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January 31, 2017

Reputation Management Best Practices – Responding to Reviews

By: John McFeely

In the healthcare industry, the need for reputation management is steadily growing. Healthcare consumers are increasingly writing online reviews about their patient experiences as well as looking to others’ reviews to guide their own physician choices. We recently spoke with Kait Phillips and Aksana Koch from Binary Fountain’s customer success team, who’ve been guiding clients…

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In the healthcare industry, the need for reputation management is steadily growing. Healthcare consumers are increasingly writing online reviews about their patient experiences as well as looking to others’ reviews to guide their own physician choices.

We recently spoke with Kait Phillips and Aksana Koch from Binary Fountain’s customer success team, who’ve been guiding clients through implementing and managing our reputation management solution, Binary Health Analytics, about the best practices for healthcare organizations when implementing a successful reputation management strategy.

Q: Hi Kait and Aksana. Could you please give us a little overview about the patterns you’ve seen in healthcare patient reviews?

Aksana: We’ve found that people usually post positive reviews within a couple days of their visit. However, negative reviews vary much more in timing. They might be submitted by a patient while he or she is experiencing a long wait at their physician’s office or weeks later when a billing issue arises.

Kait: Another trend we’ve seen is that reviews continue to increase in number particularly when the practice regularly engages and responds to patient feedback. When prospective patients see that the practice is listening to feedback and responding, it encourages further customer engagement.

Q: Who typically responds to patient reviews on physician online ratings and reviews sites?

Aksana: For hospitals or practices we usually recommend finding a practice manager or a marketing manager to oversee all of the incoming reviews and respond to them online.

Kait: Yes, and for smaller clients it’s commonly a more centralized approach, where someone from the corporate marketing department will respond to patient reviews.

Q: What are your recommendations for responding to reviews?

Kait: We definitely recommend responding to both positive and negative reviews within two to three business days. If the review is negative, it’s best to reach out to the patient and provide them a way to contact the patient relations specialist or practice manager rather than resolving the issue publicly online. This avoids engaging in public conversations that could reveal Protected Health Information (PHI), or draw unwanted attention to the issue before you have a chance to seek resolution with your patient.

In the Binary Health Analytics platform, our clients can set up templated responses for different types of reviews. You don’t want to be seen always writing the same responses word for word to every customer, but you also want to keep them relatively generic. Again, carefully prepared, non-specific responses protect against revealing PHI, helping mitigate risk and respecting the patient. Corporate and legal teams can help to decide how the marketing department or assigned respondent should reply to negative and positive comments and what type of language should be used.

Aksana: Some practices may only respond if the rating given is under three stars, however we suggest acknowledging all reviews. You should even engage with patients who leave glowing, positive reviews and thank them for choosing your practice.

Q: Why is it so important to engage with online reviews?

Aksana: It’s very important for prospective patients to see that the practice is responding to patient reviews, both positive and negative ones. It shines a better light on that practice if potential customers can see that someone is reading the reviews and is concerned about patients’ experiences.

Kait: Yes, it’s important to be accessible and encourage an environment of openness and transparency with clients.

Also, when a patient leaves a negative review, the marketing manager or patient experience manager can address the concern and reach out to the patient in order to turn a negative experience into a positive one. In cases like this, we frequently see patients come back to the negative review they previously left, and update it with a positive response indicating that their issue had been resolved and praising the practice for their customer service. Prospective patients will see these exchanges and appreciate that your practice is patient-centered and concerned about their well-being, as well as their satisfaction.

If you have any questions for Kait and Aksana, please send them to marketing@binaryfountain.com.

About the Author

John McFeely
Sales Director

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January 27, 2017

Webinar Recap: The Impact of First Impressions on Patient Acquisition and Revenue

By: Andrew Rainey

Recently, Carrie Liken, Head of Industry Healthcare at Yext, and I co-presented on the impact of first impressions on patient acquisition and revenue. In case you missed it, here are some tips for understanding the importance of online data, and ratings and reviews on the patient journey. Create an Online Strategy to Improve Patient Acquisition…

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Recently, Carrie Liken, Head of Industry Healthcare at Yext, and I co-presented on the impact of first impressions on patient acquisition and revenue. In case you missed it, here are some tips for understanding the importance of online data, and ratings and reviews on the patient journey.

Create an Online Strategy to Improve Patient Acquisition

As John Weston, former chief marketing officer of the Mayo Clinic, commented “The consumer-to-patient journey is largely a digital journey at their moment of need.”  So paying attention to first online impressions is crucial. When patients “meet you” for the first time online, they’re assessing your practice and your doctors. That information can influence their decision to pick up the phone and make an appointment with you, or keep searching. Keep in mind, they’re just as likely to find out about you from a third-party website as they are from your own profile pages, so you need to stay on top of patient reviews and the accuracy of information affecting your brand wherever it exists.

How’s this affecting physician choice? We’re starting to hear from clients who tell us that patients are not always ready to take their doctor’s first referral to a specialist. With rising health insurance premiums, patients are shopping for plans that provide the most value and are becoming better-educated consumers. They’re doing much of their own research online when selecting a new provider, and they have more choices today than ever before. What are they looking for when selecting a provider? They want to know if the provider is nearby, takes their insurance, specializes in their medical need and is recommended by other patients.

Engage Patients Through Transparency

Inaction is no longer an acceptable alternative to a solid reputation management strategy. You need to own and control your practice or health system brand on and off your online properties (this includes search engines, maps, social media and review sites). You also want to create a baseline for your online reputation—e.g., where do you stand today so you can gauge and measure where you stand six months or a year from now?

To boost your online presence, don’t forget to turn your CAHPS surveys into online ratings and reviews. You’re already collecting this information, so transform it into star ratings after you’ve approved the comments—the negatives as well as the positives—and you’ll see an immediate impact on your online presence and reputation. This allows you to take control and gives your listings a better chance to rank number one in a patient’s search results.

One of our clients reported a 25 percent increase in page views for their primary care providers with star ratings, and a 29 percent increase in page views for specialty care providers with star ratings. Plus, insights from online reviews help improve the patient experience – 85 percent of this provider’s patients found comments shared by other patients to be helpful.

The Power of Accurate Data

When patients uncover inaccurate information about a provider – the office has moved or a particular physician no longer practices there – they often blame the provider instead of the website where they found the information, even if it’s not your site. Yes, it’s a challenge to manage everything that’s being said about you on every third-party website, but there are potentially huge consequences if you don’t.

When Yext visited a health system recently, they reviewed the system’s location data to see if patients could find their cardiology practice. The information they found on Google and Yahoo, for example, showed that cardiology practice two-and-a-half miles away from the actual location.

Let’s say that cardiology practice charges $100 per patient visit (and probably a lot more), and suppose they have two patient no-shows per day because of that inaccurate location information. The lost revenue to that health system is a minimum of $50,000 per year.

Through a robust strategy that aims for transparency, rich listings and accurate data, your practices will make a much stronger first impression. In the age of healthcare consumerism, these initiatives will help your practices drive more acquisitions, improve patient experience and nurture a better bottom line.

To receive a full recording of this webinar, or for a personal demonstration of our online reputation management solutions, contact a Binary Fountain expert today.

About the Author

Andrew Rainey
EVP of Strategy & Corporate Development

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January 25, 2017

Healthcare Trends and Outlook on Reputation Management for 2017

By: Andrew Rainey

Talk to nearly any healthcare marketer today and the topic of “healthcare consumerism” almost always comes up. Patients know they have choices when it comes to selecting the right primary care physician, specialist or inpatient/outpatient facility. Armed with powerful search engines, ratings and reviews, and dozens of targeted articles and blogs, they’re more likely to…

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Talk to nearly any healthcare marketer today and the topic of “healthcare consumerism” almost always comes up. Patients know they have choices when it comes to selecting the right primary care physician, specialist or inpatient/outpatient facility. Armed with powerful search engines, ratings and reviews, and dozens of targeted articles and blogs, they’re more likely to shop around for a provider who meets their specific needs.

To meet that demand for selecting a doctor, most providers we meet with have added, or are in the process of adding “Find a Doc” search functionality to their provider pages that feature: a physician’s credentials, where he or she did their residency, special areas of study, published papers and more. We’ve found the most effective approach to giving consumers the insights they are looking for, however, is by tailoring that search experience to meet patient concerns, not simply highlighting the doctor’s bona fides.

A doctor’s credentials are essential, of course, but a wide range of questions are left unaddressed in that silo of information. For instance, what’s the perceived quality of care from one person to the next? Convenient parking might be a must-have for one person, but it’s irrelevant to a patient taking public transportation. A doctor’s bedside manner is relevant to everyone, but how does that compare to whether the treatment was effective or not? The range of customer-relevant data points are expanding rather than contracting, increasing the challenge of engaging patients in the consumer space. There is hope in addressing these challenges, however.

With Star Ratings, for example, a patient can quickly and easily sort through ratings and peer reviews on a practice’s own website to help them make a more informed decision about selecting a doctor. Having a consumer-focused web presence with features like online scheduling, star ratings, and comments, for instance, is becoming increasingly important. Ahead we’ll give you a look at critical areas where you need to improve efforts to manage one of the most precious commodities healthcare providers have: their reputation.

Important Marketing Trends for 2017

1. Adopt a full transparency review. This goes along with controlling the content on your website and guiding the digital patient journey. Publishing both positive and negative comments and ratings — most of which are positive – helps you build trust with your patients and can sway decisions in your favor. But remember, in addition to your own site, you also have to manage a positive online reputation across all third-party sites like Yelp , Vitals and others.

2. Pay attention to consumerism in healthcare. Health systems are becoming more comfortable engaging with their patients on social media platforms, many who are posting comments and feedback on their patient experience. In fact, patients – as informed healthcare decision makers – are starting to expect the same kind of interaction they receive from hotels or their favorite retail account. For instance, if a patient tweets a negative comment from your waiting room, you may have the opportunity to resolve the issue immediately. Again, this helps create online and on-site service recovery and ultimately helps build loyalty with your brand.

3. Focus on marketing your physicians. Patients want a doctor they can trust. I’d argue that physicians are starting to represent their practice’s brand more than the practice itself. The stats tell the story: 76% of patients searching online for a provider focus on physicians, compared to only 30% for facilities.

4. Engage in standardized ratings. Publishing ratings is important, but there are as many rating systems out there as there are third-party rating sites. Establishing standardized rating methods will become increasingly important, alongside the growth of tools like Star Ratings.

5. Keep an eye on bonuses tied to online feedback. We’re starting to see healthcare providers use online feedback and scoring as a component of physician bonuses. This is validating the importance of online feedback. Healthcare organizations know it can impact patient acquisition and loyalty so it’s being taken seriously.

6. The amount of online feedback will only continue to grow. At Binary Fountain, we’ve seen a 50 percent increase in online reviews just in the last year for our clients. When selecting a provider, patients often value a peer review more than, say, a physician who is mentioned in a recent article. Consumers have already become more accustomed to searching for feedback and ratings on provider and third-party sites, and they will start leaving more of their own comments moving forward.

Interested in finding out how to optimize – or initialize – your online reputation management program for 2017? 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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January 23, 2017

The Power of Digital Patient Feedback Q&A

By: Sabrina Egan

We recently spoke with Signature Medical Group’s Director of Quality, Don Foster, and Melissa Gall, their Digital Marketing Strategist, to get insights into Signature’s recent effort to better understand patient experience across the organization’s more than 25 practices and 50 offices. To do this, they launched a two-pronged initiative using digital patient feedback and Binary…

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We recently spoke with Signature Medical Group’s Director of Quality, Don Foster, and Melissa Gall, their Digital Marketing Strategist, to get insights into Signature’s recent effort to better understand patient experience across the organization’s more than 25 practices and 50 offices. To do this, they launched a two-pronged initiative using digital patient feedback and Binary Fountain’s technology platform to help manage and improve operations across each facility as well as to better inform patients researching their physicians online.

Here, Don and Melissa share lessons learned as well as their process for capturing post-care online feedback, implementing timely service recovery and using data analytics as a springboard for activating improvement initiatives across their practices and increasing physician engagement.

Q: Can you give us a little background on what drove the need for this initiative around patient feedback? 

Melissa: We work with 150 doctors, so there is a lot being said about them online, on a regular basis. And unfortunately, we weren’t always able to keep up with all of the reviews coming in and respond to them as quickly as we would have liked to. We really wanted to get on top of reputation management in our organization.

Don: We determined that we wanted to get more information from our physician’s patients because we didn’t really know how they were performing from the patient experience standpoint.

Q: What steps did you take to address those needs and get this initiative going?

Melissa: It started off as a marketing initiative, and when we went to seek approval it turned out that there was a lot of opportunity to utilize surveys to our advantage, and for cross-functional teams to really make a difference. That meant working with a variety of practices and departments, from marketing to operations.

Don: To address these needs we started looking at the possibility of doing surveys and tying them to third-party review sites. We found opportunities to start surveying patients, which we had never done before, and began to discover patient experience issues that had remained hidden. We used the baseline data we received to start putting teams together and work with operations staff.

We also looked for best practices, and shared feedback about individual practices that were high scoring for all of our physicians. They have been very helpful in generating productive communication and operational improvements.

Q: What challenges did you face along the way? How did you address them?

Melissa: I often work with a lot of doctors who are just beginning their practice and building a patient base. Most of the younger doctors understand the tremendous value of analyzing digital patient feedback, while more veteran doctors don’t always appreciate the value in the same way because they have a more established patient base.

Don: It was definitely a challenge rolling out this initiative with so many practices. The biggest obstacle I had in getting started was the data itself. How do we gather all of this patient data in a meaningful way? We initially had to rely on office managers to do this, but today I can pull that information myself.

Office managers need to take ownership in making changes when opportunities are identified. Physicians are getting more involved in the process, which is what I have been trying to make happen. Although some accept these new methods more readily than others, I work with them to see the value in it—it’s an ongoing process.

Q: What has your patient feedback initiative allowed you to do?

Melissa: Patient reviews are impactful, and with them we’ve been able to pinpoint where to focus our energy. On the marketing side, we ran email campaigns with quotes from patient surveys. We also created videos by recording certain patient success stories. From those efforts we saw a considerable jump in referrals to our site from physician ratings sites. We would have never had those stories without the surveys. The initiative also helped us learn more about our physicians and which ones need help with collateral; their patients may not feel like they know enough before or after seeing a doctor.

Don: The patient feedback effort has allowed me to look at data trends so I could make improvements and manage issues in real time. For example, if a patient writes a negative comment, I can follow-up with the office manager of that practice and together we reach out to the patient and address the issue or concerns. This helps us provide the patient with a better experience—turning a negative into a positive.

Q: How is this initiative impacting the organization?

Don: It helped us to build the Signature Medical Group brand and increase the popularity of Signature practices. Because many practices were very individualized and not necessarily presenting the Signature Medical Group tagline or logo, that’s one of the things we’ve added to the surveys; this, in turn, strengthened our brand presence.

Signature Medical GroupWe also added Signature’s logo to emails and physician websites to drive people to our website. Patients can now easily go from one practice to another within the Signature group for different concerns because they know they can expect a great experience from practices within our organization.

Melissa: All in all, this meant we had a stronger reputation that could elevate our business and create more appointments. I also think it has broken down many barriers between practices and departments. We’ve seen a huge jump in referrals and in the future, we would like to include questions in the surveys asking how patients first heard about Signature Medical Group, and help us further derive ROI. 

Q: What have the outcomes been to date?

Don: We’ve seen a tremendous increase in patient experience scores since we began this initiative. As I’ve talked with other practices, numbers and reviews have increased dramatically.  Before we started this process our overall organization score in Binary Fountain was 3.4.  Our current score has increased to 4.1.  This increase is a result of the work of our entire team.

For instance, at one of the orthopedic practices, our scores have seen significant growth. Our first quarter average scores were in the mid-70s and went up to about 80 percent in the second quarter. Today, scores are in the mid-90s. We also identified that we did not have a high capture rate for our patients’ email addresses.  A focus on this at one practice helped increase our email capture rates from about 50 percent to 90 percent.

The insights from the surveys has allowed us to pinpoint where we can make improvements.  In one case, we identified there were issues with making appointments at one of our practices. We were able to dig deeper and discovered that the issue was the routing of calls in our phone room. We resolved that issue and now our patient experience scores have improved to over 90 percent.

We’ve seen that this gives doctors incentive to perform better as well. I use Binary Fountain’s ranking reports to rank the physicians within the practices and share it with the group. And nobody wants to be at the bottom of the reviews page with the lowest score, so there’s added motivation to make changes for the better. Doctors as well as office staff have already begun setting new performance expectations.

Melissa: We’ve had a big increase in traffic to online ratings sites. Practices are building patients and creating new revenue. Together, patients and physicians clearly see Signature Medical Group as a valuable brand.

Q: What has Binary Fountain’s technology platform helped you do?

Melissa: Binary Fountain’s products and services have helped our organization become more transparent in our advertising, both between practices and with each other. We’re able to talk to our patients and let them know what to expect when they see a Signature doctor. It’s really been phenomenal.

Don: I certainly agree with Melissa. Being able to pull the data in real time when surveys or comments come in has been very effective. It allows us to engage in conversations as soon as feedback arrives. It has also let us keep everything in one place and gives a quick snapshot of how we’re performing on a day to day basis. Because of this, the Binary Fountain platform has been incredibly impactful to our organization.

About the Author

Sabrina Egan
Engagement Manager

Sabrina helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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January 10, 2017

Interview with Carrie Liken, Head of Industry Healthcare at Yext

By: George LaDue

In October 2016, Binary Fountain and Yext announced a partnership to help hospitals, health systems and physicians practices enhance patient acquisition and loyalty. Today, we’re happy to talk with Carrie Liken, Head of Healthcare at Yext, to learn more and get her insight into how accurate physician data is critical to the patient’s journey. Hi,…

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In October 2016, Binary Fountain and Yext announced a partnership to help hospitals, health systems and physicians practices enhance patient acquisition and loyalty. Today, we’re happy to talk with Carrie Liken, Head of Healthcare at Yext, to learn more and get her insight into how accurate physician data is critical to the patient’s journey.

Hi, Carrie. Can you give us a brief overview of Yext, how you work in the healthcare industry and how our new strategic partnership can help improve the patient experience?

Carrie: Yext is a software as a service technology platform, and our software allows providers and health systems to manage location data about their physicians and facilities. Yext has developed relationships with over 100 of the leading maps, apps, and search engines where we publish our clients’ location data to ensure that whenever someone is searching for a particular restaurant, hotel, boutique retail store, ATM, voting location, etc. that information they find is accurate and up-to-date on all of those websites.

About a year ago, we started noticing an interesting trend. We were receiving an increasing amount of interest from healthcare organizations. We soon realized that healthcare had a major problem with managing location data, both physical locations as well as physician-specific information.

Let’s say you do a search for Dr. Smith. There’s a high probability you’re going to find a wrong phone number, wrong address or realize that Dr. Smith actually moved five years ago from one health system to another and he’s still showing up as a member of his old health system.

We started talking to healthcare publishers like Vitals and Wellness.com, and tried to understand if there are specific things people are searching for when trying to find a hospital or physician that’s unique to the industry.  It turns out that the public does search differently when looking for healthcare services, particularly when they’re trying to decide what doctor to see or where they want to go for their treatment when visiting these publisher sites. Yext knew then that we needed to establish an entirely new vertical platform that focused on the needs of healthcare consumers.

Healthcare consumers are increasingly recognizing that they have choices when it comes to selecting a provider and ensuring a positive experience. How did Yext target your location management software to this field?

Carrie: Our Healthcare Location Cloud has different fields and different attributes, specific to healthcare, but it’s still software. Health systems, physician practices and even independent doctors use our platform to house their location information, then we publish that data to healthcare publishers across the internet to make sure it’s correct when patients are searching for it. I used to be on the healthcare team at Google and I can tell you that the way patients search for care has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Mobile technology itself has changed the patient’s journey, and physician and healthcare searches have become much more local.

During my extensive tenure at Google, I followed the patient journey. It almost always starts with a symptom. Someone researches a particular symptom and decides that they actually need to seek treatment. They read about a doctor or a couple of different doctors, but they’re unsure about which one is right for them. Does this doctor accept my insurance? Does this doctor have the experience I need? We also started seeing patient using reviews and ratings which, of course, is where Binary Fountain comes in. When we combine accurate physician data and location information with timely, positive patient reviews, we have the opportunity to inform every point of care along the patient’s journey – from discovery and selection to point of care and feedback.

In terms of the patient experience, what are some of the challenges that Yext helps to solve?

Carrie: We’ve found that approximately 50% of physician and provider location data is incorrect or missing online. During the discovery phase, patients are finding blogs and reading news articles, and identifying what they may need for treatment. Once they have decided to seek help, they’re really looking for four things in a physician:

  1. Does he or she accept my insurance?
  2. Are he or she located near me?
  3. Does  he or she have the relevant expertise to treat my condition?
  4. How does he or she rate based on experiences from other patients?

Circling back to the Dr. Smith example, one of the biggest problems we see is when physicians are either not listed with the right facility, or not listed at all. A doctor may practice out of one hospital, but a search might show him at a hospital five miles away. The phone number or street address could be wrong, too. Physicians move across the hall, across town or across the country all the time. Because of this, health systems face a constant challenge to monitor and manage their physician information, and Yext helps alleviate that pressure.

We’ve been talking about the challenge of monitoring and managing online physician data. In terms of patient acquisition, is this a potential lost opportunity for hospitals and health systems?

Carrie: Yes, there’s a huge lost opportunity here. Today, healthcare consumers perform much of their own research prior to committing to a particular provider. Not too long ago, you would have a family doctor who you would go to about your condition. He or she would say, “Here’s the specialist you need to see,” and you would do what you were told. Now, with access to the internet, mobile technology and all of the health information and reviews that exist online, patients are empowered to make many of their own decisions when it comes to their health.

Hospitals and health systems could miss attracting and acquiring new patients if the information about their physicians is presented incorrectly on websites they don’t own or manage. We want to make sure that anytime a patient or family member is searching for a specific physician or physical location that the information they find is as accurate as possible. They can say, “Oh wow, that’s near me,” and be able to make a new appointment because the phone number is correct.

Health systems realize that their physicians are representations of their brand. They can fix incorrect information on their own website, but the wrong information can also pop up on other sites. I’ve actually heard this in meetings referred to as a game of “Whack-a-mole.” Yext helps solve this by being the source of record for the data internally, making sure it’s correct, then publishing all of that accurate data out into the internet ecosystem.

Why should this matter to a healthcare marketing executive at a hospital, health system or practice?

Carrie: Health system executives are thinking about marketing not just in a digital context but in terms of, “How do I touch the patient and influence their perspective of their experience at every single encounter?” They’re spending a lot of money to build awareness around what their health system does, what it stands for, what service lines it provides, as well as awards, recognition and any element that can boost their awareness in the community. That kind of activity feeds patient acquisition.

In addition to traditional and digital marketing, including social media, health systems need to start rethinking their local marketing strategy if they want to capitalize on the investment they’re making in acquiring patients. You can certainly spend a lot of money at the upper part of the marketing funnel to drive awareness. But if you have, say, the top cardiology department in the city or state where you’re located, how do you ensure that if somebody has a heart condition they opt for you and not some other health system, particularly if you’re in a competitive market?

If you haven’t maximized that local piece, you’ve wasted the money you spent at the top of your funnel to help people find the right doctor, the right service line and even the right system. You could lose that patient to another health system that has a much more robust local presence.

Do you find that physicians, practices and hospitals are aware of the importance of their brand from a marketing perspective?

Carrie: Yes. When we talk to marketing teams, that’s one of their biggest objectives. They recognize that their brand is not just the name of the health system. It’s every interaction that somebody has with the system – from finding the right phone number on Google to making an appointment to having a positive administrative experience at check-in. The appointment could go smoothly and the physician might exceed their expectations, but the patient is likely to write about all of the other touch points in their post-care online review.

I’ve visited with 75 different health systems in the past six months, and location data management is a big challenge across the board. Many providers don’t understand how to get control of their online reviews, physician information and physical location data. They may have recruited a top-performing physician from a competing health system, but internet searches still have him affiliated with the previous system. Together, Yext and Binary Fountain help solve a lot of those important brand issues.

From the patient’s perspective, they have the right information at their fingertips to help them feel confident when they select the proper doctor to take care of themselves or a family member. From the hospital’s or health system’s perspective – the marketing, patient experience and IT professionals – knowing that their online data is accurate allows them to focus on their jobs, build more programs and attract more healthcare consumers.

Thank you, Carrie!

Carrie Liken Carrie Liken joined Yext from Google, where she spent 8.5 years on the healthcare team. She holds a degree in public policy and political science from Duke University and a Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she focused on health policy.

 

 

If you have questions about Reputation Management and what it can do for your organization, contact us to learn more.

About the Author

George LaDue
Sales Director

George helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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December 29, 2016

The Journey to Transparency: Overcoming the Challenges of Transparency Q&A

By: Zargham Ghani

In our last Journey to Transparency blog post, we spoke with two of our Binary Fountain experts, Senior Onboarding Specialist Carrie Gardner and Senior Account Manager Kait Phillips, about what they’re seeing in the marketplace firsthand and why some healthcare organizations have been slow to adopt transparency. In Part II, Carrie and Kait take us a little…

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In our last Journey to Transparency blog post, we spoke with two of our Binary Fountain experts, Senior Onboarding Specialist Carrie Gardner and Senior Account Manager Kait Phillips, about what they’re seeing in the marketplace firsthand and why some healthcare organizations have been slow to adopt transparency.

In Part II, Carrie and Kait take us a little deeper into the process and tell us just how to overcome the challenges of transparency. They also give us the best practices for implementing and managing a transparency solution such as Binary Fountain’s Binary Star Ratings.

Q: What are the best practices for publishing patient comments on the organization’s website?

Carrie Gardner: We definitely recommend for clients to openly display comments. Now and then we’ll speak to a client who thinks that they only want to show ratings on their provider pages, but it is certainly more valuable to the consumer to see the comments and ratings.

We suggest providing some information about where the ratings and comments are coming from and noting that the organization is committed to full transparency. We also have some defaults and recommendations around comments per page for page load performance. We typically suggest 20 comments per page, so that the page doesn’t fail to load due to time-out issues. However, the overall style and set up of the webpages is really up to the client and their personal preference.

Q. Say a practice has a large amount of survey data. What are the best practices for reviewing and managing that data? 

CG: Well, the initial review period can take some time. Generally speaking, if it’s a large organization with a lot of data, and they’re utilizing the centralized model with two or three people at most reviewing the comments, they can still get through their historical data within a month. Going forward, we receive data from most survey providers at least monthly, if not more frequently. After the initial review of historical data, it’s best to go in and review new comments on a monthly basis.

It can sound daunting at first, but once we’ve discussed the review method and the organization has set up a review process, people generally feel a lot more comfortable with it. It’s really not as time consuming as one might think!

Q. What advice would you give someone who is looking to adopt transparency? How should they prepare? 

Kait Phillips: Be prepared to sift through a substantial amount of historical survey data in preparation for going live. I recommend doing a soft launch to give doctors a chance to see what will be published online and also to reassure them that most of the feedback is usually positive. A soft launch enables all the active providers access to the tool itself, allowing them to go in at a read-only level in order to see what kind of comments and ratings are being imported.

In addition, we suggest following best practice guidelines for comment approval criteria – which messages will be approved and which won’t. A transparent policy will prevent confusion and will usually assuage any apprehension on behalf of the physicians.

Q. What are some of the pitfalls you often see clients running into? 

KP: The biggest pitfall I’ve seen clients run into is trying to get around transparency. We always take the time to educate new clients on our best practices and recommendations up front, but some do decide to implement their own guidelines concerning comments. However, the star ratings will always go through and can’t be edited. It is very rare for any client to completely reject all comments that are negative as long as they are not offensive or inappropriate.

Q. What is the best approach you have seen by a client when implementing transparency?

CG: Usually the smoothest implementations are with clients that have already been engaging with their providers about the initiative. For example, one new client I’ve been speaking with started sending providers a report of their ratings and comments using the Press Ganey reporting tool. They’re involving their providers ahead of going live on their external site, which is always a more successful approach. As a result, their implementation process has been smoother.

Another thing I’ve seen is clients that understand that there are different roles people in their organization need to play in implementing transparency and that they need a certain amount of time to commit to it. When there is one person who really drives the initiative and makes it known to the people who are going to be taking on a lot of the implementation tasks, everything tends to run a lot smoother. And when those people feel invested in the initiative and have the time to accommodate it, it’s definitely going to be a more successful approach, as opposed to someone just trying to wing it or do it with limited time.

Q. Who in each organization needs to be involved to make sure this initiative is successful?

KP: The web developer implements the stars and places them in the correct place on the site while the heads of the digital marketing team are usually the main points of contact on the client side.

CG: Patient experience groups are also involved. There might also be a main provider champion who is often a part of the review committee as well. However, most often it is a Director of Clinical Data, Director of Patient Experience or a Digital Marketing Director that is heavily involved on the client side. On the call, we also need whoever will be responsible for implementing the ratings and comments on their provider pages, or their web services contact.

Q. What are the best practices for displaying star ratings? How do your clients calculate star ratings?

CG: Star ratings are calculated by taking the mean average of a set number of questions. In terms of the questions that are used for that average, the best practice is to use those that are specific to the care provider. Depending on the survey, those questions will be different, but in general there’s a care provider section or there are specific CG-CAHPS queries related to each care provider. So, we recommend always using a mean average of the questions in the survey that are specific to the physician such as their communication style, bedside manner, etc.

In terms of visual display, the most common approach is to show the average individual rating of the care provider with patient ratings listed below. The second most common method offers a little more. It also displays the overall rating and comments with individual ratings, but it displays an average of the individual questions that make up that overall rating, too.

Q. What is the baseline number of reviews a physician should have before ratings are displayed next to their profile and why?

CG: We always recommend a minimum of 30 ratings over 365 days for our clients. The default is 30 ratings, but this is configurable in the system. We recommend a minimum of 30 ratings because that number has been shown to be statistically relevant. It’s generally a magic number where you won’t see as much movement in the star ratings overtime. For example, if you were only displaying about 20 ratings and comments and you received one awful survey, it could greatly impact the overall rating on your page. However, if you’re using the minimum of 30 ratings, one additional negative survey is not as likely to have a great sway in your overall valuation.

Transparency is vital for both healthcare providers and consumers. It helps build trust with prospective patients, improve acquisition and strengthen brand image. It is an essential step to create a better consumer and patient experience.

Binary Star Ratings, helps healthcare organizations leverage existing surveys and turn responses into reviews and ratings for publishing onto online physician directory pages, helping clients demonstrate their commitment to transparency.

Got questions for Carrie and Kait? Send your questions to marketing@binaryfountain.com.

About the Author

Zargham Ghani
Engagement Manager

Zargham help healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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December 27, 2016

Reputation Management: From the Marketing Department to the C-Suite, Part II

By: Brian Williams

In our recent blog about the webinar, “Reputation Management: From the Marketing Department to the C-Suite, Part I,” we learned about organizational approaches and best practices in managing a reputation management program from three VPs of Marketing: Mike Dame, VP of Marketing and Communications at Carilion Clinic; Kate Slonaker, VP of Marketing at Privia Health; and Richard Palumbo,…

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In our recent blog about the webinar, “Reputation Management: From the Marketing Department to the C-Suite, Part I,” we learned about organizational approaches and best practices in managing a reputation management program from three VPs of Marketing: Mike Dame, VP of Marketing and Communications at Carilion Clinic; Kate Slonaker, VP of Marketing at Privia Health; and Richard Palumbo, VP of Marketing at AMSURG.

This week, we’ll share their lessons learned in what it takes to get physicians and executive leaders fully engaged in reputation management. As it turns out, data is the key. Here’s what you can learn:

Physician Engagement: Data is the Power that Fuels Change

From a marketing perspective, physicians can resist change. Focused on patient care, contracts, billing, emerging technologies and EMR challenges, physician practices have their hands full. In this webinar, 35% of the audience participating reported not having any kind of reputation management program in place.

Doctors are motivated by results and data. Gaining visibility into patient experience data – a factor that affects their practices – can grab their attention. Monthly reports are recommended to help providers and practice managers make better-informed decisions on what actions are needed to improve operations. Physicians are also highly competitive. More physicians are starting to request benchmark reports so they can see where they rank among their colleagues.

During the webinar, Richard described needing a way to gain insights into every step of the healthcare continuum for its 255 ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs): from identification of care needed, initial doctor visit and validation of additional steps, to day-of-care, post-care follow-up and patient satisfaction surveying.

“We knew that if we could gain insight into the collective score of both the physician and the facility where they practice,” Richard explained, “then we could cultivate a plan for continuous improvement based on actual patient experience and outcomes.” AMSURG partners with and employs over 6,500 physicians and other healthcare professionals.

As a patient- and care-centric organization, AMSURG focuses on care issues, people issues and physical concerns. For instance, if a new patient isn’t treated warmly and professionally at check-in, there’s no convenient parking or the waiting room is cluttered and uninviting, that patient’s perception of care will most likely suffer.

AMSURG is using Binary Health Analytics to provide its executives with a detailed view into all areas of the patient experience, including bedside manner, communication, wait time, access and more. Potential issues or areas for improvement are immediately flagged and forwarded to each practice manager for service recovery.

Don’t Forget Executive Support and Organizational Adoption

Carilion Clinic has established reputation management as a core component of their strategic marketing plan. Transitioning from a hospital system to a physician-led, clinic model with integrated healthcare delivery to better serve a patient population of nearly one million, Carilion realized early on that achieving executive buy-in is critical to any successful strategic plan.

Carilion’s C-level executives, including the CEO and CMO, place a high value on communication and have instilled a commitment to open, transparent dialogue throughout the Carilion culture. As active communicators, they are focused on listening to patients and engaging in two-way conversations, protecting and championing their brand and telling their story through digital media. As Mike said, “If we don’t tell our story, someone else will.”

Have questions about reputation management and what it can do for your organization? Contact us to learn more.

About the Author

Brian Williams
Engagement Manager

Brian helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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December 22, 2016

Journey to Transparency: Healthcare Marketplace Observations Q&A

By: Zargham Ghani

Patients are online more than ever, using patient feedback from rating and review sites to choose their provider. Recognizing this trend, many healthcare organizations are starting to publish ratings and comments on their individual providers’ web pages. What’s setting these organizations apart is how they’re taking authentic and verified feedback from targeted and sometimes mandated…

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Patients are online more than ever, using patient feedback from rating and review sites to choose their provider. Recognizing this trend, many healthcare organizations are starting to publish ratings and comments on their individual providers’ web pages. What’s setting these organizations apart is how they’re taking authentic and verified feedback from targeted and sometimes mandated patient surveys and sharing those insights in a transparent manner.

We recently spoke to Carrie Gardner and Kait Phillips from the Binary Fountain Customer Success teams, who’ve guided clients through implementing and managing our transparency solution, Binary Star Ratings, about what they’re seeing in the marketplace firsthand and the concerns healthcare organizations have about adopting transparency.

Q. Why do you think hospitals are adopting transparency? 

Kait Phillips: Many of us have been there as a patient; we come down with a symptom and start our research online for a provider who can help. Our health is so personal and choosing a provider is one of the most important health decisions we can make. We are looking for information we can trust when selecting a provider. Hospitals are striving to be that trusted voice in the provider selection process. It’s a great opportunity for them on so many levels. They already have a great source for ratings and reviews – their patient experience surveys. It’s a wealth of feedback about their providers. Typically, its way more feedback than you’d see on sites like Yelp, Vitals and other similar sources. What’s great about the feedback is the survey data comes from verified patients and many provide detailed comments on their patient experience. That’s one of the concerns physicians had about third party rating sites: “Was that review really from a patient of mine?” What makes this transparent for the healthcare consumer, is hospitals are publishing all patient survey ratings and comments, with a couple reasonable caveats such as not publishing PHI or libelous comments. This circles back to what patients want: health information and a provider they can trust.

And from a competition standpoint and a branding standpoint, implementing a transparency solution can give them an advantage against other hospitals and practices in their market. Think of it this way: patients are going to shop like they do for other consumer services. Why not offer something that can influence their decision making – information they can trust.

Carrie Gardner: I agree with Kait. And to add on to what she said, I think that outside of generally trying to promote transparency with reviews and ratings, hospitals are also trying to improve operational performance.

I often hear from clients that they’re interested in getting their providers to be a little bit more involved with the comments that they’re seeing on surveys and the subsequent ratings from them. Now that ratings and comments are available on provider’s pages, it gives them an incentive to improve things like communication styles or bedside manner. So I think, organizationally, it’s about using transparency to increase traffic to particular providers, increase brand awareness as well as to increase accountability concerning patient experience measures.

Q. What are the challenges to adopting transparency? 

KP: Provider buy-in is certainly one of the top concerns for healthcare organizations. Some physicians are resistant to transparency at first, typically because they are worried about receiving negative scores and the impact that can have. They are generally unaware of the overall positive feedback they get from patient surveys so they are understandably anxious about what is going to be said about them. Physicians can also be very competitive—they all want a 5.0 star rating (though it’s actually better to have a 4.5 rating!). These were the A+ students in school who are very driven individuals. They are very confident in their abilities as physicians!

CG: I definitely agree that negative comments are the biggest concern. I would also add that there are often questions and concerns around establishing physician input so they can see, and if needed appeal, patient comments. Sometimes prospective clients just need a little more assurance that they’ll be able to review comments before they’re published. The appeals committee typically reviews comments and works with physicians to determine whether comments are suitable for publishing. Comments that contain profanity or libel, for instance, are either redacted or not published at all.

Time and resources are another worry. Organizations are concerned about internal resources and processes such as defining who is going to have the bandwidth to monitor the reviews and comments. Overall, planning and the set-up of the appeals committee are big concerns. The good news is it’s very manageable. We’re there to provide direction and guidance. We have many clients who’ve done it the right way and made it work well.

Q. When a physician isn’t sold on transparency, what’s the best way to get them onboard?

KP: In order to get physicians on board, it’s important to have an executive level sponsor to help push the initiative along and develop an internal appeals committee for the program as well as to clearly explain the appeals process. This committee is important for helping physicians feel as though they have a voice in the process.

For example, if there is a comment that is approved that the doctor doesn’t agree with or believes to be untrue, the appeals committee will review the doctor’s notes on the comment and then decide if they will either accept or reject the appeal.

The other approach is sharing survey feedback with physicians ahead of them and even showing them sample scores. Physicians often end up discovering that they have much better scores and comments from the surveys compared to third party rating and review sites. It’s a motivating factor for them to have this information posted on their provider webpages.

CG: Another way to encourage physicians to adopt a transparency solution is to show them what the solution actually looks like before it’s live. One way to do this is by having the marketing or patient experience group run reports from the system and send them to the providers. They would likely examine a trailing 12-month period to show them what their ratings look like on provider pages and which comments have been approved.

Another option could be to host ratings and comments on an internal facing site before going live. And the last option could be to allow all the active providers access to the tool itself, allowing them to go in at a read-only level in order to see what the comments and ratings look like, which we call a “soft launch”.

The bottom line is that transparency is good for healthcare providers and consumers. It helps build trust with prospective patients, improve acquisition and strengthen brand image. It is an essential step to create a better consumer and patient experience.

About the Author

Zargham Ghani
Engagement Manager

Zargham help healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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December 20, 2016

Reputation Management: From the Marketing Department to the C-Suite, Part I

By: Brian Williams

In case you missed it, the Forum for Healthcare Strategists hosted a webinar, “Reputation Management: From the Marketing Department to the C-Suite.” Moderated by Karen Corrigan, CEO of Corrigan Partners, the webinar featured best practices and expert insights from three leading healthcare marketers on creating a successful Reputation Management strategy for healthcare systems, hospitals, physician groups…

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In case you missed it, the Forum for Healthcare Strategists hosted a webinar, “Reputation Management: From the Marketing Department to the C-Suite.” Moderated by Karen Corrigan, CEO of Corrigan Partners, the webinar featured best practices and expert insights from three leading healthcare marketers on creating a successful Reputation Management strategy for healthcare systems, hospitals, physician groups and practices.

We heard from Mike Dame, VP of Marketing and Communications at Carilion Clinic; Kate Slonaker, VP of Marketing at Privia Health; and Richard Palumbo, VP of Marketing at AMSURG. Mike, Kate and Richard each shared their organization’s marketing approach for building and managing positive online ratings and reviews, addressing service recovery, ensuring an exceptional patient experience and winning patient loyalty.

Where Are You in Your Reputation Management Journey?

The webinar kicked off with the audience being asked if Reputation Management is part of their marketing strategy. Only 35% said, “Yes, we’re using a Reputation Management solution” and another 30% responded, “Yes, but it’s a very manual process.” That left 35% without a Reputation Management game plan. If you’re unsure of your organization’s strategy, here are a few things you need to know:

Patient Engagement: Listening to Your Patients Really Matters

As informed healthcare consumers, patients know they have choices when it comes to selecting the right primary care physician, specialist or inpatient or outpatient facility. More and more, there’s no such thing as the “family doctor.” That’s where online ratings and reviews come into play. As Kate from Privia commented, “We all know how to find the best hamburger, but we don’t always know how to find the best doctor.”

Mike from Carilion Clinic warned audience participants, “If you don’t have strong online ratings and reviews, and you’re not listening to what your patients are saying about you, then you’re really missing a key part of the marketing mix. Reputation matters more in healthcare than in any other industry.”

He added that 88% of healthcare consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation, and 94% of consumers choosing a healthcare facility say reputation is important.

What’s Your Digital Word of Mouth?

Applying her background in hospitality to the healthcare industry, Kate told the audience that physicians today are in a similar situation that hotels in the early 2000s found themselves: relying more and more on “digital word of mouth” to tell their story, attract new customers and keep their most valued guests coming back every year.

Your reputation on digital platforms such as RateMDs.com, Zocdoc, Yelp, Healthgrades, and even Twitter, Facebook and Google is critical today. But how are overworked, overextended practices and physicians supposed to keep an eye on everything being written about them while caring for patients and collecting reimbursement?

Managing approximately four million patients, Privia Health is a national medical group and clinically integrated network that partners with payers, and uses technology and population health management to reward independent practices for improving outcomes and reducing costs. Kate explained that Privia removes many of the administrative burdens that independent practices face with Reputation Management and, in turn, helps them:

• Acquire new patient volume and loyalty
• Engage patients in their care and increase satisfaction
• Preserve and protect their practice’s unique brand
• Maintain and grow revenue

Next week, we’ll talk about physician and executive engagement, analytics and the value of data. Look for “Reputation Management: From the Marketing Department to the C-Suite, Part II” on December 27, 2016.

Have questions about Reputation Management and what it can do for your organization? Contact us to learn more.

About the Author

Brian Williams
Engagement Manager

Brian helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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December 02, 2016

Patient Experience’s Impact on Revenue

By: Sabrina Egan

Patients are consumers – they have similar customer service expectations as they would for other industries. When it comes to selecting a physician, someone who they entrust with their health, the patient experience delivered is key – and it starts online. Ignoring your online patient reviews evokes the same feeling as hanging up on someone during…

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Patients are consumers – they have similar customer service expectations as they would for other industries. When it comes to selecting a physician, someone who they entrust with their health, the patient experience delivered is key – and it starts online. Ignoring your online patient reviews evokes the same feeling as hanging up on someone during a customer support call. Healthcare providers must take this into account when deciding on a strategy to improve the patient experience and ultimately impact revenue.

Patient Experience= Revenue.

Organizations providing “superior” patient experience achieve net margins 50 percent higher than those providing “average” patient experience. This makes it vital for organizations to evaluate the entire continuum of the patient experience.

Healthcare as a service industry proves that focusing on patient experience can increase profitability and prevent the need to cut costs. Organizations earning $2 billion in revenue can achieve a 2.3 percent margin benefit by improving patient experience, which is the same benefit organizations would see if they were to cut 460 jobs.

Ratings from patient surveys like HCAHPS also impact revenue. Hospitals with higher patient ratings saw a net margin of 4.7 percent compared to hospitals with poor ratings seeing just 1.8 percent net margin. Without a culture of putting patients first, hospitals will not meet their HCAHPS or revenue goals.

The Value of Patient Loyalty.

Improving patient loyalty and decreasing patient churn can significantly increase an organization’s revenue. Increasing retention rates by 5 percent can increase profits by twenty-five to ninety-five percent. It is also more cost effective to focus on loyalty – patient acquisition efforts cost five times more than efforts to secure existing patients.

How to Create a Profitable Experience.

  • Create a culture around patient experience. To improve patient experience, create a patient-centric culture, focusing on principles of compassion, service quality and excellent patient experience. Organizations should provide their staff with the tools and communication strategies needed to create standardized best practices that become part of the fabric of how they provide care every day.
  • Adopt new strategies. As new trends continuously evolve in healthcare, make sure your organization stays on top by finding new, more effective ways to address your patients’ needs using new technologies that go beyond the traditional care.
  • Listen and engage your patients. Improve service recovery by listening and quickly responding to patient concerns. Immediate resolution to a patient’s negative experience can potentially change a patient’s mind about whether to return to your practice.
  • Analyze and report patient feedback. Use patient feedback data to identify trends within your organization that can help pinpoint areas of improvement. Share feedback with department heads and teams, so they know what’s going well and what needs to be addressed.
  • Drive patient acquisition. Leverage your patient survey data by publishing patient verified reviews and comments onto your organization’s physician profile pages. This will improve SEO ranking and drive more traffic to your website over third-party review sites.

Implementing a strategy to improve patient loyalty and satisfaction will ultimately drive your organization’s growth and revenue.

To learn how industry leaders are creating a profitable patient experience for their organization, contact us today.

About the Author

Sabrina Egan
Engagement Manager

Sabrina helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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