People are hungry for more choices than they get from existing options for finding a doctor. Doctor.com and The Alliance revealed how they are working together to satisfy that hunger at The Alliance Learning Circle “Making It Happen: The Health Care Evolution Continues” on July 22 at Monona Terrace in Madison.

Three speakers shared the data and decisions behind delivering a better doctor search: Andrei Zimiles, co-founder and president of Doctor.com; Ryan Peterson, programmer and analyst for The Alliance; and Reed Mollins, co-founder and vice president of business development for Doctor.com.

Doctor.com has been building doctor search tools since 2008 and currently powers four of the top 10 consumer health sites with data, search and patient engagement tools. Its network reaches more than 20 million patients a month, with more than 10,000 doctors engaged in providing information to fuel those searches.

Find a DoctorDoctor.com is working with The Alliance to create the Find a Doctor website that will offer cost and quality information to consumers searching for doctors, hospitals and health services.

Changing Expectations

Ten years ago, Zimiles said a doctor search typically started with the yellow pages or an outdated printed provider directory. Today, it’s likely to take place on a smartphone or another device that accesses the Internet, with 100 million people going online to find care nationwide.

But even online directories are changing. Early versions tended to offer a list of physicians, hospitals and other health services. That’s the approach taken by the former Alliance Provider Directory that will be discontinued in August.

Today, Zimiles said people’s expectations have been shaped by Google and Apple to demand Web experiences that are fast, intuitive and informative.

“People are really hungry for more than they’re getting today,” Zimiles said.

How People Find a Doctor in 2014

  • 100 million people in US go online to find care
  • 50% of those who search follow up to make an appointment
  • 52% of consumers want to access websites for information about quality and satisfaction, as well as patient reviews of doctors and hospitals
  • 1 in 4 people read online reviews of doctors before making an appointment
  • 25% of doctor searches are done on mobile devices.

Source: Doctor.com

Aiming for ‘Best Experiences’

Zimiles said it’s important to offer consumers the “best experiences,” which means they must anticipate consumer needs and be fun to use. Other desirable qualities include:

  • Responsive design optimized for mobile, Web and touch
  • Location-aware
  • Good design
  • Intuitive navigation
  • Simple ways to show complex data
  • Maps as well as addresses

Using this approach to share cost and quality information will give the new Alliance Find a Doctor site an “incredible opportunity” to guide patients, Zimiles said.

Cost and Quality Information

Peterson said The Alliance sought to modernize its provider directory because that’s where the cooperative has an opportunity to engage consumers and employers on the basis of cost and quality. The Alliance was able to draw data from its Outpatient Cost Estimator Tool; QualityCounts® reports on the quality and cost of inpatient care and the cost of outpatient care; and customer relationship management (CRM) data about member employers and their health plans.

“What we wanted was to take the best of all those things and integrate it in one place where we know the consumer’s eyes are,” Peterson said.

The new Find a Doctor service will allow people to view cost estimates for nearly 100 procedures based on actual costs experienced by past patients on the day the procedure was performed. Quality ratings will be available for Hospital Safety Scores and birthing center quality measures. Peterson noted that more procedure costs and quality ratings will be added to the site in the future.

Encouraging the Right Activity

Mollins said The Alliance was on the “short list” of organizations that Doctor.com sought as a partner for developing a tool that could help move health care forward by diving deeper into cost and quality.

The new Find a Doctor service provides intuitive searches that make it easy for consumers to find and sort information about doctors, hospitals and other health providers. Consumers who are covered by The Alliance network and log in will be able to see cost information as part of their search results.

Mollins noted that the site encourages consumerism by promoting the “right kind of activity.”

“What activity did we want to encourage? Getting people to see the best data possible, which is always at the procedure level.” – Reed Mollins, Doctor.com

All three speakers emphasized that the site will deliver value to consumers who want more information about doctors than a telephone book can provide. Zimiles compared offering cost and quality information to consumers searching for a doctor with creating a “hack,” which he defined as a website shortcut that make a big impact on users.

“This is our opportunity to hack the experience and implant in the consumer’s mind that maybe it makes sense to make this decision,” Zimiles said.

 

More about Find a Doctor

Darla Dernovsek
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Darla Dernovsek

Marketing Communications Manager at The Alliance
Darla Dernovsek joined The Alliance in 2013 as marketing communications manager. Dernovsek is responsible for managing and developing communication strategies as well as marketing plans to help fulfill The Alliance mission by raising market awareness.

Dernovsek has more than 25 years' experience in communications, public relations and marketing. From 1992 until joining The Alliance, Dernovsek owned her own freelance marketing and writing business to provide marketing consulting and writing for health-care related entities and credit union organizations. Earlier, she was the director of public relations for Rockford Memorial Hospital and city editor for the Beloit Daily News.

Dernovsek graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.

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