With the increasing importance of online reviews in the provider selection process, healthcare systems are adapting their digital strategies to improve consumer and patient experience. One of the nation’s most integrated health systems, UnityPoint Health, has been doing just that. They’ve been publishing star ratings and comments from their Press Ganey survey data to provider profile pages for over a year now. We spoke to UnityPoint Health’s Kasey Duffy, Regional Marketing Director, and Blake Long, Marketing Manager, about this transparency initiative and marketing’s role in driving it.
Can you give us a little background on what drove the need for this initiative around transparency?
Kasey: Fortunately for us, upper management was committed to finding innovative ways to improve patient experience. We saw transparency as a way for providers to take a leadership role in our clinics and shape positive patient experiences.
We also wanted to focus on the consumer experience. We knew we wanted to make choosing a provider as easy as possible for healthcare consumers, and wanted to give them a clear picture of their options by presenting them with detailed feedback from previous patients. That’s where publishing star ratings and comments to provider profile pages came in.
What steps did you take to address those needs and get the initiative going?
Blake: We actually began making preparations for the initiative well in advance. We wanted to make sure that providers were ready and equipped with every tool available to them to lead the way in patient experience. We started by explaining how the program worked, why it was a necessary step to empower consumers in making better healthcare choices and how it would help physicians take control of their online reputation.
Although the initiative was driven by marketing, we thought it would be better for physicians to hear about the program from one of their peers. We spent a lot of time with our provider sponsor, going through all of the ins and outs of the initiative. She gave us great insights into what providers would be concerned about and the best way to educate others on the program. I would definitely recommend this approach to other practices as well. In the end, we were able to gain physician buy-in, which has been key to this initiative’s success.
What challenges did you face along the way? How did you address them?
Kasey: Our biggest challenge was developing an appeals process for patient comments. What would we do if a comment was published and the provider wanted it to be deleted? Should we make a rule that everything gets published good or bad—no exceptions? This was challenging because everyone had a different idea of how the process should work.
Ultimately, we implemented a notification system allowing providers to review all their patient feedback before it is published online and to come forward with any matters of concern within 30 days. We also decided that if a provider wanted a patient comment removed from the website, they would need to fill out a special online form and state their case.
Creating the appeals process was a big challenge, however we have yet to use the process as there has never been an appeals request. I believe this can be attributed to the upfront effort we’ve made in working with physicians and their concerted effort toward delivering a great patient experience.
How is this initiative impacting the organization?
Blake: We believe we’ve helped empower healthcare consumers seek out the best provider for their needs and empowered providers to improve the patient experience. And we’re seeing results. Prospective patients are now spending 50% more time on our provider profile pages and providers with reviews are receiving nearly 75% of all online appointment requests.
Patient experience scores are on the upswing as well. When looking at the data, we’ve seen our physician communications score improve from 92.1% to 95.2 % from the beginning of the initiative through the end of 2016. This has given us an opportunity to take a step forward as an organization, leading the way in patient experience—and our patients have noticed.
Additionally, the initiative has helped us solidify where we want to be in the healthcare marketplace as a medical group with a large network of primary providers and specialists. We want to be the easiest health system to access—and we believe we are accomplishing that.
And finally, what has Binary Fountain’s technology platform helped you do?
Blake: We needed a platform and company aligned with our goals of improving healthcare consumer and patient experience. Binary Fountain’s focus on healthcare, Press Ganey partnership, and deep experience with transparency and reputation management made them a logical choice. Their Binary Star Ratings solution has helped us effectively manage reviewing and publishing star ratings and comments.
Register now for the upcoming webinar on April 27th, featuring executive guest speakers from UnityPoint Health, Press Ganey, Binary Fountain and more. You’ll hear strategies and advice for helping your practice become a more trusted voice for your patients as well as steps for adopting and managing a successful transparency initiative of your own.
About the Author
Zargham help healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.