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June 17, 2020

4 Use Cases for Natural Language Processing (NLP) in Healthcare

By: Kieran McQuilkin

Healthcare organizations have more access than ever to data-driven technology that can improve healthcare outcomes and drive business opportunities. It’s not easy for these enterprise systems to harness the trillions of gigabytes of health data and web content, but Natural Language Processing (NLP) in healthcare is a promising part of the solution. As the digitization of healthcare continues, the industry is also looking to…

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nlp-in-healthcareHealthcare organizations have more access than ever to data-driven technology that can improve healthcare outcomes and drive business opportunities. It’s not easy for these enterprise systems to harness the trillions of gigabytes of health data and web content, but Natural Language Processing (NLP) in healthcare is a promising part of the solution.

As the digitization of healthcare continues, the industry is also looking to make better use of unstructured data. NLP describes the ways in which artificial intelligence systems gather and analyze unstructured data from human language to extract patterns, uncover meaning and formulate responses.  In other words, NLP attempts to get to the heart of language formation and use that understanding to automate and improve human processes.

Leveraged properly, the technology enables providers to automate administrative workflows, invest more time in patient care and improve patient experience using real-time data.

In this article, we will cover the most beneficial uses of NLP for healthcare companies, including benchmarking patient experience, review management and sentiment analysis, dictation and EMR implications and predictive analytics.

Here are some of the top use cases for NLP technology in healthcare:

1. Patient Experience and Value-Based Care

The unstructured clinical record and the patient feedback that comes after a visit contain insights into the patient experience that aren’t available in the structured record. NLP technology can identify these gaps by pulling key words and phrases from free text that will inform care decisions and benchmark the patient experience across physicians and locations.

This type of data mining in healthcare, made possible by NLP, can help reduce subjectivity in decision-making and help organizations deliver better, more efficient care to patients.

Meanwhile, the shift to value-based reimbursement means healthcare organizations need to measure provider performance and identify gaps in care for reporting to payers and regulators.

The value-based care model incentivizes both providers and payers to demonstrate positive patient outcomes after leaving the clinical setting. Data-rich health systems are now using natural language processing to analyze post-care survey feedback, online reviews, social media posts, and many other sources of unstructured text. These insights are key to identifying positive and negative patient experience factors that, if optimized or improved, will lead to higher CAHPS scores and provider ratings.

Use Case:

French research group developed an NLP-based algorithm that would help monitor, detect and prevent hospital acquired infections. It made sense of unstructured data from clinical notes and patient feedback, and used those insights to identify early signs of infections and notify clinicians.

2. Review Management and Sentiment Analysis

In addition to patient experience improvements, NLP can help healthcare organizations manage online reviews in a highly regulated industry.

Natural Language Processing technology can collect and analyze the thousands of healthcare reviews posted every day on third-party listings, finding protected health information (PHI), profanity or other content relevant to HIPAA compliance. It can also quickly analyze and evaluate human sentiment of unstructured comments, along with the context of how they are being used.

In this case study, learn how Temple University Health System leverages Binary Fountain’s NLP technology to analyze unstructured survey responses with an accuracy rate greater than 90%, turning qualitative data into quantitative business intelligence about patient experience.

Many healthcare systems also use text analytics to monitor the Voice of Consumer in reviews, so physicians understand how patients talk about their care and can better communicate using a shared vocabulary. Similarly, NLP systems can track consumer sentiment about your healthcare brand by pulling insights from positive and negative words or phrases within reviews or social media posts.

Use Case:

A Sant Baba Bhag Singh University study found that using sentiment analysis from social media data helped providers improve treatments by understanding how patients talk about their Type-1 and Type-2 Diabetes treatments, drugs and diet regiments.

3. Dictation and EMR Implications

An average EMR record runs between 50 and 150 MB per million records, and the average clinical note record is 150 times as large. To manage that administrative workflow, many physicians are replacing handwriting or typing with voice notes, which NLP tools can easily interpret and add to EMR systems.

This application of NLP allows physicians to automatically transcribe their conversation with patients, which means they can commit more time to improving the quality of care. But its implications go further.

Many of the clinical notes in EMRs are in unstructured form, but NLP offers a way to effectively, and automatically, interpret clinical notes. It can pull details from diagnostic reports and physicians’ letters, ensuring that all relevant information is uploaded to the patient health profile. For example, NLP systems could extract any notes in a patient’s electronic record that mention prescribed medications and if they were effective.

Use Case:

2018 study used NLP to process radiology reports looking for pulmonary embolism and postoperative venous thromboembolism, and found that unstructured data analysis identified 50% more cases than structured data alone.

4. Root Cause Analysis and Predictive Analytics

Another exciting, but more complex, benefit of NLP is how predictive analytics can solve population health problems.

Applying NLP to vast caches of electronic medical records can help identify subsets of geographic regions, ethnic groups or other population segments that face different types of health disparities. Existing administrative databases can’t analyze socio-cultural impacts on health at such a scale, but NLP could pave the way for further research.

NLP-healthcare-use-caseAn often-cited example of this NLP application for healthcare companies is its use for Kawasaki diseases, where delays in diagnosis can lead to critical complications. In a 2016 study, an NLP-based algorithm identified at-risk patients with a sensitivity of 93.6% and specificity of 77.5% compared to notes manually reviewed by clinicians.

At the same time, NLP can be used to analyze unstructured feedback and find the root cause of patients’ concerns or poor outcomes.

For example, healthcare-specific NLP can recognize phrases like “emailed us a video” as a positive sentiment concerning the topic of “Helping Patients Understand” within the “Provider” category. Monitoring long-term trends of sentiment surrounding topics in these categories, like “patient care,” “non-clinical staff” or “facilities,” can help organizations nail down the origins of negative patient experiences for providers or locations.

When patient experience personnel have a true understanding of a patient’s sentiment, they can conduct the appropriate outreach, perform service recovery and build a deeper relationship between the hospital and the patient.

Use Case:

2018 study used NLP to predict suicide attempts by monitoring social media, showing clear indicators of imminent suicide risk by Twitter users who changed their speech patterns on the platform in specific ways. The system’s prediction rate hit 70%, with just a 10% false positive rate.

NLP Made Specifically for Healthcare

Data-driven health systems looking to optimize patient experience, reduce costs and improve care outcomes should consider the myriad insights hidden in unstructured data. With a wealth of patient feedback available, it is imperative for healthcare providers to begin investing and implementing NLP-powered patient feedback management solutions to secure and ensure patient loyalty.

Natural Language Processing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so NLP systems in the healthcare industry need to understand the sublanguage used by medical professionals and by patients. Binary Fountain’s NLP-driven technology platform was built specifically for the healthcare industry, and can help your organization get the most from both real-time and historical feedback data.

Book a free demo to learn more.

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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June 16, 2020

What is Review Generation?

By: Kayla Zamary

Online review generation, as well as carefully curated review responses, should be a top concern for all digital marketers. Customer reviews and your responses could have a major impact on your business. Online reviews can either be a massive boon for your business or a huge turn off to potential customers. Consumers use online reviews…

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review-generationOnline review generation, as well as carefully curated review responses, should be a top concern for all digital marketers. Customer reviews and your responses could have a major impact on your business.

Online reviews can either be a massive boon for your business or a huge turn off to potential customers. Consumers use online reviews to do everything from finding a doctor in their city to buying a book on Amazon.

The quality and quantity of online reviews can also impact your local SEO search results. Search engines want to offer their users high-quality results, so they favor businesses with many positive reviews. Plus, having better reviews gives consumers a reason to trust your service or product over your competitors.

Review generation and management can help you stay a step ahead of your competition and dominate the search results. We’ll show you how to get more reviews and effectively manage them.

What is Review Generation?

Review generation is the process of getting more online reviews on your business listings’ review sites. This includes sites like Google and Facebook, among other industry-specific ones like Apartments.com and HealthGrades.

Different review sites have unique rules regarding the solicitation of reviews to ensure authenticity and fairness, so be sure you are following their best practices before asking customers for reviews.

Here are links to some of those guidelines:

Generally, platforms require reviewers to focus on the product or service offered by the business and follow their community standards.

How to Get More Reviews

ebook-guide-attracting-reviewsHere are a few strategies for getting more online reviews:

  • Ensure you have claimed and are managing all of your organization’s online listings for top review sites in your industry
  • Ask your customers to leave online reviews about their experiences to show that you care about their feedback
  • Add links on your website and other marketing channels to make sure your review sites are prominently shown
  • Send SMS messages asking for them to review your business
  • Ask for feedback with surveys on your website or in the office
  • Encourage customers to check-in to your locations on Facebook or other location-based social media platforms

Make sure you aren’t pushing your customers to only give positive reviews, as this can violate many review sites’ guidelines. You should always ask customers for their real opinions rather than what you hope they will say.

Google and Facebook track a user’s location in real-time and ask them to check-in or review the location visited. The service will then send them a notification up to 48 hours later asking how their experience was. If you can encourage your customers to check-in, you can get reviews without asking.

Turning Negative Reviews Into a Positive Asset

If you do get a positive review, thank the reviewer and make sure to encourage them to come again.

If you do get negative reviews, don’t panic! Responding to negative reviews the right way can potentially turn lemons into lemonade.

Just because you received a negative review doesn’t mean you can’t turn things around. A negative review, much like a survey, is an opportunity to learn from mistakes and improve your customer’s experience. In fact, review sites recommend being proactive in engaging with customers, especially to address negative comments.

Think about it from the consumer’s perspective—if a business is willing to take the time to apologize to an unhappy customer and tell them they will fix the problem, that should encourage that customer to come back and try the product or service again.

Review Generation Improves your Brand Reputation

In the digital age, perception is reality.

82% of consumers report reading online reviews for local businesses. That means that reviews are incredibly important for how people view your brand’s reputation.

If you run a healthcare clinic, people want to know that their doctor has a good bedside manner. Apartment hunters may be researching a property management company’s reputation before deciding to tour your property.

If you haven’t been proactive with your online reputation, there’s no time like the present to start.

Interested in learning more? Here are some other materials that may help:

Want to learn more about how Binary Fountain can give your online reputation a boost?

Schedule a Demo

 

About the Author

Kayla Zamary
Marketing Manager

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June 12, 2020

The True ROI of Reputation Management

By: Kayla Zamary

Socrates once said, “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” He wasn’t talking about the ROI of Reputation Management, but he could have been. Most top-performing professionals would agree: you have to walk the walk if you’re are going to talk the talk. The way…

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reputation-management-roiSocrates once said, “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” He wasn’t talking about the ROI of Reputation Management, but he could have been.

Most top-performing professionals would agree: you have to walk the walk if you’re are going to talk the talk. The way a business earns a good reputation is no different.

Striving to provide the best product or service while maintaining ethical standards is important for any growing business. Online reputation can make a world of difference in demonstrating your commitment to quality and separating yourself from your competition.

75% of respondents indicated that online reviews and ratings influence their choice of physician in Binary Fountain’s latest Healthcare Consumer Insight survey. Perception is reality in the mind of the consumer. Because of this, the importance of having a fantastic online image can’t be understated.

Are you interested in acquiring new customers, retaining your current ones, and growing your business? If so, you need to invest in online reputation management to ensure you know what is being said about your business online. Doing so will enable you to discover the actionable insights needed to maintain your customers’ happiness.

Monitoring your online reputation isn’t always easy, but it’s ultimately worth the investment regardless of what industry you are in.

The Cost of Online Reputation Management

Before you can measure the ROI of reputation management, you need to know the costs associated with starting a program. As a business owner, you don’t have unlimited resources. But you need to be willing to invest in the improvements necessary to make your business better.

If you decide that you are going to invest in reputation management, you have to commit to:

  • The hours and/or staff needed to monitor your star ratings/reviews
  • The necessary resources to improve what customers are complaining about
  • Tools and training that will help your team be more effective and efficient in their tasks

In the long run, however, those commitments will pay off. Customers will begin to notice the improvements you’ve made. Your online reviews will improve and attract new customers, who will leave new positive reviews and continue the cycle. A reputation management program is a long-term, compounding interest investment.

Now that you understand the costs and benefits, let’s move on to the ROIs of a reputation management program.

Sentiment and Reviews on Social Media

Social media is a tremendous opportunity for customers to research and discover businesses and brands.

Your business may not use social media often, your customers, and your potential customers do. Many are interested in finding a new product or service. This means your business is being scrutinized on social media platforms, even if you don’t pay attention to them.

There are many different KPI’s to look for when you are measuring the impact of your reputation management program. Overall consumer sentiment, engagement, and star rating improvements are all metrics your competitors may be optimizing.

Before you start a reputation management program, measure your current social media stats to set an accurate baseline. Note your current:

  • Star rating averages
  • Complaints customers have left in reviews
  • Number of followers
  • Levels of positive engagement (different than just engagement score)

Seeing a lift in each of these areas can demonstrate the impact of your reputation management program.

Star Rating

Many ratings and review sites give you an average rating every time you pull up your business page. Make a note of your current star ratings across the most relevant sites. Set a goal for how much you want to raise them in the next year.

You want to maximize your star ratings but remember that they’re relative and only a summary of your online reputation. There is no standardized definition of a five-star rating among customers.

Customers will want to see more than just an average rating. They’ll want to read real comments from real people, both positive and negative.

Customer Complaints

Experiential data helps put into context why someone gave you a three-, four-, or five-star rating. That’s why it’s important to understand the operational customer experience factors that are working.

Take note of why the customer left the review they did. What were their objections for not leaving a five-star review?

This could include employee communication with the customer, for instance. Or it could be a factor that requires prompt service recovery, such as front desk staff or wait times.

Finding that underlying “why” will highlight areas of improvement for your staff. It will also act as a measuring post for your reputation management program. The correct implementation should lower complaint frequency in those areas.

Finding, recording, and analyzing the brand sentiments of this feedback manually can be a time-consuming task. A reputation management software program with Natural Language Processing can automate the process, freeing up time for improvement implementation.

Followers

metrics-reputation-managementThe number of followers you have on social media platforms is also an indicator of your business’s popularity. Unhappy customers aren’t likely to engage with your brand outside of a negative review. Adding more followers is an indicator of positive sentiment towards your brand.

This does not hold true if you buy followers like many “social media experts” will advise. Inflating your followers with fake followers and spam only hurts your ability to measure actual social media engagement levels. It will also stand out like a sore thumb over time. Don’t do it!

Positive Engagement

You will know your reputation management program is succeeding when you see increases in user engagement like reposts and comments. It shows that you’re activating your “tribe” to have more positive interactions with your brand.

Avoid false positives by carefully paying attention to the sentiment behind the engagement. These should be easy numbers to find with basic social media monitoring APIs.

Direct Reputation Management ROI from Social Media

Interested in getting hard numbers from your social media engagement? Look at traffic from your social media pages to your website and average conversion rates or click to call metrics.

Social media is a great tool for brand growth, but it’s not the primary point of conversion for many users. Leverage it as a way to engage your customers and get a better idea of their brand perception.

Measuring Reputation Management ROI on Review Sites

Paying attention to review sites can be even more important than social media for physicians, restaurants, and other service-related industries. Keep track of your ratings on Google, Yelp, and industry-specific ones – for example, CareDash for medical providers. Start by setting up or claimed profiles on these pages if you haven’t already.

These directories are how many consumers find services online. They trust what other people are saying about the level of service being provided.

Like measuring the impact on your social media platforms, you will want to start by getting a baseline for how your business is currently viewed by customers.

You will want to look at:

  • Star rating
  • Current customer sentiment
  • SEO results

Star Rating for Review Sites

Very similar to social media, you should see an average or composite score of all of your reviews on a platform. This will give you an up or down indication of how your customer service is trending in the eyes of the consumer.

When looking at these scores and reviews, it may be tempting to respond to a negative review. We recommend checking out our guide on how to respond to negative reviews before opening that can of worms. You can do more harm than good if you aren’t careful.

Below are seven best practices Spartanburg Region Healthcare System has instituted around negative online reviews:

  1. Have a set of complaint and grievance policies and procedures that are reviewed during new employee onboarding.
  2. Emphasize the importance of good customer experiences and empower employees to turn negative experiences into more positive ones.
  3. Quickly alert employees about customer grievances and offer guidance to help turn bad experiences around.
  4. Instruct employees on who to alert about negative reviews on social media.
  5. Do not allow employees to respond directly on social media.
  6. Review reputation management with your current employees on a monthly basis.
  7. Take time to celebrate good reviews and improved results together.

The ultimate goal you should set for yourself is to improve your star ratings by at least half a star in the first year. That should be a realistic and obtainable goal.

Current Customer Sentiment

You need to analyze current customer feedback to better understand where you are failing to meet their expectations. Use this feedback to figure out how you can fix the issues they are experiencing.

Identify a few key areas and make them an operational focus over the next year for your business.

SEO Results

ebook-covid-19-healthcare-marketersDid you know online reviews greatly impact search engine results?

Search engines like Google prefer serving up the best possible results for their users. They use star ratings as social proof. It ensures they are giving a user the best quality service when performing a local search.

See your current organic search rankings by searching for your service offerings using the Incognito feature on Google Chrome.

Not ranking #1 on key services? Read your competitors reviews to get an idea of what they are doing and how you can improve. Hopefully, these rankings change as you continue to make improvements from customer insights.

Offline KPIs

Offline measurements of success are usually even more crucial for driving business decisions than your impact online. Reducing customer churn and increasing retention are more important than how many followers you have on social media.

In order to do this, take baselines of the following KPIs.

  • Net promoter score
  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Patient/customer referrals
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Estimated market share

These are KPIs that will lead to long term revenue growth for your organization and should be the measurements of focus for evaluating the ROI of your reputation management program.

There’s one more crucial part in measuring the ROI of your reputation management program: the benefit of building a better relationship with your customer.

The Real ROI of Reputation Management: Customer Relationships

Monitoring your reputation online helps you understand what your customers care about and how they think. That’s invaluable for your organization. It gives you the information you need to make good decisions about how your organization should operate.

Organizations may be shocked by what they discover upon starting a reputation management program. Physicians at Kure Pain Management (now Clearway Pain Solutions) assumed they’d already mastered patient satisfaction before their program started.

After some initial resistance and eye-opening results, the staff uncovered significant patient concerns and immediately began addressing them. Physicians were informed about negative feedback to highlight pain points or help individual employees improve. Seeing measurable data was essential to employee buy-in.

The effort improved individual physicians’ and the organization’s online reviews and ratings. Staff time management improved, patient wait times fell, and spending was even decreased across the organization. The resulting improvements to customer service increased patient satisfaction and loyalty.

Reputation management gives you the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with your customers.

If you aren’t investing in reputation management software, you aren’t getting the insights you need to better satisfy your customers. Satisfied customers become lifelong customers. Weigh the price of reputation management software against the lost opportunity costs to grow your business.

48% of consumers consider online ratings/reviews the most important factor when choosing a physician. Take what people are saying online as seriously as a new customer to succeed in today’s market.

When you see a pattern in customer feedback make the operational or staffing improvements needed to address the complaints. Continued iteration on your processes or products will lead to happier customers and positive reviews. This influences more people to try your business.

Increased customer acquisition and retention are priceless for any business and the true ROI of reputation management.

Want to learn more about how Binary Fountain can improve your online reputation?

Schedule a Demo

 

About the Author

Kayla Zamary
Marketing Manager

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June 10, 2020

Why Healthcare Payers are Eyeing Patient Experience

By: Erik Fessler

Superior patient experience is not just the concern of providers and health systems. Payers are also recognizing the costs of poor patient experiences and benefits in elevating the experiences of their members. Reimbursement models that rely on “fee for service” have contributed to a poor patient experience across the healthcare industry. Providers are forced to…

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payers-patient-experience

Superior patient experience is not just the concern of providers and health systems. Payers are also recognizing the costs of poor patient experiences and benefits in elevating the experiences of their members.

Reimbursement models that rely on “fee for service” have contributed to a poor patient experience across the healthcare industry. Providers are forced to see high volumes of patients each day to keep their practices profitable. It’s lowering the quality of care for patients and causing burnout among physicians.

Members are also fed up with the unintended side-effects of “fee for service.” They’re not willing to tolerate barriers to access and the long waits that are notorious in the healthcare industry. Long billing cycles, surprise billing, and billing mistakes also draw the ire of patients. Thanks to the rise of healthcare consumerism, patients are increasingly expecting a level of service on par with other service industries.

As a result, payers are moving away from traditional reimbursement models and working on alternatives. The models are being designed with two major concerns in mind:

  1. How can we improve the quality of care for our members?
  2. How can we reduce the costs of our members’ healthcare?

New models need to address both of these overarching concerns simultaneously. Payers are beginning to notice that patient experience has the potential to do so.

Patient experience is becoming a crucial business metric for insurance companies and managed care organizations. In this article, we’ll cover the reasons why positive patient experience should be a factor in any reimbursement model.

Reversing the Public Health Decline

The sagging overall health of the public is a primary driver of more patient-centric approaches.

Troubling data shows that United States citizen’s health is falling behind that of other developed countries. Morbidity rates are high. American women, in particular, have an alarmingly high maternal morbidity rate.

The reasons for our country’s decline in health are complex and often debated. But many experts agree that deficiencies in health services are a contributing cause. The U.S. has access to some of the most advanced medical research, technology, hospitals, and specialists on the planet. But shortcomings in access and quality of care provided are hurting overall health outcomes while costs soar.

Positive patient experience has shown potential in turning the tide on these figures. Studies have shown that improved patient experience metrics are linked to better clinical outcomes. One study found that positive interactions with providers correlated with greater care plan compliance and quality of life.

Positive patient experience, such as provider attitude and positive primary care performance, has been shown to increase adherence to treatment plans. Good communication with providers proved to be particularly beneficial at encouraging plan adherence. The quality of this relationship was shown to be especially prominent among patients in disease management. Researchers note that chronic conditions tend to require stronger commitment from patients to work with providers to achieve positive results.

A supportive patient experience during care has been connected to better long-term health outcomes outside of chronic conditions. This is particularly true for the quality of provider communications. Studies of patients hospitalized for heart attack have repeatedly shown a viable connection between patient experience and health outcomes. One study even linked patient experience and health outcomes up to a full year after discharge.

Lowering Member Healthcare Costs

Payers’ customers, and patients in general, are increasingly discontent with healthcare pricing.

Healthcare costs have been rising for decades, and the increases are hitting patient wallets. Per capita, out-of-pocket expenditures have grown from around $600 (present USD value) in 1970 to $1,150 as of 2018. The average employee saw their deductible rise 120% between 2006 and 2015 alone. And most patients can’t afford the average surprise $600 healthcare bill.

Patient experience can help lower healthcare costs in surprising ways. Relationship quality is an indicator of patient loyalty to providers, as well as an important element of patient experience. Patient loyalty can keep members in-network, healthy, and satisfied with their overall experience and care journey.

Efforts to increase patient experience have even been linked to elevated employee satisfaction, which in turn reduces turnover. Longer provider tenue offers patients consistency in care and greater clinical accuracy. This can reduce the consumption of medical services and cut costs further.

Patient experience tracking can even detect the potential risk of medical mistakes. Poor patient experience is associated with, and even predictive, of malpractice risk. One study found providers in its “very poor” patient experience group were 21.7% more likely to be sued for malpractice.

Patient Experience in Payment Models

Declining public health and medical costs outrage has healthcare payers looking at patient experience as a reimbursement metric.

Positive experiences in healthcare have been proven to improve health outcomes while simultaneously lowering costs. Patient experience can meet the core goals of new reimbursement systems while improving service for its customers.

The case for patient experience is only getting clearer with each additional study. The healthcare payers that embrace patient experience first will profit the most.

For more on patient experience and health insurance, browse these related posts:

About the Author

Erik Fessler
Marketing Coordinator

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June 08, 2020

Telemedicine Ratings: How to Improve Your Virtual Patient Experience

By: Kieran McQuilkin

The adoption of telemedicine is shifting into hyper-drive, with virtual healthcare interactions on pace to top 1 billion by year’s end. One of the largest telemedicine platforms, Teladoc, reported 15,000+ virtual patient requests per day in mid-March, and the pace has only quickened since then. When we surveyed hundreds of healthcare marketers about which projects they are planning post-COVID-19, telemedicine was the top response, with 50% saying it is a major upcoming initiative. The changed…

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virtual-patient-experienceThe adoption of telemedicine is shifting into hyper-drive, with virtual healthcare interactions on pace to top 1 billion by year’s end. One of the largest telemedicine platforms, Teladoc, reported 15,000+ virtual patient requests per day in mid-March, and the pace has only quickened since then.

When we surveyed hundreds of healthcare marketers about which projects they are planning post-COVID-19, telemedicine was the top response, with 50% saying it is a major upcoming initiative.

The changed focus is necessary, but healthcare providers are finding that virtual visits are far different from in-person care.

How do you ensure that your providers’ telemedicine appointments are as effective as office visits?

New information, best practices and skillsets are now needed for communicating with patients across a video screen, from miles away. Here are practical considerations to share with physicians and staff that are starting to engage in telemedicine for the first time.

Telemedicine Equipment and Technical Considerations

It won’t be easy for all your organization’s physicians to get comfortable with telemedicine, but the right equipment and technical know-how will start them on the right foot.

When considering the setup for virtual visits, imagine the visit from the patient’s point of view. Even if you’re using a makeshift office in your guestroom during the pandemic, you can clean any clutter, angle your camera for a tidy background, and close doors and windows to block background noise.

Here are more tips on telemedicine equipment that will improve the perception of your virtual visits:

  • Lighting can have a major effect on video quality. Turn on overhead lights and a desk lamp if available, and try to avoid having light-filled windows in the background.
  • Use a high-quality webcam so patients can clearly see your face and feel more comfortable speaking about their symptoms and care options. Today’s webcams are relatively inexpensive – you won’t have to spend more than $100 for sufficient performance.
  • Position your camera at eye level to make it easier to maintain eye contact with patients and make clear that you are focused exclusively on them.
  • Use wired headphones, if available, that have a built-in microphone for good sound quality. Most regular laptop microphones won’t pick up your voice clearly enough, and wireless headphones risk disconnecting or running out of battery during the visit.

In addition, make sure your technology support team’s contact information is easily accessible. Technical problems can and will happen, and you’ll want that sticky note available when you need it.

Before the Virtual Visit

Once your equipment is sorted out, there’s more to do in preparation for a high-quality telemedicine appointment that will produce desired outcomes and attract loyal patients.

Virtual patients will need to adjust to telemedicine just like providers, so make sure to engage patients beforehand with instructions on how to use the technology. You could prepare a cheat sheet with screenshots to send to patients before their first virtual visit, and consider doing a test visit before the actual appointment. A Massachusetts Medical Society study found that when staff does a day-before test visit with first-time telemedicine patients, the call completion rate approached 100% and visit completion increased from 60% to 96%.

Just like any other visit, take whatever time you have before logging in to read the patient complaint and their medical record. Virtual visits are generally more efficient than in-person ones, and off-screen preparation will help make them even faster.

You can also consider addressing insurance and billing options with patients before a video consultation. Billing for telemedicine is a moving target as states and insurers make changes and exceptions in the wake of COVID-19, so patients are bound to have questions and will want to get the most out of their time.

An optional but worthwhile consideration for providers is wearing your white coat or other medical uniform and making sure your badge is visible. Small adjustments like this can make major differences in the patient’s perception of their visit, which will be reflected in online reviews and survey feedback.

During the Virtual Visitwebinar-covid-19-telemedicine

As your virtual visit kicks off, consider who is within listening distance of your phone or video chat conversation. The patient will determine who is in their home environment, but physicians are responsible for confidentiality on their end. Inform patients early of other listeners or participants in the visit, especially if they’re off camera.

Before the meat of the visit begins, physicians should also give the patient instructions on what to do if technology malfunctions.

One of crucial patient experience factors for telemedicine is staying engaged. Physicians should try to maintain eye contact and acknowledge they are listening in more deliberate ways than in-person visits. Sometimes, that means mentioning to the patient that you’re taking notes or describing what you’re looking at on your computer screen.

Once you’ve talked through the patient’s care, be sure to explain next steps before signing off. This could include prescription pickup, billing, scheduling a follow-up or other processes that might be different from their regular in-office visits. The end of your video session is also a good time to ask for the patient’s opinion on virtual visits and prime them to complete a survey or leave a review.

After the Telemedicine Appointment

In a Massachusetts General Hospital study, 79% of patients said it was easier to schedule an appointment for a virtual follow-up than for a clinic visit, and 66% said they had strong personal connections to their telemedicine provider. Patients perceived significant added convenience, saved travel time, and expressed willingness to pay co-payments for telemedicine visits.

Right after the appointment is the best time to capture that patient experience and generate quality reviews for your providers. Consider automating your survey requests to send right after virtual visits, and use text messages to boost click-through rates. As you collect this new feedback data, put it to use by converting surveys and reviews into ratings for publication on your website and listings.

Remember in all your communications pre- and post-visit that care quality is the top consumer concern about telemedicine, followed by data security and privacy. On the other hand, convenience, time savings, access to care and financial savings are the most frequently cited reasons for patients’ preference for telemedicine. Highlighting those benefits, and easing concerns about care quality and technological issues, are key to improving patient experience for virtual visits.

Learn more about telemedicine’s impact on healthcare marketing and patient experience in our recent webinar: COVID-19, Telemedicine and Your Online Presence.

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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June 04, 2020

[Webinar Recap] COVID-19 Reopening: How Your Healthcare Brand Can Emerge Stronger from the Crisis

By: Kieran McQuilkin

The digital marketing landscape is evolving every day for healthcare professionals in the wake of COVID-19. How can marketers respond to changing consumer behavior and maintain their brand reputation in the long term as reopening begins? In this webinar, Stewart Gandolf, CEO of integrated marketing firm Healthcare Success, joined Binary Fountain’s Aaron Clifford to discuss ways…

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webinar-covid19-reopeningThe digital marketing landscape is evolving every day for healthcare professionals in the wake of COVID-19. How can marketers respond to changing consumer behavior and maintain their brand reputation in the long term as reopening begins?

In this webinar, Stewart Gandolf, CEO of integrated marketing firm Healthcare Success, joined Binary Fountain’s Aaron Clifford to discuss ways for healthcare marketers to position their organization for success as we start to emerge from the crisis.

They covered trends and data behind the shifting patient journey, content marketing strategies, best practices for promoting telemedicine, ways to improve employer brand, and more.

Click here to watch the on-demand webinar. 

Here are the key takeaways:

Adjusting Creative Strategy for the Current Situation

As it stands, 68% of Americans now expect the COVID-19 pandemic to last six more months or longer before full-scale reopening, and 56% are scared of contracting the coronavirus.

This collective fear and grief will take a heavy toll on consumers, but how people move through the cycle of grief can look very different. Luckily, the vast majority of people are in the dialogue and bargaining stage, and they are talking, reaching out, learning and responding. Healthcare marketers need to support them and help them make their way to acceptance.

It may be time to rethink your personas, as the previous ones may now be irrelevant, and make appropriate changes to your messaging to ensure it resonates with our new normal. Appropriate strategies will vary by location and provider type, but Gandolf suggests that your guiding principles include values, authenticity, transparency and safety.

More than 60% of Americans plan to wait 1-6 months to return to routine healthcare after restrictions are lifted, according to Alpha Health, but a McKinsey study shows that 50% might reschedule earlier if their doctor’s office called them about it. Offices should consider calling patients about rescheduling and explaining the safety measures you have in place, and reinforce that messaging everywhere: your website, social media, directories and advertising.

Marketing departments should consider applying triage principles to outreach: Target high-risk patients first. Use this opportunity to raise awareness of emergency health problems like strokes and heart attacks, then consider high-need consumers (e.g. obesity, diabetes, seniors).

Promoting Telemedicine and Capturing Patient Feedback

Telemedicine can be a bridge that allows patients to confidently and safely reengage with providers during reopening in the wake of COVID-19. Later, you can experiment with positioning it as a low-risk offer to encourage elective services or other care.

Beyond the link on your website, marketers should continuously educate patients and consumers through email, directory listings, social media and online display. Keep in mind that about half of consumers are concerned about receiving low-quality care from a telemedicine appointment, and other top consumer concerns surrounding virtual visits include data security, privacy and needing an in-person clinic anyway.

There’s opportunity for your listings management initiatives to drive the adoption of telemedicine. Both CareDash and Healthgrades have telehealth indicators that you can add to profiles. If you haven’t already, healthcare brands should add “Covid-19 Info Link” and “Virtual Care” attributes to their GMB profiles.

The online nature of telemedicine also gives you increased access to contact information you can leverage. Use it to drive testimonials – both surveys and reviews – and for insight into the virtual patient experience. Add telemedicine-specific questions to surveys and benchmark against in-office patient experience.

Protecting Employer Brand While Reopening

More than one-third of healthcare marketers surveyed by Binary Fountain had team members laid off or at risk of layoffs due to COVID-19, 41% had team members reallocated, and less than one-quarter indicated that nothing had changed. How healthcare organizations manage internal communications during this uncertain time will have a lasting effect on your company’s culture, your reputation and your ability to attract, recruit and retain talent.

A recent study from LinkedIn shows that Coronavirus-related posts are still getting more engagement than other posts — especially those focusing on how companies are helping. Perhaps because people are looking for resources and ways to cope, engagement with company posts about coronavirus is significantly higher than the engagement for an average company post.

The posts with the highest engagement used words about health, helping and support. Messages promoting public health also had high engagement, like references to social distancing, health authorities and healthcare workers. To keep your employer brand strong in this difficult situation for the industry, monitor those trends and shape your marketing communications to match the spirit of the times.

For more insights and advice, click here to watch the on-demand webinar. 

 

Read more about COVID-19’s impact on healthcare marketing and patient experience on our COVID-19 Resources page and in these articles:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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June 02, 2020

Google’s New ‘Page Experience’ Ranking Signal, Explained

By: Kieran McQuilkin

When it comes to web browsing, it’s no secret that users prefer sites with a fast, intuitive page experience. Recognizing the growing value of user experience, Google has announced an upcoming search ranking change that incorporates page experience metrics like load time and interactivity. The new page experience ranking signals are planned to deploy in 2021 and will add to recently updated user experience criteria for Google Search, such as mobile…

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google-page-experienceWhen it comes to web browsing, it’s no secret that users prefer sites with a fast, intuitive page experience.

Recognizing the growing value of user experience, Google has announced an upcoming search ranking change that incorporates page experience metrics like load time and interactivity.

The new page experience ranking signals are planned to deploy in 2021 and will add to recently updated user experience criteria for Google Search, such as mobile friendliness. The signals will combine Google’s existing signals for page experience with its newly updated Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability.

In this article, we will break down the upcoming change to Google Search and how page experience metrics might affect your search rankings.

How Does Google Measure Page Experience?

The page experience signal will measure “aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page,” according to Google. It hopes that businesses will optimize for these factors in an effort to improve web experiences across all browsers and devices, as well as to help sites evolve toward user expectations on mobile.

Core Web Vitals were introduced in April to incorporate user-centered metrics into Google Search that quantify aspects of web usability, such as load time, interactivity and the stability of content as it loads. Those measurements will be combined with the search engine’s existing Search signals for page experience, including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS security and intrusive interstitial guidelines, to provide a more complete picture of webpage experience.

As it continues to map out key metrics of page experience, Google plans to incorporate more page experience signals annually to align with user expectations and improve the online user experience.

How Page Experience Affects Google Ranking

By adding page experience to its hundreds of search ranking signals, Google aims to “help people more easily access the information and web pages they’re looking for, and support site owners in providing an experience users enjoy.”

The new addition won’t completely change your rankings. Google still plans to prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some of its page experience metrics are substandard. However, when multiple pages have similar content, page experience will become a much more important factor for ranking high on a SERP for a particular keyword.

google-search-page-experience-explainer
Image credit: Google

To help businesses and their webmasters plan and optimize for the update, Google updated developer tools including Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to display Core Web Vitals information and recommendations. Google Search Console also provides a dedicated report for identifying improvement opportunities for site owners.

Mobile Top Stories Update

The mobile Top Stories feature in Google Search currently emphasizes AMP results, which are optimized for a fast, simple page experience. But that will change as the page experience update rolls out.

As part of the update, page experience metrics will factor into ranking criteria for the Top Stories feature on mobile. Meanwhile, Google will remove the AMP requirement for Top Stories eligibility, so it will be open to any page.

 All pages still must meet the Google News content policies to be eligible. And site owners who already publish pages as AMP will see no change in behavior, according to the search engine.

Looking Forward

The page experience ranking changes will not happen before next year, Google says, and it will provide at least six months’ notice before they roll out. There is no need for immediate action, but the company is beginning to provide tools to stay ahead of the update.

As user experiences improve on the web, so will user engagement. Businesses that anticipate these updates to search and optimize for fast, easy web browsing will be the first to capture its benefits.

For more details and to monitor for updates, you can read Google’s announcement here and share these updated developer tools with your web manager.

Check out these other resources related to GMB and online listings:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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May 27, 2020

Google Adds Health Insurance Information Links to Business Profiles

By: Kieran McQuilkin

A new and vitally important feature is rolling out for healthcare providers’ Google listings: insurance availability. Google My Business updated its page for healthcare providers with a section called “Manage insurance info for your practice,” offering information about displaying insurance options on business profiles. The search engine says business profiles will display health insurance information for merchants whose insurance availability is provided to Google through a third-party database….

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health-insurance-google-searchA new and vitally important feature is rolling out for healthcare providers’ Google listings: insurance availability.

Google My Business updated its page for healthcare providers with a section called “Manage insurance info for your practice,” offering information about displaying insurance options on business profiles.

The search engine says business profiles will display health insurance information for merchants whose insurance availability is provided to Google through a third-party database.

Insurance information is available for “select merchants in the U.S. only,” according to Google, meaning the feature is still rolling out and is not immediately available for all healthcare providers or countries.

Displaying Health Insurance Information in Google Search

For eligible healthcare organizations, a “Check insurance info” link might display on your Business Profile on Google Search, under your business’s hours. The link opens an “Insurance information” page that lists the health insurance providers your business accepts.

Google will automatically include this link if it identifies insurance availability through its third-party provider. There is currently no indication that healthcare organizations can manually add insurance providers to their listings, if not all of them are listed.

There are, however, instructions on how to remove insurance information from GMB profiles.

Removing Insurance Providers from Google Business Profiles

To remove these details, send the Google Health team feedback. It may take up to three business days for the team to take action. You can include a screenshot in your feedback.

ebook-covid19-survey-healthcare-marketingOn mobile:

  • Use Google Search to go to your Business Profile.
  • Under your business’s hours, tap “Check insurance info.”
  • At the bottom, tap “Send feedback.”
  • Type your feedback into the form.
  • Tap “Send.”

On desktop:

  • Use Google Search to go to your Business Profile.
  • Under your business’s hours, click “Check insurance info.”
  • At the bottom of the popup window, click “Send feedback.”
  • Type your feedback into the form.
  • Click “Send.”

Healthcare organizations aren’t currently able to opt in or out of this new Google Search feature, so we recommend monitoring listings for all your locations to ensure the insurance provider list – if displayed – is accurate.

Though additional details on the rollout are pending, what’s clear is that the question of, “will you accept my health insurance?” is increasingly important to the patient journey. Google and its users have indicated that insurance availability is valuable to them in the search for care, so healthcare organizations that supply this information can help prospective patients make a quicker decision and win their business.

For more on Google My Business and healthcare listings management, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page and browse these resources:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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May 22, 2020

[Infographic] How the Rise of Telemedicine Will Impact Patient Experience

By: Kieran McQuilkin

The adoption of telemedicine has shifted into hyper-drive over the past few months, with virtual healthcare interactions on pace to top 1 billion by year’s end. Yet, in 2019, only 17% of consumers were aware that their health system or insurance provider offered telemedicine as an alternative to in-person care. To build online visibility for these…

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telemedicine-patient-experience-infographic
Click to view full infographic.

The adoption of telemedicine has shifted into hyper-drive over the past few months, with virtual healthcare interactions on pace to top 1 billion by year’s end. Yet, in 2019, only 17% of consumers were aware that their health system or insurance provider offered telemedicine as an alternative to in-person care.

To build online visibility for these services and improve the quality of virtual care, providers need to understand the impact of telemedicine on patient experience.

In our latest infographic, we’re sharing data on telemedicine surveys and reviews that can shape your marketing and patient experience strategies as the technology becomes ubiquitous.

The surge in telehealth popularity is clear. Teladoc Health says its video appointments surged 50% in a single week in March, and Kaiser Permanente similarly used telemedicine to reduce in-person visits to specialty physicians by 40% in one week.

Consumer comfortability with telemedicine is high as well, and they frequently seek it out as a care option. Four out of five consumers are more likely to select a medical provider who offers telemedicine services over one who does not.

Care quality is the top consumer concern about telemedicine, followed by data security and privacy, but studies show promise in the quality of virtual visits. Massachusetts General Hospital research showed that, when comparing virtual video visits and office visits, most patients and clinicians reported no difference in the overall quality of the visit. Not to mention, nearly 95% of reviews in the study indicated positive emotions.

So, how will the rise of telemedicine impact patient experience at your organization?

View Infographic

 

For more about telemedicine’s impact on reputation management and patient experience, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page and browse these resources:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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May 21, 2020

[Webinar Recap] How a Multi-Specialty Physician Group Leverages Patient Feedback

By: Kieran McQuilkin

As the healthcare consumer journey continues to change, prioritizing patient experience enhancements requires monitoring real-time feedback data across all your services – physical or virtual. In our latest webinar, we brought together Joan Cox, national senior director of patient experience at Steward Medical Group, and Andrew Rainey, Binary Fountain’s executive vice president of strategy and corporate development, to discuss ways to use…

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webinar-steward-patient-feedbackAs the healthcare consumer journey continues to change, prioritizing patient experience enhancements requires monitoring real-time feedback data across all your services – physical or virtual.

In our latest webinar, we brought together Joan Cox, national senior director of patient experience at Steward Medical Group, and Andrew Rainey, Binary Fountain’s executive vice president of strategy and corporate development, to discuss ways to use patient feedback to prioritize patient experience improvements at scale.

We covered how the national physician group uses survey and review data to benchmark provider performance, gain physician adoption for its telemedicine programs, and improve care outcomes.

Click here to watch the on-demand webinar.

Here are the key takeaways:

Leveraging Patient Feedback Data from Surveys and Reviews

To implement process improvement programs at scale, Steward collects and monitors patient feedback daily and distributes reports weekly.

The weekly patient experience reports include the following metrics: Provider Feedback Score (PFS) ratings, the number of completed surveys, and Net Promoter Score (NPS) benchmarking. The organization weighs the feedback differently depending on whether the source is an online review or patient survey. They focus on overall trends across those metrics, as opposed to an individual week’s or month’s rankings.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, review responses and patient communication have become crucial elements of patient experience at Steward. Cox recommends asking for feedback only when you have the time to respond and engage with the patient. This will give you the ability to repair any damage that’s been done by a patient’s negative experience.

To engage your employees, Steward highlights positive patient feedback in a monthly newsletter and hosts the feedback on an employee engagement SharePoint page.

“Positive comments are the backbone of employee engagement, and negative comments are the focus for patient engagement,” Cox says.

Benchmarking and Gaining Provider Buy-In

Internally, Steward is using patient feedback to benchmark practices and gain provider buy-in for initiatives like their telemedicine programs. Starting with survey and review data, the organization benchmarks patient experience ratings at both the provider and practice levels, which helps to identify where to focus on improvements across their locations.

Steward focuses mostly on practices that have significant survey volume, so there is a complete picture of its performance. The patient experience priorities are centered around its major areas of concern, as well – feedback about providers or employee engagement will receive more attention than feedback about facilities.

Positive patient feedback has helped support provider adoption for Steward’s telemedicine program, which is not mandatory for their physicians. Cox uses positive comments from Binary Fountain’s platform to share around the organization, nudging hesitant physicians toward using the technology.

Reporting Patient Experience Successes

Connecting patient experience directly to business objectives is never easy, but internal benchmarking based on patient feedback is helping Steward improve across several performance categories. Success is celebrated more than negative trends in reports, Cox says, but Steward “doesn’t shy away from showing who’s at top and bottom.”

One notable success was how Steward used feedback data from before and after piloting a primary care call center to show its impact on patient experience, leading to the approval and budget to expand it nationally. Its “practice champion” initiative also gained approval using survey metrics as a foundation – growing from 10 to 275 participants in less than three years.

Another major piece of validation for the organization was comparing PFS from before and after implementing patient experience measurements based on feedback data. Steward has reported a year-over-year improvement in risk contracting and in its patient engagement, which now is measured right alongside organization-wide revenue numbers.

For more insights and advice, click here to watch the on-demand webinar. 

Read more about customer feedback data and patient experience:

About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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