Business. Like I said, there’s not a lot of workarounds for that, that pretty manual process, pretty frustrating process for a lot of people. But it’s really a key to getting control of those listings within Google. Adding structured data, is something that you can control within your own website. So that’s something that would top my list as well. Making sure that that markup is there on location and provider pages, making sure that all of that is publishing the right up to date information in a really structured way that can really help to boost some of that local SEO. And then making sure that you’ve got processes in place to maintain the accuracy of that information. So this is all kind of baseline, making sure that it’s all out there, it’s being published in a way that’s really useful and you’ve got some of those first levels of claiming done.

The next step, taking it to the next level, is usually finding a slice out of all of that, of the most high priority listings to take a more in-depth effort maybe using some third party tools or an agency to help you through that process. So that may be just picking out across your facilities which ones are the ones that are having the most issues or the most accessed by patients, out of your providers who are the more shoppable positions that maybe you want to support through the local listings effort? It can be quite expensive as you start to get into a huge numbers of physicians that you want to push through that. So really we see a lot of organizations prioritizing where they’re going to focus the resources especially as they’re getting started in this process. You don’t have to eat the whole elephant, you can really take a slice at a time.

So that’s the high-level around the local search options. Digging into the provider directory, where patients will end up on your site as they’re looking for physician information. We see some pretty interesting statistics as we look across our clients, we’ve found that up to 20% of inbound traffic coming from search engines arrives into the provider directory. So a lot of this depends on how focused the organization is, on some of the SEO and promotion strategies around providers, depending on kind of the driver’s fee organization, that may be higher or lower. But we’ve seen up to in around 20% on just around inbound traffic and up to 25% of overall page views. So that means a quarter of the traffic that’s hitting the site is within that provider directory. That’s a pretty big number and really speaks to that visibility both externally and internally that we’re talking about here. So this is a really critical piece of your site to pay attention to. A lot of times because it tends to be very data based and structured in that way, it gets a little bit overlooked in terms of content development and really thinking about this as content on your website.

One of the areas that we really focus on when we’re thinking about provider profiles is what the patient’s need and want as they’re looking at this information. And we have this broken down into two different categories of information, one around qualification criteria. This tends to be the those pass-fail types of things. Do they actually accept my insurance? Are the right specialty for what I’m looking for? Can I be seen? Are they accepting new patients? And can they treat my condition? So this is kind of that black and white, they’re either in or out of that category. They either pass or fail those qualification criteria. On the other side, we have the more qualitative level of the selection criteria, things that people use that they’re looking for, they’re looking for the best match. But everybody is kind of on a scale as far as how well they’re going to match. And this is things like how likable are they? Are they trustworthy? Can I see that others have trusted them? Are they going to be good at the job? Are they actually convenient to my location?

And all of that just kind of changes depending on exactly what the situation is. You can imagine having a primary care physician that’s located close to you versus going to see a specialist a little bit further away. A lot of different criteria going into that selection process. So these are important things to consider as you’re creating those provider profiles, as you’re making sure that the content that filters into these profiles really supports the patients on the decisions that they’re making. So we’ve got an example here of a provider bio that really does this. So it’s really written to the user, to a consumer point of view. A lot of the technical terminology has been changed around to really make it familiar words and simple and easy to use, as well as making it really have emotional connection to it.

So you can see this content we’ve called out also highlights the conditions that this provider specializes in. So she’s a dedicated breast imager so you know that’s what she does all the time. She’s going to be an expert at doing that. And then also hits those selection criterion and talks about likability, including some of her family life and her hobbies and different things that help you start to relate to her as a person. And that’s an important bridge to build through these provider bios is how can we not only talk about these technical types of things exactly, the procedures and specialty areas that they work within, but how do we start to make a connection, a human connection, between the user and that particular provider?

As you’re thinking about writing these compelling provider bios, you want to think about creating that narrative that’s really unique. So how do we tell the story in a really unique way? Talk about the commitment they have to their work, make sure that they come across as being human. That’s really important to patients. And like I said, start to build that relationship with the patient. Of course, you want to use web writing best practices and I’ve highlighted here, if you go to we have a white paper on web writing for health care. It has lots of tips in there. Key things, focusing on the user, making sure that you keep it simple, and making sure that there’s a clear call to action somewhere within the provider profile as well. And we’ll talk about that a little bit more.

As you’re thinking about a provider directory and sort of the structure of that, one of the things that kind of where that experience tends to start on the site is with some sort of a search. And we see a number of different things going on there. More and more we’re seeing folks breakout primary care from some of the specialty care and helping people kind of be guided through that process of finding primary care physicians versus finding a specialist. One of the other things that we’re seeing is more inclusive provider, so it’s not just doctors, even though a lot of times we use that language in the navigation including more mid-level providers as well as even down into nursing staff since those are the folks that people are frequently interacting with and even spending more time within the office. It becomes a greater part of that decision-making process.

One of the key areas to focus on as well is searching by name. A lot of times you have users coming in that have been referred to a particular provider. They’re doing some kind of validation of that referral or they maybe had been recommended a provider from a family member or a friend. They’re looking for somebody kind of that known item searching. They know exactly what they’re looking for and want to find it quickly. The other end of that is the more categorical searching that you see here around finding a primary physician, who are they going to treat, and where are they located becomes more important. So providing some different ways to search is pretty important, matching that back to the way that people are looking for this different type of information.

One of the things that we’re seeing less of, kind of the trend away from, having that really super advanced set of search fields. So every single drop down and search box that you can imagine, different criteria, really seeing the trends towards being able to refine your search criteria and not presenting too much to the user upfront. So we find that induces more errors in the process than necessary. As you get into that search process, you get a set of results back. This is an example from Cone Health Medical Group using more of a tiled layout as kind of a card-based design. Something that collapses down really well on mobile. So of course through the whole process you want to be thinking and testing how does all of these work on a mobile phone. Everybody has one at their fingertips at all times and they want to make sure that that experience is really fluid across all of the different devices.

Getting into the profile itself, this is a provider profile on Rush-Copley’s site. And you can see really a nice design to this, really prominent call to action there for requests and appointments as well as the number, the phone number to call for appointment scheduling, maps and directions highlighted as well. What really makes this work and some of the foundations that are there that you may not kind of realize, obviously the photography. Some attention has been paid to the photography here. This isn’t your badge ID photo. There’s been a nice photo taken to represent the provider. And then the content, that short blurb of content under her name up at the top is particular. You have to really focus on creating the content that’s going to create that flow. So there’s a short intro there, just a few sentences that helps you to get to know this provider and really what she’s about. That can be expanded on further down the page but really thinking about what is the flow of content on the page, how is that all going to weave together? Making sure that you’re spending time developing the content that is going to create that overall experience.

I got another example of a provider bio here. And this is the profile page on Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital. And again, they’ve invested in the photography for these providers. That stands out. This is a really large image, really sharp and looks good at a whole range of resolutions. Really tied in, you can see just above the cutoff there, the video also ties into that image, incorporating videos and another multimedia elements into these provider profiles. And again the way that the content is structured within this bio really flows. And so you have to think about all these chunks of content including the little bits of text that are up there on top of the image flowing into that longer bio below the image area.

Here we’ve got the locations kind of called out on the right-hand side. And then I’ve kind of snipped it off here and pulled up from lower down from the profile. You can see they’ve actually incorporated blog posts that are authored by that provider as well as podcasts. They participated in some different radio shows and things like that. And so they’ve called out those different pieces of content and so it gives you more different ways as a potential patient to interact with that provider and start to get to know what are they about. You can really get a lot of sense of who they are from both of those videos as well as the writing on the blog posts or hearing their voice on a podcast. So thinking about all of those different media elements making sure that you can combine those into the provider profile.

So we think about places to begin with the provider directory, the first step for most folks is really deciding who’s included. And as I mentioned, that really seems to be an expanding set of providers. So it maybe time to re-evaluate who actually shows up in your provider directory and thinking about expanding that from just the MDs now to a whole range of providers. Thinking through some of the terminology, and again this may be something to re-evaluate, how are you going to present some of those different relationships that providers have with your organization, whether they’re employed or that they’re just community physicians? There tends to be different levels of relationship. Some of that is important to patients, some of that needs to be explained to patients through the whole experience. And how that’s going to be handled? Same thing for terminology like specialties or sub-specialties. It’s nice to have some of those really technical terms but it’s also helpful to have the right words there for patients to understand really what does this person do on a day to day basis. Do they treat the kind of thing that I’m coming to them for?

You want to make sure that the content is really written and edited to meet those users needs. So again following the good guidelines for web writing as well as making sure that all of the data is there for both qualification and selection. So both black and white sort of insurance and specialty information as well as things that are going to help them appear as trustworthy and kind of speak to their bedside manner and those types of things. A clear call to action is essential. So really thinking through what can we get out there from our call to action within the provider profile. So that maybe a request an appointment type of form, something that is more of an inquiry rather than actually scheduling. We’re seeing more and more folks going the scheduling route as some of the different players in that space open up some of the options. So being able to have the whole range, whether that’s schedule an appointment today, make a phone call, or actually do an online inquiry. The more that you can get those calls to action tied into the provider directory, the stronger case you can make for the effort that you’re spending there. It really, really drives a lot of downstream revenue.

The next steps in this area really are to continue enhancing that content. I think it’s kind of an endless job potentially to continue to add into those provider profiles additional content assets, telling that story even more, and making sure that you can really push and take this calls to action to the next level. If you’re doing the web inquiry today than pushing that towards real-time scheduling is kind of one of the next steps out there. Another area that we’re seeing a lot of folks focusing on within the provider profile is ratings and reviews. So this is kind of another next step that we’re going to dig into detail on. We’re seeing a huge increase in the number of patients that are reporting that ratings and reviews are driving their choice. So these are numbers from 2014. I think the increase in different third party sites that are publishing these ratings and reviews is only pushing these numbers up. You sort of can’t not look at ratings in this point if you’re doing a search online. So at this point in time, they were saying 60% were looking at ratings. There’s a high trust factor of these ratings and they are influencing what people are selecting or avoiding particular providers.

It’s important to remember as well that patients are not just using reviews before they select a physician. So that here is about 60% of the use case, that’s the one we probably all have top of mind. Somebody looking for a new provider, they’re going to look at ratings and reviews. We also have to think about the referrals and kind of confirmation that goes on in the process. If you’re thinking about shopping around for a new provider or you’ve been referred to somebody and have already kind of selected that provider, you may also be looking at ratings and reviews to help kind of confirm that decision that’s already been made. Maybe changing your mind after the fact if you find that they aren’t rated or reviewed highly. So about 40% of folks actually looking after the fact and double-checking the ratings and reviews for a particular provider.

One of the reasons that publishing this information is so helpful is the same things we’re talking about on the provider bios, thinking about these qualitative factors. It’s really valuable to patients to understand whether their provider is going to listen to them and be attentive, if they’re competent, caring, those types of things. These qualitative factors can be really hard to promote and talk about through that marketing copy. It’s easy for that to come off as of course that’s the organization’s opinion that this is a nice and caring person. The reviews that you publish online can really help to give that first person perspective on is this a provider that is going to care about me and how have they behaved with other patients. So we know this is a huge piece of the experience, a lot of different articles being written around the patients are really looking for these qualitative factors, and that they are willing to switch providers based on those qualitative factors.

Some other reasons more from an industry perspective and more of a philosophical perspective even on why it’s important to publish ratings and reviews. There’ve been a series of great articles in the Harvard Business Review around why providers should be publishing ratings and how that is impacting health care overall. But outside of your own organization, I think there’s an opportunity for health care providers to publish this information really set what it means to be transparent around a physician ratings to help to change the overall culture, and to kind of help set the stage for these other third parties that are publishing this information as well. And so it’s not just necessarily about individual providers on your site but collectively how are we thinking about this? How are we talking about what makes a good quality physician?


So I want to shift gears a little bit and actually dig into an example here. So this is Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in Wisconsin. They added provider ratings and reviews to their sites at the beginning of the year back in January. And what they are working through is actually using some of the press gainy data that they received to publish both the numerical rating there, you can see 4.8 out of 5 stars for this particular physician, and some of the review text that they received back as well. And they have a particular criteria around which reviews make it onto the site and of course are editing for any potential PHI or other language that they don’t what to put on the site. But really increasing that transparency, having a lot of information available on those provider profiles. And it’s really had a lot of benefits to their provider directory.

The results after about three months of having it out there, looking through the end of March of this year, huge rank improvements across their search engine ranking. So they saw about a 55% increase in URLs that were ranked in those first four organic spots. So those are the really critical ones and beyond that it’s kind of questionable whether you’re going to get clicked at all. But a huge increase in just overall rank. Also driving about 27% increase in organic traffic just into the provider directory. So huge gains there just as far as visibility. And for them, that translated as well into goal completion. So getting appointment requests online, about a 30% increase there and they were already doing substantial numbers of online appointment requests. So really driving a lot of downstream revenue, a lot of appointments through that physician directory, and really boosting that up there.

Why does that happen when you add provider ratings and reviews to your site? Well, if you’re leveraging those internal patient satisfaction surveys, you have a huge number of reviews. There’s a number of things that are really great about using that data source. One is just that quantity. Another is you already know what that data is. You’re probably already looking that as an organization and seeing what those reviews are, what those numbers are that’s being watched constantly. And so it shouldn’t be a surprise to the organization how the different providers rate within those patient satisfaction surveys.

By publishing that out and using some of the structured data markup to get that into the Google results as a rich snippet, you can see there they have 179 reviews for this physician with 4.8 rating versus Health Grades has about 14 and the rating is around 3.4. So you get a more balanced rating and you really get a large number of reviews out there, which if you’re looking at this from the patient’s point of view, I want to go see what those 179 people had to say. There’s going to be a lot more information out there for me. Having those reviews on the page helps to expand that page content. So you’ve got a whole other source of content and freshness to that content as well as an expanded range of keywords that are being used in those reviews helping to tell Google that this is a more authoritative page about that physician. There’s just more substance there.

The nice thing about having the star ratings on there as well is it makes it a much more clickable listing. It really attracts the eye to that and helps to boost that up there. What we tend to see is Google running sort of experiments where you see more impressions happening for a particular URL. And then based on those additional impressions that Google may be providing if it’s matched by the click through rate, you tend to see a rank increase. And so when this gets moved up the page it has a very attractive listing there with a nice, clean page title and description as well as the rating. Really gets a lot of clicks and helps to boost the overall SEO.

So from a technical perspective, how is this implemented? This is kind of the model that it takes, this kind of the high level, technical data model. We’ve got the patient survey data out there towards the bottom, and all of that is flowing into some sort of data repository. So there’s a couple of different ways to approach this. One of the systems that we’ve worked with is Binary Fountain. There’s a number of them out there. All of that patient survey data that is potentially published goes into that data repository, and then there’s some sort of review and approval process. So that maybe happening more at the patient survey data provider level, it could be happening through one of these third-party platforms like Binary Fountain. A number of different ways to approach that but that all gets encapsulated into an API that allows us to pull that information across into the provider directory. So this is the general workflow. So there is kind of a check and balance in there for which information gets published out and approval process that goes with that. Some differences in maybe how that’s approached and how efficient that process can be. But at a general level, this is how it works.

Some of the concerns that we’ve heard raised, and you may be hearing within your organization, the number one thing is probably around that this may be unfair to particular providers or things may be biased. And so in response to that, it’s really important to have policies in place around which ratings and reviews you’re going to display, which things are going to be taken down, and what the process is if somebody requests if a particular provider request that a review be removed. What does that process look like? We’ve heard some processes like removing it right away and doing a review process and potentially publishing it back if it still matches your particular criteria.

Really have to decide what that looks like for your organization, really important to make sure that if you’re approaching this from a point of transparency that you’re really supporting that. It’s important for the users to be able to trust that information. If it’s not trustworthy it’s really not adding value to the site. And so it’s an important task to communicate to the providers, as familiar as we all are with movie reviews and reviews on sites like Amazon, patients are really smart about which reviews they’re going to trust and really evaluate it critically. If there is one bad review and 50 great reviews, they’re going to be looking pretty critically at that bad review and trying to decide how much weight that’s going to carry.

A lot of concern always in health care around PHI, disclosing sensitive data. Just making sure that you’ve got a robust approval process in place, and maybe some tool sets in place to help filter some of that stuff out, and making sure that the legal language around your surveys and the way that your data is going to be used has been reviewed and is up to date in relation to what you’re doing with the survey data. One of the other concerns we hear a lot of times is that there’s going to be consumer visibility when you have operational challenges. So one of the things that we see a lot is that the provider reviews are not really about the provider. They’re actually about the parking situation, they’re about the wait times, they’re about some of the office staff.

And so some of the concern is that consumers now going to have all these visibility into problems that we either can’t fix or haven’t been able to fix yet. And really I think it just is something that the organization needs to tackle and being transparent about these issues. This isn’t really changing the conversations that people are having offline. They’re already talking to their friends and neighbors and everybody knows already that that clinic maybe has long wait times or that parking is a challenge at that particular hospital. So the more you can be transparent about how you’re addressing those challenges, what things you have in the works to help fix those in the long term, all of those are great ways to help kind of talk to those different issues that people are already out there and discussing.

So where should you begin around provider ratings? How do we even get started? Keeping in mind that even if you’re not thinking this is something you’re going to be able to do within the next six months, there’s a lot of ground work to be made ahead of time and there are things that can be done immediately to start to put those pieces in place as this trend accelerates. And you see more and more folks publishing this online that the pressure starts to increase to add that to your website as well. One of the key things to look at initially is looking at the surveys that you’re using. What are those data sources you’re going to use for the ratings and reviews? And make sure that all of the legal language is up to date around being able to share that information online. That can be one of the first things that when you are ready to publish that information you actually have the legal right to be able to do that.

Then it comes down to setting some of the rules around what you will and won’t publish. Which types of providers are going to have reviews published, how many reviews do they need to have in place before they actually get that information published, and then working through some language that can be used on the website to represent those rules as well. So making sure that users on the website can see exactly what the policies are. It helps with that overall transparency and the trustworthiness of those reviews. A great approach is to have an internal physician champion or champions that can assist you. So this is something that probably can’t be tackled just by a marketing or web department alone. You really need to have buy-in from a lot of people throughout the organization. And if you can get some of those champions internally to help you with that, that seems to be what really is helping organizations to make this happen.

From a procedural point of view, from a technical point of view, integrating this information really isn’t a huge technical challenge. It’s really more of an organizational challenge. So one of the things that can help with that is not only relying on some of that data that you’re already looking at in the patient satisfaction surveys but making sure that there’s an internal process ahead of the launch with some sort of a time limit on it that gives people access, maybe on a staging site, to see that information how it’s going to be presented and start to get comfortable with the idea that all of these will be out there.

So that’s what we’re seeing around ratings and reviews. On the other side of that, when you’re thinking about third party sites and more ways of using this information that you’re gathering, we get into the area of reputation management and patient experience analytics as well. So looking at all of the information is being published out there or collected about your physicians and how that can be leveraged to your advantage. So when we’re thinking about this, we’re thinking pretty broadly. And we’ve partnered with Binary Fountain in the space and they look at two different sources of information. So one is around the patient satisfaction survey data. So this is like your CG caps, stage caps, data that’s already been collected through surveys, a lot of different providers for those different surveys. That’s kind of your internal view of what’s going on. And this is where your patient experience teams are probably already looking at some of this information and gathering this and really trying to figure out how to improve things.

The other side of this that tends to be a little bit less of a focus right now is those third party sites. So that can be everything from Yelp to a more specific site like Health Grade or Vitals, and the information and reviews that are being published out there on those sites. So this is a little bit different spin on that patient information than the surveys that you’re getting. The surveys tend to be a little bit more statistically accurate, they’re more balanced, they’re going out to everybody in probably a higher participation rate than you would see out there on the social media. But social media is going to surface for you; a lot of concerns that need to be addressed and need to be looked at. And so what we see happening is those data sources coming together into one place, being able to provide some analytics and bench marking throughout the organization, seeing which providers are doing well, which particular practices maybe aren’t doing as well, and where are some particular areas for improvement are.

This is where the marketing side of things really starts to intersect with the operational components. You can only market so hard before it really hits up against that wall of okay, what are we going to do differently? How is our product actually different or how are we improving our product in a way that is substantially different? Out of that when you’re thinking about the social media and some of these third party review sites, a lot of times you have the opportunity to respond to any of the posts that get put out there. So it’s important to think about what that alerting and response workflow looks like. How you become aware of that information and who internally is going to respond, what that workflow may look like? A lot of times we see that being an initial post back and then a process for taking that offline. Maybe some internal folks can respond to that as well in order to help to kind of correct that negative experience that happened.

One of the things that we really like out of the Binary Fountain platform that I think helps boost it into the health care space just a little bit better is how it breaks down a lot of the information. So here we’re dealing with a lot of free-form information, whether that’s in the open-ended surveys or in the social media sites that are out there. A really needed toolset in place that’s gonna help you understand not just is this a good review or a bad review but in what ways are the patient experience being shaped by things like getting timely care versus bedside manner of the physician. As I said, this really breaks down a little bit differently. The physician is maybe only one slice out of these reviews even though a lot of the language is centered around that particular provider. Most of the experience is outside of that provider’s direct control, outside of the time spent with that provider. So really thinking about what are all of the elements, being able to see across the organization how those things break down and where the positive aspects are and where are the negative aspects are.

So how to get started into this space? Really, you want to start out kind of building a bridge to your patient experience team. Making some connections there, understanding what they’re up to, and how some of the marketing efforts really intersect with those patient experience efforts. Identifying the locations and providers that you want to focus on is a key next step. So you may not want to take on everything all at once. There are probably some high profile locations, some critical providers that you need to bump up to the top of that list. Figure out where you’re going to begin and maybe what some phases would be down the road as you expand that scope. Think about the sites and data sources you’re going to look at. So are you going to look at the patient satisfaction surveys? Are you going to include a lot of social media sites? And how detailed do you want to get in that? Do you need the break down bit by bit as far as where these experiences are happening? Or you wanting to just kind of start out and get a sense of from social and third party sites where are the good and bad reviews are happening? Different tool sets can apply to a whole different range depending on what you decide in that area.

You want to set out what your response guidelines are. So you probably have some version of this today, making sure that these are up to date and that you have responsibilities detailed out, what’s the workflow look like across both the marketing staff, your web team, your patient experience teams, your clinic staff. Who’s handling what and how is that going to flow? As you get a little bit deeper in there, making sure that you’re communicating this information back. So like I said, you’re probably talking internally about a lot of the transparency around patient satisfaction. That’s probably already happening in most organizations. Getting some of that social and third party data in there is something that’s a little bit new. And so that’s really an opportunity to have some conversations about how you appear on those social media sites, on those third party reviews, and what can be done about improving that.

Provider Directories: Promoting Physicians On The Web