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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: Kayla Zamary

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

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

Kayla Zamary
Marketing Manager

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December 02, 2016

Patient Experience’s Impact on Revenue

By: Kayla Zamary

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

Kayla Zamary
Marketing Manager

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November 17, 2016

Leveraging Online Presence to Improve Patient Acquisition and Loyalty

By: George LaDue

The emergence of online review and rating sites has changed the way patients select their provider. Seventy-seven percent of patients use online reviews as their determining factor for selecting a provider – making it vital for healthcare organizations to manage their providers’ online presence. This is having significant impact on patient volume as online presence…

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The emergence of online review and rating sites has changed the way patients select their provider. Seventy-seven percent of patients use online reviews as their determining factor for selecting a provider – making it vital for healthcare organizations to manage their providers’ online presence. This is having significant impact on patient volume as online presence and patient acquisition go hand in hand. Organizations need to develop digital strategies to influence behavior that affects the entire patient journey – from awareness and selection, to loyalty and retention.

In order to leverage your organization’s online presence to drive patient acquisition and retention, you will need to manage your online presence and optimize your search engine results to ensure patients are selecting your providers.

Manage Online Presence
Patients select providers based on positive reviews – ninety-four percent will choose a similarly qualified provider over another based on positive reviews. To ensure your providers are well represented online, organizations are sending post-care email campaigns to drive patients with positive survey feedback to post their review on third-party review sites. According to a survey by Software Advice, ensuring your providers are well represented online is crucial due to the fact that one provider’s poor review can lower your organization’s overall star rating and potentially damage your organization’s online presence.

It is also crucial that organizations respond to both positive and negative reviews – sixty percent of patients believe it is important for organizations to post a response to a negative review. In order to ensure all negative reviews receive attention, organizations are using patient experience tools to efficiently monitor and respond to negative patient feedback. By responding to a patient’s negative experience, other potential patients will see that even though the patient had a bad experience, you were able to provide them with resolution. This could turn a dissatisfied patient into a brand ambassador.

Optimize Search Engine Results
Organizations and providers with more favorable reviews are displayed at the top of search results, which is significant given that fewer than ten percent of patients go beyond the first page of search results. Optimizing your search engine results provides a better opportunity of acquiring new patients through generic search results – seventy-two percent of patients use search engines prior to booking an appointment with a provider.

In order to be at the top of search engine results, organizations are leveraging their patient verified survey data by publishing feedback to their provider profile pages. This practice not only improves your organization’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but also helps earn patient trust with twenty-seven percent trusting reviews only if they are authentic.

Publishing your organization’s survey data will provide potential patients with more credible reviews that can help inform and guide their decision-making process when selecting a provider.

Implementing these digital strategies will help drive your organization’s patient acquisition and retention as well as improve your patients’ overall experience in today’s highly competitive healthcare industry.

To learn how leading healthcare organizations are improving patient acquisition, watch our webinar, “Journey to Excellence: Online healthcare reputation management” or schedule a demo at www.binaryfountain.com.

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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November 15, 2016

Using Patient Experience Surveys to Gain Competitive Advantage

By: Kayla Zamary

Physicians’ offices and healthcare facilities nationwide are now seeing patient experience as a source of differentiation, and are catching up with advances and processes on how to manage it. A recent Practice Operations Survey, “Medical practices to duke it out on access, patient experience,” by MGMA covering about 800 practices nationwide stated that physicians are…

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Physicians’ offices and healthcare facilities nationwide are now seeing patient experience as a source of differentiation, and are catching up with advances and processes on how to manage it. A recent Practice Operations Survey, “Medical practices to duke it out on access, patient experience,” by MGMA covering about 800 practices nationwide stated that physicians are in fact largely beginning to devote more effort to knowing their patients and understanding the patient experiences to identify areas of improvements. For instance, 61 percent of respondents had taken action to reduce wait time, reducing the median wait times to between 10 and 15 minutes.

Another study published in the Journal of Medical Practice Management found that most complaints about healthcare practices ranged from doctors’ bedside manners to billing problems to indifferent staff. Overall, the unhappiest patients cited communications problems.

All of these trends, coupled with value-based care and increasingly consumerized patient expectations, are gradually influencing healthcare organizations to be more focused on patients’ perception of care. And with the growing number of ways to receive healthcare, it is crucial that healthcare practices focus on the patient experience to stay competitive.

Utilizing Patient Experience Surveys to Take You to the Top

We’re seeing more practices adopting digital surveys to collect patient feedback. This has been giving them a time-saving way to quickly analyze trends and comments and promptly respond to issues that need to be addressed. With digital surveys today, practices can capture significantly more meaningful feedback and implement those insights to improve their practice and increase ROI. Responsiveness to feedback and improvements made can even affect future online reviews.

Best Practices for Patient Experience Surveys

Whether or not your practice uses CG-CAHPS, the questions asked – and what you do with the results – are vital. Organizations like Fairfax Radiology Consultants exemplify a solid approach to making surveys work for them. Here are four quick steps to help you get the most out of your patient experience surveys:

  • Keep surveys concise and promptly offer post care to improve response rates. Set expectations up front that completing it won’t take them long. Provide the survey either at checkout via iPad or send via email within 2 days.
  • Be ready to promptly respond; Immediate Service Recovery is another essential aspect of onsite and online surveys. It allows your practice to respond quickly to bad feedback, which further promotes customer satisfaction and transparency. An immediate action can turn a negative experience into a positive.
  • Be sure to encourage comments to capture insights. Getting rated on a scale of 1-10 is useful, but comments will provide you some of the most useful insights to your practice.
  • Use result to foster a patient experience-centered culture and higher staff engagement. Reward employees recognized for receiving feedback from patients.

Patients are becoming increasingly vocal about their experience and have more choices when it comes to providers. Take advantage of this opportunity to listen, analyze and act on their feedback. Your competing practices probably will.

Want to learn more about how digital patient surveys can help improve patient experience?

Watch the Binary Fountain webinar “How Spartanburg Healthcare’s Marketing Team is Impacting the Patient Experience,” or schedule a demo.

About the Author

Kayla Zamary
Marketing Manager

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November 11, 2016

5 Best Practices for Engaging Patients Online

By: Zargham Ghani

The healthcare industry has seen a major shift from being provider driven to patient driven. Patients are treating healthcare like any other service they can buy, and many look to online reviews to gather more information before selecting new providers. As many as 8 in 10 patients consult physician reviews before selecting a healthcare provider,…

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The healthcare industry has seen a major shift from being provider driven to patient driven. Patients are treating healthcare like any other service they can buy, and many look to online reviews to gather more information before selecting new providers. As many as 8 in 10 patients consult physician reviews before selecting a healthcare provider, making it vital for healthcare organizations to not only monitor what’s being said, but to participate in the conversation as well.

Patient reviews can provide a wealth of information for providers, too. Engaging with reviewers’ concerns and issues can help practices and hospitals create true opportunities for online service recovery while communicating that patient experience is a top priority.

By following these five best practices for engaging patients online, you can help impact patient loyalty and ensure your providers’ reputations are better monitored and managed.

1. Establish a patient review response system. This should include everything from response timelines to who should be managing responses. Most often, this falls under your organization’s social media policy, which sets forth guidelines on tone, language and the like to ensure that those handling reviews and responses, especially via highly visible social media channels, are using the same “voice.” Having a written policy helps prevent staff members from not appropriately addressing the concerns posted in negative views and ensuring responses are in compliance with HIPAA and other healthcare industry regulations.

It’s also a good practice to draft scripted responses for common issues that arise in multiple review, such as comments about wait time. You can add some customization, using templates helps to speed up engagement response time.

For a final check before a comment is publicly posted, consider setting up an approval system. Individuals who are closer to the issue can draft a response, but a marketing team member, for example, can give final sign off before the review is released.

2. Set a threshold for which patient reviews you want to respond to. Some organizations might consider a 3-star review a marginal review; others, a 2.8-star review. It’s important to set a baseline so your team is not wasting time discussing which warrants a response every single day.

Implementing a patient experience platform can help you streamline this process by flagging any reviews that need attention and response, either based on the sentiment or flagged keywords (e.g. malpractice, lawsuit). Knowing where there are opportunities to improve are critical for any healthcare organization. Getting to the root cause of smaller issues can help them from spiraling into larger problems.

3. Address issues in a timely manner. There is no way to “bury” or delete negative reviews – in fact, you should embrace them and learn from them. Ignoring negative comments or patient reviews only allows frustration to build. Responding quickly and working to resolve the underlying problem can reflect positively on your healthcare organization – and influence the patient to change their review to a positive one. If the issue is an operational issue, such as the lack of large hospital gowns, survey your patients after making corrections to see if the issue is resolved.

4. Know when to take a conversation offline. Some patient complaints are best dealt with privately, either because of the sensitivity of the issue or because the problem needs to be escalated to a patient advocacy group. Always keep in mind that people want to be heard and receive authentic responses from someone who can fix the situation. A patient experience platform helps you streamline this process by notifying you when new reviews arrive in the system, ensuring that the most serious issues are resolved more quickly.

5. Be proactive in requesting reviews. To offset lower ratings, proactively ask patients for reviews. Be sure you know the rules around suggestions versus solicitation. You can suggest the patient leave a review in many ways and at different points in the relationship. For example, you can gauge the patient’s experience, and then ask them to share their experience online. Or, if you have an online patient portal, you can add an online review link or embed in an appointment reminder email—the opportunities are endless. This can dramatically increase the number of completed surveys and raise your average ratings.

As patients continue to embrace their roles as consumers and seek out reviews before selecting providers, it becomes even more important for healthcare organizations to engage with patients online. Timely, authentic responses not only convey that patient experience is a top priority, they also help practices and facilities uncover opportunities for improvement and create a dialog with patients. These best practices all contribute to the overarching strategy of keeping patients happy, which is a win-win for everyone.

 

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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