Consumers have more power than ever. All the information needed to make or validate a decision lives online; access is at their fingertips. Then, the internet hive mind around reviews has collectively built more public confidence than the million- or even billion-dollar budgets brands dedicate annually to getting in front of and converting their audiences. Though all industries—from retail to hospitality—are grappling with this new reality, healthcare has it especially rough.
The big problems with healthcare listings
Today, patients “shop” for healthcare like they shop for anything else, often checking four websites before booking an appointment with a healthcare provider. But finding the right information about an organization or individual provider—like an address, a phone number, or even a name—on a third-party site or physician directory can seriously frustrate a new patient. Over half of patients say inaccurate or incomplete information will drive them to seek medical care elsewhere. These patient hassles can have a negative impact on patient experience and satisfaction before they’ve even stepped foot into a facility.
- Data misalignment: Healthcare and the consumer web aren’t a 1:1 correlation. The information doesn’t map seamlessly to consumer sites. It’s complex and often interwoven. Hospitals, health systems, and other organizations deal with different data points than a restaurant, a hardware store, or another local business. One physician, for example, may work out of multiple locations, treat several conditions, or be affiliated with more than one organization.
- Data integrity: Without a single source of truth, the quality of information about a physician or facility can suffer. Disparate data flows and inevitable human error introduce flaws that, without constant monitoring and spot-checking, get pushed out to consumers on third-party sites.
- Information scarcity: Over half of patients cite a lack of online information as a top barrier to care. This may be as specific as an outdated phone number listed or as broad as inadequate “social proof” about a physician or facility—i.e., star ratings and online reviews. Patients aren’t conditioned to write reviews about healthcare like they are for consumer brands—unless they're unhappy with the care received. Hardcoding this behavior will be vital to growing the reputation of an organization as well as the physicians associated with it.
Healthcare organizations have more control over the vast and complex web than they think. Once they stopped ignoring or trying to compete with this new reality, where consumers are in the driver’s seat, they learned that managing provider and location data across an ever-growing list of third-party sites is not just possible, but it’s much simpler than they were previously led to believe.
A brief history of healthcare listings management
In the beginning, using an in-house solution seemed like a logical approach. But it quickly grew unsustainable: Automated verification calls, direct mailings, and conflicting variations of data requirements led to endless frustrations, eventually driving healthcare organizations to seek outside help.
Tech companies sprang into action, addressing this challenge like they did for other early-stage industries: hiring contractors outside of the U.S. These contractors could log in as a healthcare organization and make changes manually on its behalf. But many sites block this practice and instead use external sources to update their systems, overwriting the work that was done correctly.
Healthcare listings management in the modern era
A closer look at the three approaches to watch out for—and the one that works for doctors.
Fast-forward to today: Companies now fill the gap in healthcare data management in more inventive ways. Some, of course, have proven more effective than others. The following four strategies have been used by modern healthcare organizations to limit potential patients’ frustrations and boost patient acquisition—but only one has shown any real long-term success for a practitioner’s needs.
1. The shotgun approach
With this approach, companies cast a wide net to accommodate as many sites and industries as possible. They create generic networks, spinning their value as offering more “coverage” than competitors and improving local SEO in Google search results—a claim that just isn’t true anymore. These solutions tend to be overly simple, lacking real focus and business objective. Vertical-specific resources that have a huge impact on healthcare—Healthgrades and WebMD, for example—remain outside their domain.
2. The façade
Other companies throw a “veneer” over listings—making quick, surface-level updates instead of changing the data source itself. While the data may look polished and accurate, underneath it all, it's a disorganized mess, and profiles revert to the original bad data when a contract is canceled—which puts the organization back at square one.
3. The power broker
Some companies don’t do the work themselves. Instead, they pass hospital and provider data to aggregators, which then make it available to any site that’s interested. But this approach has considerable shortcomings: Notably, many third-party companies either don’t use this data at all or devalue it in their data chain.
4. The solution provider: The only doctor listings management approach that works for healthcare
Today, healthcare organizations need a different kind of web strategy—one that prioritizes partnerships and the ecosystem on a holistic level. This need has given rise to the most modern and nuanced method of listings management yet: the solution provider.
Solution providers, like Press Ganey, can claim and secure profiles for the organization, its physicians, and physicians of affiliated hospitals across doctor review sites, physician directories, and other third-party websites; push data to the right channels through credible sources; and troubleshoot as soon as a problem arises. Compared to other methods, which make listings management both hard to measure and quantify, solution providers can track patient traffic and conversions, demonstrating much more tangible value overall.
As market consolidation accelerates and industry-specific category sites emerge, it is crucial to partner with a company that both deeply understands and is embedded within the data ecosystem. As a result, healthcare organizations can streamline the listings management process, ensure potential patients always get the right information, increase patient satisfaction, and make things easier for themselves today and in the future.
Press Ganey enjoys exclusive partnerships with the most highly trafficked healthcare sites and directories to guarantee physician and location accuracy across all major platforms. With advanced analytics, healthcare organizations can seamlessly track both listings accuracy and patient engagement.
To learn more about Press Ganey’s top-of-the-line listings management solution, request a demo here.