Medical Group of the Carolinas, part of the Spartanburg Regional Health System, has 96 practice locations and 330 physicians throughout western South Carolina and North Carolina. In 2014, they initiated a pilot project with Binary Fountain to boost its online reputation management and patient experience programs in five of its practice locations, and then went live throughout the entire system in 2015.
Recently, we spoke with Mary Reid, RN, Senior Physician Development Consultant, Marketing, and Susie Woodward, Physician Development Director at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System about how they manage online ratings, reviews and survey feedback to impact and improve the patient experience. Mary just came back from presenting at the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit on “Impacting Patient Experience with Online Feedback.”
Can you give us some background on how you identified the need for an online reputation management initiative?
Looking at the big picture, patient experience is one of our healthcare system’s top priorities, and marketing has a role in it. For this initiative, the initial impetus came from CMS and the need to assess patient experience through the CAHPS® Clinician & Group Surveys (CG-CAHPS). As you know, these survey results can provide great insight into the patient experience, and show us where we can improve care as providers, physician practices and medical groups. Also, survey data can equip consumers with information they can use to choose the provider or practice that’s right for them.
We also discovered a wealth of online patient reviews about our physicians. We quickly realized that we needed a way to monitor and respond to patient comments, and help our physicians manage their online reputations and profile pages. That job was much bigger than our internal team had the capacity to manage effectively, so we needed a more comprehensive strategy.
What steps did you take to get this initiative going?
Because this was such a big challenge, we knew we needed to engage our C-level executives and physician leadership to gain support and buy-in for our patient experience strategy. We secured a physician champion who recognized the importance of this program, and he helped coordinate and launch our pilot project. With his support, we were able to roll out our program throughout the entire Spartanburg Regional Health System. He really has been vital to our success.
Describe for us how the online reputation management program was managed, and how it supports improvements to the patient experience.
Marketing was involved in all aspects of the program. We took a holistic approach using Binary Health Analytics to capture, analyze and engage with online feedback and surveys. We worked with the physician practices to manage the survey process, which were completed by patients during check out using iPads. We kept the survey brief with questions reflecting CG-CAHPS measures. This approach has been effective as we’re getting a 33% completion rate and it’s helping us quickly capture feedback that we can promptly act on.
After we implemented the Binary Fountain platform throughout our system, we began receiving reports that help us identify and track trends in patient experience. That data is tremendously useful in seeing what’s working well and, just as important, which areas need more attention. We also received alerts when we had a patient experience feedback score 2.5 or below. That’s when we proactively worked with a customer service team to engage with the patient and resolve their issue promptly. We take a lot of pride in delivering a great patient experience. Overall, the health system maintains a 4.8-out-of-5 patient experience score.
Here at Spartanburg Regional, our Physician Relations department resides inside of Marketing, and we spend a lot of time orienting new physicians on reputation management and their impact on the patient experience. We monitor physician pages on third-party sites such as Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMD and UCompareHealthCare, as well as what patients are posting on our social media channels. If physicians are concerned about their online ratings or comments, we can help them take steps to address patient complaints, learn from what’s being said about them and encourage positive feedback.
Online ratings and reviews are a big part of healthcare consumerism, and it helps us improve the care we provide while preserving and promoting the online reputation of our physicians. This initiative allows us to dig deeper into those practices that are consistently ranking high in patient experience scores, so we can standardize their best practices across the entire system.
For instance, if one practice is alleviating patient frustration around wait times by performing regular rounding in the waiting room, we can share that success with all practices. Finally, the insights we gain through patient feedback and online reputation management help us reinforce the work of our dedicated physicians and reduce signs of burnout.
Want to make sure that your online reputation management strategy is designed for success? Contact Binary Fountain today to schedule a personalized demonstration of our reputation management platform.
About the Author
Brian helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.