In a time when consumers shop and evaluate healthcare in the same way they’d shop for other commodities—like home goods, furniture, or clothing—provider groups are finding themselves with a need to maintain digital presences and “storefronts” that attract and retain their target patient population. A key to a good reputation management is customer—or in this case, patient—reviews that paint an accurate picture of patient experience, highlight specific services, and tout health outcomes.
Storefronts in healthcare are the ones that host reviews and ratings—like Healthgrades, Vitals, Yelp, and Google—and feature a single perspective of the care interaction: the patient’s. With HIPAA preventing providers from thorough responses to perceived misrepresentations of interactions or allegedly ineffective care, it is critical to manage reputation prior to a review being made.
It’s also important to have a consistent cadence of reviews being left across digital storefronts, as well as positive responses. Almost as bad as a low rating is to have a lack of patient testimony visible online. Both scenarios can be proactively addressed the same way: by managing the patient relationship during the entire wellness journey with patient communication and engagement.
By making the process easier for the patient, and asking every patient for their feedback, provider groups can significantly boost their online presence like Gwinnett Dermatology, whose proactive survey campaign increased online reviews by 485%.
When should providers consider reputation management strategies during a patient journey?
For many providers, it’s common to start with the end point in mind: patient health outcomes. But the journey to health has multiple touchpoints on the way to the end, and all along that journey, a patient will be formulating a unique perspective on their experience as a patient. Reputation management begins with the first call or click to schedule an appointment, and an overall positive patient experience depends on multiple factors:
- Ease of scheduling appointments
- Timeliness of being seen in an office
- Wait times to speak to staff or providers
- Ability to ask and have questions answered
- Friendliness of staff and care providers
- Frequent reminders and educational resources sent to personal devices
- Receiving and paying bills without a portal login or phone call
- The eventual health outcome
Each patient has unique needs for, and expectations of, a care interaction. Meeting patients where they are in their journey—education of a chronic condition, new clinical diagnostics, routine prevention—is the best way to begin establishing a positive provider-patient relationship.
How can reputation management strategies be more effective and efficient for resources?
Starting with the very first interaction—a call or click to schedule an appointment—patients are entering into a long-term relationship with a provider and surrounding group. At the same time, their data is entering the practice systems and flowing into existing processes and platforms.
As many aspects of patient experience are touchpoints with potential to untether from human interaction, a patient engagement solution can automate frequent, time-consuming process steps with communication strategies and modalities that fit the practice’s need and patient preferences. For example, it solves for the ease to schedule an appointment, rebook or cancel an appointment, find the building, fill out necessary intake paperwork, follow-up on care, provide key educational assets, and pay the cost of the visit.
In addition, an effective patient engagement solution will integrate with an existing practice management system, creating a bi-directional data mapping between the patient and the practice’s data. Allowing a patient to own more of their care without the need for several middlemen greatly reduces the friction in managing simple tasks such as rescheduling appointments that no longer work. It also frees up staff time spent on administrative tasks and refocuses existing resources on care delivery.
A patient engagement solution helps to meet patients where they’re at through:
- Personalized emails, human or automated phone calls, text messages, and chat modalities
- Appointment reminders that can confirm, cancel, and reschedule appointments from the message itself
- Configurable feedback surveys that route positive feedback to online review sites
- Condition management resources and varied, targeted health campaigns based on patient population
Where does reputation management fit in with patient communication timing?
A post-experience feedback survey has become part of most consumer communication pathways. In many cases, this end point will also serve as the beginning of that same pathway for others doing their online due diligence before they book a service or schedule care. Patients will already be collecting their data points as they continue through their care journey and are familiar with how to input this data when given the prompt.
To avoid a lack of feedback—or balance out only those most motivated to leave feedback, positive or negative—providers must select a post-care cadence that captures these data points from all patients, not just a select few.
By sending a post-care survey to all patients, it gives administrators the opportunity to:
- Assess for trends in feedback, positive or negative, and assess changes to common pain points
- Collect any negative feedback and preempt it from being posted online, and to offer further communication options if the patient would like to discuss their experience with a staff member
- Collect positive feedback and make a seamless transition from patient engagement solution survey to online storefront of the provider’s choosing
Reputation management is the result of a positive patient-provider relationship
A capstone to a trusting patient-provider interaction is the ability for both sides to ask and answer questions about how the care was delivered, and how the experience could be enhanced. However, it takes time, consistency, and effort to build a solid foundation. According to research published in Medical Care, as of 2021, physicians average only about eighteen minutes with a patient during a visit, in a process that could be weeks-long for a patient. A patient scheduling and engagement solution will help bridge the gaps providers are unable to individually manage and personalize outside of an exam room.
Learn more about healthcare automation in Dash Talk: The End of the Phone Tag Era.