March 07, 2017

Uncovering Insights in Digital Patient Feedback

By: Andrew Rainey

Patient Feedback Challenges

Historically patient experience was measured solely with CAHPS surveys. Now that’s changed. Whether you work for a hospital, physician practice, ambulatory surgical center or another type of healthcare organization, patient feedback is now scattered across multiple sources including online reviews, social media, patient surveys and even call center data. The challenge is how do you make sense of all this information. Buried within these open-ended comments are meaningful insights that can be used to improve the patient experience and your organization’s reputation.

The evidence is there. At Binary Fountain, we’ve analyzed nearly 10 million reviews to date – and uncovered over 40 million insights – and the numbers continue to grow 44% annually, according to our internal research. The need to quickly analyze feedback at scale becomes more vital. You need to trend on this data as well as quickly drill down into the details to identify issues that need to be resolved. Even the online reviews and surveys one practice receives can be overwhelming to manage – and it can impact their business. So what’s the strategy you need to adopt to gain value from patient feedback?

Arm Yourself with Healthcare-specific NLP.

So what is natural language processing (NLP)? As scientific as it sounds, NLP uncovers meaningful insights from everyday language that can be found in millions of online reviews, surveys and other sources. Identifying and analyzing keywords and phrases in unstructured comments, along with the context of how they’re being used, can reveal useful information. NLP is one of the most powerful tools a system can use to understand and act on the patient experience.

When we evaluated the market, the NLP tools we came across were created to work across multiple industries. Patients are unique consumers so a one-size-fits all approach doesn’t work well when it comes to understanding their voice. There are valuable lessons learned from other industries, but feedback provided about a physician or specialist requires a more targeted NLP, not one that also analyzes reviews about Bob’s Auto Shop, J. Crew or McDonald’s.

We took the approach of creating a healthcare-centric NLP from the ground up to understand the nuances of healthcare language, starting with 37 patient experience categories serving as the foundation. Among these categories, insights from comments could be related to Timely Care (“waited over 30 minutes…”), Helps Patient Understand (“Doctor took time to explain new medication…”) Overall Experience (They take great care of our family…”), for example, while revealing their sentiment. It even lets you drill down into the root cause of the issue, helping make this information actionable. For a healthcare system or practice, if front desk staff is receiving bad reviews they’ll want to dig deeper to identify the issue causing it – and fix it. Ultimately, they want to know “the why” behind a three-star or five-star review, which is truly valuable.

Taking Action.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to build patient loyalty and create a better patient experience. Engaging your patients online or offline is key. Timely service recovery on a patient complaint could turn a bad review into a better one. It can also be a learning moment, helping you identify where you need to improve. Healthcare organizations like Carilion Clinic and Signature Medical Group are exemplary when it comes to making this data actionable, and their patient experience scores and reputation management programs have improved as a result.

Online Reviews Correlate to HCAHPS.

What we have learned along the way is the value of online reviews. We recently performed a study of 105 hospitals across 19 states and discovered a strong, positive correlation (0.54 coefficient) between patient feedback scores calculated from unstructured online reviews and HCAHPS Top Box scores (overall rating domain).

Understand What’s Important to Your Patients.

The answers toward improving the patient experience are in front of you. You already have a wealth of patient feedback, and as I mentioned before, you need to make sense of it. It’s about taking the next step, and you need tools created specifically for the healthcare environment to have a positive, meaningful impact on the patient experience. Having a comprehensive view of patient metrics and insights can help you achieve valuable competitive advantages. Many healthcare organizations are already benchmarking their performance against other healthcare organizations. Healthcare is trending toward the consumer experience and the health systems that embrace this shift will find themselves winning new patients and building long-term loyalty.

Interested in finding out how to optimize – or initialize – your online reputation management or patient experience analytics program?
Contact Binary Fountain today to request a personalized demonstration of our comprehensive reputation management platform.

About the Author

Andrew Rainey
EVP of Strategy & Corporate Development

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