April was National Financial Literacy month, and a crucial – but often overlooked – predictor of financial success for a physician’s practice is the sentiment of their online reputation. From social media platforms like Facebook and Google Plus, to review sites like Yelp and Healthgrades, countless avenues exist by which patients review and critique every aspect of a provider’s performance online. According to a 2013 survey study by Digital Assent, 72% of patients say that bad reviews prevent them from actually going to see a particular doctor, so it’s imperative that you regularly review your practices’ comments, respond to them, and address them by adjusting your operations.
We’ve already covered 4 ways to optimize your practice so that it can earn 5-star reviews. This time, we’re tackling how Privia works with providers to manage online reputation and engage with patients. Daunting though they may seem, open-ended online comments are meaningful insights that you can turn into actionable items to improve your patient experience and your organization’s reputation. Read on to learn some strategies Privia uses to track, report, and address reviews, so our providers can put their best faces forward online.
Healthcare-Specific Natural Language Processing (NLP)
The number of online reviews grows by 44% each year, so the need to quickly analyze feedback at scale grows ever more vital. For providers looking to improve their standing online, the hard part is trying to parse through hundreds (or thousands) of reviews for actionable information they can use to improve their performance. That’s where platforms like Binary Fountain and its Natural Language Processing (NLP) comes in.
Binary Fountain, a patient experience platform, aggregates various forms of patient feedback and provides healthcare-specific analysis. Privia partners with Binary Fountain to manage online chatter about 900+ physicians and over 400 practice locations. Through Binary, Privia gathers data from social media and review sites to provide a holistic view of the patient voice to help guide operational change.
NLP identifies and analyzes keywords and phrases in unstructured comments and the context of how they’re being used. The technology wades through millions of online reviews, surveys, and other sources to reveal “insights.” It’s one of the most powerful tools a system can use to understand and act on the patient experience.
Most NLP tools, however, were created to work across multiple industries, but patients are unique consumers. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work well when it comes to understanding the typical patient’s voice. Feedback about a physician or specialist requires a more precise NLP, not one that also analyzes reviews about Starbucks, Target, or Jiffy Lube.
Binary Fountain took the approach of creating a healthcare-centric NLP from the ground up to understand the nuances of healthcare language. With 37 patient experience categories serving as the foundation, Binary Fountain’s insights range from comments related to everything from Timely Care (“waited over 30 minutes…”) and Helps Patients Understand (“Doctor took time to explain new medication…”) to Overall Experience (“They take great care of our family…”), and reveals each comment’s sentiment value. Patient experience scores can also be used to that give a sense of their perceptions across the range of forums and social media sites. This information makes it easy for a practice to dig deeper to identify the issues causing bad reviews – and fix them.
Communication: The Key to Addressing Your Critiques
According to Privia’s Customer Experience Manager, Teri Culp, a common mistake providers make is simply not communicating with patients. The most frequent online complaint she receives from patients? Unreasonably long wait times, with no indication of how long the wait will be.
“It doesn’t occur to [those working at the office] to give an update on why wait is too long — and [patients’] time is money as well,” Culp says. And when patients are disgruntled after a long wait, they’re more likely to vent their frustrations online, rather than in the office where you can address the problem immediately. The onus is on you and your staff to be overly communicative during their visit.
“Patients want to know the reason why the wait is so long. They’re ill and they want to get seen, but they also just want to know what’s going on.” Culp suggests giving patients an estimated time frame at the beginning of the appointment, and then give them a choice if the wait time will cause the appointment to run over. Allow them to continue to wait, or reschedule.
For negative reviews that patients do post online, posting a timely response could turn a bad review into a better one, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to engage with a review left by a patient. And remember, every review deserves a response. At Privia Medical Group, our team engages directly with negative reviews online to resolve each criticism case-by-case. Engaging your patients online is a necessary part of maintaining a positive patient experience. Privia prepares monthly performance reports for each provider to show them what their patients are saying about them. Reports include everything from broad issues like wait times and communication, to finer points like office lighting and sign placements. Privia also works with providers to find solutions.
Eighty percent of companies say they deliver superior customer service, but a mere 8% of customers agree, a concerning statistic when you consider that healthcare is trending toward prioritizing the consumer experience. Health organizations that embrace this shift, and proactively work to improve their reputations, will find themselves winning new patients and building long-term loyalty.
Interested in learning more about how to engage with your patients and optimize your presence online? Contact Privia to delve deeper into how we help our physicians maintain and improve their online reputations.