Healthcare Transparency Can Be a Marketing Game-Changer

Healthcare transparency can be a marketing game-changerPress Ganey, NRC, HealthStream, PRC, Avatar.  If you are part of a hospital, health system, or medical practice, there is a very good chance that one of these names rings a very distinct bell. In fact, I’m sure you have heard conversations that begin something like “We just got our (insert previously mentioned company name here) scores and we are not (or are extremely) happy.” CAHPS and patient satisfaction scores can make for some very polarizing opinions, but we will save that discussion for another time.  In the meantime, let’s focus on leveraging some of that CAHPS data and how healthcare transparency can be a marketing game-changer.

So, What Data are We Talking About Here?

One key category of survey data that can be directly leveraged for your online marketing efforts comes from the patient feedback of your physicians and providers.  We can certainly pull quantitative data from HCAHPS Care from Doctors questions, CG-CAHPS, or a variety of other surveys that are sent to patients after a visit with their doctor/provider.  Some good examples of these related questions include:

  • How often did doctor/provider treat you with courtesy and respect?
  • How often did doctor/provider listen carefully to you?
  • How often did doctor/provider explain things in a way you could easily understand?
  • How often did doctor/provider spend enough time with you?
  • Overall likelihood of recommending the doctor/provider

These surveys also typically provide strong qualitative data in the form of free-form comments.  Think of the combination of quantitative data (scores) and the qualitative data (free-form comments) like something you see and potentially use on a daily basis in the form of online reviews for products or services.

Why Do I Care About Reviews and Ratings?

Oh, let me count the ways reviews and ratings can impact your online marketing.  Let me start by asking the question “Do online reviews have a measurable impact on the products and services your buy?”  The answer is a resounding “yes”.  88 percent of consumers trust ratings and reviews as much as personal recommendations, up from 79% just over a year ago.  Couple that with the 76%+ of potential patients turning to medical websites for healthcare and provider information, you begin to see just how important this information has become.  Take that one step further; online reviews have a very direct impact on SEO.  The more reviews you have, the greater your site’s authority will become.  Not to mention, it will also elevate your position in local search engine rankings.  As you can clearly see, reviews are very powerful indeed.

But What About Third Party Rating Sites Like Healthgrades Or Even Yelp?

There are a plethora of places where reviews of your doctors and providers can appear online.  The problem is that you have very little control over these sites and more importantly, data tends to be skewed due to the typically low number of total reviews.  With a quick journey back to Statistics 101, we remember that it takes a minimum of about 30 responses to have a statistically significant sample.  At this point, data begins to “normalize” and we have enough responses to balance both the very positive and very negative responses.  When you only have 1 or 2 reviews, the data is very much skewed and does not give an accurate representation. Guess what? The vast majority of these 3rd party sites tend to have a low number of reviews.  In many cases, they also may have incorrect information.  Do you want your doctors and providers online reputation solely in the hands of sites that you don’t control, which may not have enough reviews to give a fair and accurate picture?  I think we both know the answer to that!

Point Taken, But How Do We Leverage The Data and Take Control?

The first thing we want to do is to transform our existing survey data into a format that can be used as the valuable marketing content that it is.  We do this by converting our quantitative data (scores) over to a five star rating system as well as including the corresponding patient comments (qualitative data).  This gives us a format that is user-friendly and very familiar to the consumer as well as highly preferred by the search engines.  There are numerous vendors that can help with this process and it’s entirely possible that your own survey provider can help. This powerful combination allows us to take that big first step towards transparency and provides consumers the information they need and want when they are looking for provider information.  This becomes a perfect opportunity to move what may have been a stale, static physician page into one that provides the type of information healthcare consumers are craving.

What Are The Benefits of Embracing Transparency?

Embracing transparency can have a very positive impact on marketing, your physicians, and for your service excellence teams by:

  • Improving the online reputation of physicians: You already have a lot of survey data to truly give a fair and accurate view of the patient experience with your physicians.  This is a great improvement over relying on the minority who went and completed an online review at any number of sites.  This puts your organization in control and protects your physicians from the wrath of a single frustrated patient by providing enough data to offset the occasional low rating.
  • Improved SEO: The search engines reward for content that is updated on a consistent basis, is most relevant to consumer searches, and is unique to your organization.  Your survey data serves all three of these criteria and will help to raise your search position.  Remember, the first 10 results in a Google search wins about 90 percent of all traffic with number 1 taking the lion’s share at 33 percent.  You data will put you on a path to get there!
  • Brand Elevation: Consumers are demanding transparency and by doing so now, they will perceive your organization as forward thinking and credible.  Taking this step will give the consumer what they want and will pay significant dividends to both your organization’s reputation and its bottom line.
  • Real Improvement: Transparency is a powerful motivator for improvement with physicians.  Organizations that have implemented transparency are seeing their physician’s patient satisfaction rankings climbing and in many cases, the need for internal coaching is decreasing.  A win/win!

Transparency can be a powerful marketing and improvement tool.  The best part about it is that you already have the data in place.  Taking this step for your organization will produce measureable results, not just a surface change, but a journey towards real, genuine improvement.  Next time, we will talk about some of the steps you will need to take internally to make this process a success and gain internal buy-in.

Michael Dowd

Listen. Understand. Solve. Balance. In order to develop innovative solutions for our client’s marketing challenges; Michael puts his focus on all four of these. At its heart, business development is all about listening to the needs of the client, fully understanding the complex nature of those needs, and helping create solutions that they never thought were possible. When you combine these three things together, you get a perfect idea of the hard work that drives Michael each day at the office. Lastly, you need to add in the balance. Michael takes his free time just as seriously as his office time. He is a fervent French Bulldog Father, an avid supporter of local brewing culture, and a lifelong hockey fan. Listen. Understand. Solve. Balance. It brings out the best in Michael.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Jennings e-newsletter
Curated news and information in healthcare marketing