In my previous blog post, Healthcare Transparency Can Be a Marketing Game-Changer; we explored the idea of implementing a healthcare transparency program. If you recall, the idea is to leverage your CAHPS or other physician survey data as a way to improve your physician’s online reputation, positively impact SEO, elevate your brand, and continue down the road to real, measurable improvement. Take a look at the physician finder page of Dr. Thomas Miller, Chief Medical Officer for University of Utah Health Care and you will find a well-executed and pioneering example. Transparency can be a powerful marketing and improvement tool, but it is also going to take some work to properly implement. Let’s explore a few ideas that will help make your healthcare transparency program a success.
Find Your Champion!
Let’s face the facts; any time change is proposed that might take us out of our comfort zone, rest assured it will be met with skepticism. It’s absolutely critical to find a program champion that can see this process through from inception, to pilot program, to final rollout. Without someone leading the charge to change hearts and minds, it is quite likely that it will die on the vine, no matter how beneficial the program will be to the organization. When evaluating someone for this role, ask yourself a few questions:
- Can this person “bridge worlds”? – There are quite a few stakeholders involved here from the physicians and providers to marketing, IT, and even the C-Suite. You need someone in this role that has the ability to communicate effectively with each of these unique groups. They will all have a different perspective of this process and it is so important to be able to meet them where they are. Speaking their “language” when appropriate and having an insightful understanding of their positions and potential objections will go a long way.
- Is this person high up enough in the organization or have high-level support? – By no means is this a task for a junior member of the team. No offense, but they will just not command the respect that is needed to make this happen. The higher the level this person is, the better. We all know, that which is supported strongly by the C-Suite, has the greatest potential for success. You want someone that is either further up the food chain or commands the respect of your executives and can go to them for public support in this role.
- Can they “stare down the dragon”? – Expect a lot of pushback, especially early on in the process. Your champion will need to be able to stand their ground while at the same time, be empathetic to stake holders and patient while working to build consensus.
Work With Your Physicians To Get Buy-In
Even though physicians have the most to gain here, they will also be the most resistant and typically struggle with the idea of having their patient satisfaction scores shared. There is a real fear of negative comments from patients, low scores compared to their peers, and in many cases, concerns that this could damage their online reputation. Oddly enough, most of the information that is currently online for your physicians does not accurately represent them and the care they provide. Here are a few points to keep in mind when talking with your physicians:
- Your scores are far better than you think – There is a very strong chance that your physician’s scores are significantly better than what is showing on third party sites. Make sure they are familiar with their internal survey scores and how they compare against their peers. They just might have a very pleasant surprise.
- This is an opportunity to overshadow third-party rating sites – When it comes to search, the higher the number of individual reviews, the higher the rank. According to a Loyola University study, the average third-party rating site is only comprised of 2.4 reviews per physician. That is far too small of a sample size to give an accurate representation. Be sure they are aware that you will be using, at a minimum, a sample size 15 times larger! That larger pool of reviews will help to eclipse the third-party sites in search and move the more accurate picture up in online search.
- Set the expectations – You want to establish hard and fast criteria for when physician data will be part of the program. There is always a fear that their scores will be based on minimal data. This is an opportunity to put those fears to rest. Consider not including any physician until they have at least 6 months of data and a bare minimum of 30 patient reviews. This will insure a stable and representative sample. Do not include any physician until these minimums have been met. Including them before this is accomplished would be a disservice. Let them know you have their best interests in mind and you are there to protect them.
- This will help increase patient volume – The healthcare consumer is looking for information online. Over 70% want to see physician performance information and more than 30% say this is the first thing they look for when selecting a provider. By establishing this presence early and before your competitors, you put your physicians in the best place possible to grab a larger share of the market.
Engage Your Legal Department From the Start
A transparency initiative means that you will be sharing information from your patients and you need to be prepared for any legal ramifications that surround it. Be sure to have appropriate disclosure language included in your surveys and/or cover letters to let patients know that you may publish this information. Work with your legal and compliance teams to develop language that works for your organization. This could be as simple as adding one phrase like, “Your feedback is important to us and we may share patient comments anonymously on our website.” Once this language has been added to your surveys and/or cover letters, you are ready to begin publishing the survey results.
Begin With A Pilot Program
Before taking a transparency program live, be sure to run an internal pilot program. Set aside 3 to 6 months to populate the data and allow internal stakeholders to see exactly what the public will see when this does indeed go live. Allowing your internal constituents to become familiar with the outputs will help to build acceptance, especially when they see the actual results are far better than initially anticipated. You also want to be sure any kinks are worked out before flipping the switch. Proper pre-planning will help with the adoption and acceptance of the program.
These are just a few best practices to consider when implementing a transparency program. With a little careful planning and a whole lot of consensus building, you will position your organization for success and enhance your brand in the eye of the healthcare consumer. This very progressive move will pay dividends for years to come.