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:
- Does he or she accept my insurance?
- Are he or she located near me?
- Does he or she have the relevant expertise to treat my condition?
- 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 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.
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About the Author
George helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.