By on

Healthgrades Launches New Search Experience: Here’s What Hospitals and Doctors Need to Know

Healthcare-oriented review sites survive and thrive based on their ability to serve two main clients: medical providers and patients. An ideal site is one that effectively balances the needs for patient acquisition and relationship-building on the part of healthcare providers, while maintaining full integrity when it comes to delivering assessments of the services patients need.

As one of the review sites with the longest history of serving patients and healthcare providers, Healthgrades is known for being in the forefront of innovation when it comes to providing potential patients with useful insights to help them locate and select medical providers.

(Check out: “New Study Reveals that Yelp and Healthgrades Are Most Trusted Sites for Online Doctor Reviews”)

Recent developments in big data management have facilitated upgrades to the tools available to patients through medical review sites. Healthgrades is among those adopting big-data-based strategies. Their newest implementation is a data-driven search platform that promises to be a game-changer. To better understand why this matters to medical providers, let’s step back and take a look at the importance of big data.

What Is Big Data?

Big data is the designated term we utilize in the description of exponential growth and availability of data, including structured and unstructured data. Unstructured data refers to accrued data that is not ordered by category. A great example of unstructured data is the general content available on the Web, and how we are able to locate specific threads by conducting a query using a search engine.

Technological advances have made the storage and access of big data more affordable, making it realistic for businesses to incorporate complex data-driven models to the way they conduct business. To put it in simple terms, more data may lead to more accurate analysis. Accuracy in data analysis can, in turn, equip companies and individuals with the information needed to make better decisions in a broad range of issues.

Healthgrades Data-Driven Search Will Serve Up Innovation That Matters

In the past, we have explored how medical and healthcare review sites are often a measure of patient satisfaction as it relates to customer service instead of medical expertise.

This bias has left an informational gap when it comes to helping patients locate doctors with expertise specific to medical conditions or medical procedures. Healthgrades promises to breach this gap through their recently launched data-driven search tool. According to Evan Marks, Healthgrades Chief Strategy Officer, the new search tool will provide patients and family members a much more precise indication of a particular doctor’s track record with specific conditions or treatments.

Added Healthgrades Chief Executive Officer Roger C. Holstein: “The Internet has dramatically changed how people access important information and make connections. Just look at the popularity of sites like Zillow and TripAdvisor. But unlike shopping for a house or vacation, detailed information about physicians and hospitals has been non-existent until now. Healthgrades is transforming how Americans find a doctor, at a time when people need this information most. We are giving people the information needed – the doctor’s experience, the quality of their hospital and whether patients were satisfied with their care – to make critical decisions.”

Healthgrades Launches New Search Experience: Here’s What Hospitals and Doctors Need to Know

What Makes This Feature Different from Other Medical-Review Sites?

Marks said, “One of the most important factors for consumers with regard to selecting a physician is knowing that that particular physician does more of what it is they need. It just makes common sense.”

While other medical and doctor review sites allow searchers to identify healthcare facilities and doctors based on metrics such as years of experience, gender, specialty, insurance companies accepted, and geographic location, Healthgrades will now serve up information about doctors mined from de-identified medical-insurance claims that are available publicly or privately via a direct purchase with insurance providers.

These records will serve to assemble profiles of physicians in 1,100 medical specialties, experienced in 600 illnesses, chronic or genetic conditions, or medical procedures. Those 600 diseases, conditions, and procedures comprise 90 percent of all in-patient hospital admissions, According to Healthgrades, another 800 diseases, conditions, and procedures will be added to the database in November 2014.

After running their query for Experience Match, Healthgrades users will be able to further refine their results by using additional filters that identify categories such as physicians’ experience with a given condition or procedure, facility quality, insurance acceptance, geographic location, gender, and overall patient satisfaction rates.

Healthgrades’ scores are based on data from nearly 5 million patient surveys. The new data-driven search also offers an overall best-match feature, which combines up to nine filters to offer potential patients results that identify the best fit for their medical needs.

Why Does This Matter to Medical Practitioners?

Thanks to Healthgrades new search features, patients will be able to make decisions based on multiple dimensions that go beyond the emotional and interpersonal aspects of medicine. By providing searchers with data specific to doctors’ past experiences with potential patients, doctors can expect referrals that walk in with an unprecedented level of confidence.

When performance is paired with excellent bedside manner, the results are highly synergic. Doctors with a high level of engagement in Healthgrades will most likely see positive results in the way of increased referrals and improved, more accurate reviews that assess the totality of their performance, instead of focusing exclusively on the customer experience.

(Check out: “Attention, Doctors: Here’s How You Should Respond to Online Reviews”)

Going Beyond Serving Potential Patients

According to Marks, the Experience Match data will not exclusively benefit patients. It will also provide medical practitioners with a functional tool to make referrals to specialists that are not based exclusively on personal relationships. Instead, it will provide objective metrics to assess the competence, experience level, and overall suitability of the specialist based on the specific needs of patients being referred.

When a family doctor makes a sound referral that results in superior patient satisfaction, the patient’s trust in the family practitioner will be reinforced, thus resulting in improved reputation and credibility for both the referred medical practitioner and the person who referred him or her. The company points to an analysis by the research firm Stax Global Strategy Consulting, which found that 61 percent of physicians believe more objective data would help them make better referrals.

The Potential Downside for Generalists

Because the tool is designed to match searches with the most experienced doctors based on volume of specific procedures, there is a potential downside for generalists who are otherwise excellent and have tremendous patient-satisfaction scores. At the end of the day, shoppers will be able to decide what metrics matter most. For those seeking customer service, relational healthcare, and bedside manner, Healthgrades customer-service scores will continue to be a valuable resource in selecting a provider.

What Can Practices Do to Improve Their Experience Match Score?

Since the bulk of information driving this tool originates from insurance claims, ensuring that coding associated with each claim is accurate and reflective of all the services and procedures provided becomes essential to getting the best Experience Match scores.

Additionally, doctors wanting to be found for specific procedures, particularly those engaged in elective surgery, might want to spend time and resources marketing procedures most valuable to their practice. This will result in better profiling as their number of records increases. Finally, doctors would do well to ensure their online profiles are rich, descriptive, and accurate, capturing all the credentials and additional training they might have.

By providing better and more accurate information to help consumers make decisions regarding their healthcare, consumers are likely to increase engagement with review sites. According to a poll conducted by Harris, 90 percent of consumers said they could make a better choice of physician if they had more information about those physicians. Providing consumers with additional search dimensions is without a doubt a step in the right direction.

If you are a medical doctor or medical practice who is currently looking into ways of incorporating consumer-driven data as part of your overall marketing and patient acquisition strategy, then ReviewTrackers has the tools to help you do it the right way. We know what it takes to trigger patient engagement and manage reviews to facilitate the growth of your practice and consolidation of your online and offline reputation.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.