Today, we have a conversation with a reputation management expert, Binary Fountain’s Aaron Clifford.
Bringing more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Aaron is the company’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. Previously, Aaron served as the senior director of digital marketing solutions for HCA, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, where he created the vision for the organization’s enterprise-wide reputation management program.
Here, he offers some insight on how to use data to analyze and improve reputation.
To start with a fairly simple example, says Aaron, it’s helpful to appreciate data and what it means from the viewpoint of a physician in a solo practice. If a physician wanted to know why his or her practice seemed to be slowing a little, we’d want to understand the trends. Are new patient acquisitions rising or falling? Is there an increase in the rate of patients dropping off?
I would be asking, “Can you assemble data on your past three years of new patient volume? How have your reviews been growing and trending in satisfaction in that period?” Obtaining this data may be a challenge for a small practice, but the more modern practice management systems typically have this readily available.
We’d also want to look at ratings themselves on several channels, for example, Google My Business, Vitals and HealthGrades. I’d ask, “Are you acquiring new patients, or do you seem to be losing patients, due to reviews?”
To appreciate patterns and correlations, we’d want to overlay the review data onto the physician’s patient gain and loss numbers. This is where the data will likely point to the answer: online reviews can track with up- or downward trends in patient loyalty. This can influence practice growth, which of course has an impact on revenue.
Along the same lines, physicians or their practice managers should collect and analyze their referral data, to answer this question: Is there a correlation between referrals and new patient acquisition? If they don’t already, new patient forms should include questions such as “How did you hear about this physician?” and “What made you choose to book an appointment with this practice?” Tracking the answers will reveal opportunities to determine attribution.
Aaron observes that these small-practice principles are directly applicable to the perspective of the marketing staff in a larger practice or larger healthcare provider system. The hypothesis is similar: Online reviews impact revenue, positive reviews impact positively — negative reviews reduce new patient signups, and also depress patient loyalty, increasing attrition rates.
“For larger practice systems or hospital systems, cautions Aaron, “It’s advisable to ‘North Wind’ the practice manager, physicians, and operational management teams, to let them know you’re collecting data to build on the reputation of the practice. This way, they’re less likely to feel they’re under a magnifying glass.”
Aaron concludes, “It’s another proof of the hypothesis: by tracking and improving online reputation, the practice increases patient satisfaction, builds loyalty, and sees the positive effects on growth and revenue.”
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