Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the United States, serving more than eight million patients across six states in the Southwest. As it set out to build a more-engaging digital front door, the team knew it would need consistent, comprehensive provider data as a bedrock to create a frictionless consumer experience. With a network of nearly 12,000 physicians, bringing cohesion to the data would be no easy feat.
Customers want an easy online experience in their search for a physician, said Christen Castellano, vice president of customer-experience channels at Banner Health, who is responsible for all digital and phone channels that connect customers to physicians.
“Banner lacked a complete inventory of physicians in a centralized location to present to customers,” she recalled. “The information was available, but lacked consistent branding and content. There was also a need around maintenance of the inventory. Physician data changes in a variety of ways to the tune of approximately 25% a year, including new hires and departing physicians, clinic location changes and additional clinical training.”
Having key analytics in order to grow the business also was lacking, she added. Banner Health needed to understand which services customers had a demand for, in order to build the most responsive system.
Banner Health worked with provider-search, patient-scheduling and data-management IT vendor Kyruus, which promised to provide an online platform that would be easy for the customer with rich physician data and content.
“This would enhance the customer experience by providing accurate information about not only the physician’s education and medical expertise, but also information about their interests and their care philosophy,” Castellano explained. “In providing this view, it would facilitate the best match for customers and physicians.”
In addition to enhancing the customer experience, physicians also benefit by having an active role in promoting themselves to attract patients that best fit the services they provide. This matching of patient to physician would help them build a meaningful practice, she added. The new technology also would allow Banner Health to monitor traffic to target growth and learn more about demand in the communities it serves.
There are many provider-search vendors, patient-scheduling vendors and data-management vendors on the health IT market today. They usually offer those services separately. Like Kyruus, Radix Health offers all the services together. LexisNexis is an example of an IT vendor that handles provider-data management. And Kareo is an example of a patient-scheduling IT vendor.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
The customer-experience team collaborated with several key stakeholders within the organization to optimize the platform. It was, and still is, critical to engage with physicians as they enter the organization to ensure they have completed their online profiles, including a photo and a video.
“In order to do this, we engage with them during the onboarding process,” Castellano explained. “In order to maintain their profiles, we also have a dedicated team that works with physicians and practice leaders to ensure key clinical terms are selected and updated regularly. This helps ensure the best match for patients. Having up-to-date information enables matching the right physician at the right time for the right service.”
Once the health system’s ProviderMatch launched, it was able to begin offering self-scheduling through the platform. In order to offer this service, staff needed to provide visibility of appointment availability. Staff collaborated with experts at Kyruus, as well as their EHR vendor, Cerner to integrate the systems.
“This was no easy task, as integration between the two systems had not been done before,” Castellano stated. “Change management and physician engagement were critical. It was imperative that the online scheduling option would match the right patient with the right provider and accurately schedule them. Having the complete information in the inventory enabled the quick adoption of scheduling.”
Customer-experience staff also continuously work with the digital-marketing team to leverage their expertise with Google My Business and Analytics to help better understand customer behavior. This understanding helps optimize search functionality and traffic to Find a Doctor.
“We learned valuable lessons, such as how star ratings affect customer behavior in conversion rates with self-service scheduling,” she recalled. “Through these analytics, we also know customer behavior and bounce points so we can further refine our web and search strategies. We also regularly partner with our marketing-technology team to create targeted marketing campaigns. This helps us understand customer needs and demands, and grow our business.”
Because of this work, Banner Health has experienced a 35% increase in organic traffic year-over-year to the Find a Doctor search option on the website, said Heather Francis, clinical integration director for customer-experience channels at Banner Health, whose role is to engage with physicians and practices to ensure clinical considerations are addressed in the design of technical systems for the digital front door.
“We also have seen a 23% increase in top search engine ranking by having the complete, relevant data on the physician profiles,” she said. “We also cross-linked informational pages on our website to Find a Doctor, which generated a 15% increase in referral traffic.”
To date, patients have scheduled more than 6,000 appointments online. Of those, 38% have been booked after business hours, demonstrating customer desire and ability to select the channel they want, when they want it, she noted. This convenience to find and schedule an appointment has resulted in significant new patient acquisitions, since 68% of these scheduled appointments are new patients, she added.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“Partnering with the medical groups was critical for ensuring accurate physician profiles and fostering ongoing support for Banner’s digital transformation,” Francis advised. “Being proactive and collaborative helped us build a foundation of trust as we drove change.
“This partnership starts with guiding physicians through the process of completing their profiles, which helps them understand the tool and how to build a meaningful practice. We then set up self-service scheduling in a way that ensures accuracy. Digital marketing then follows up to ensure they are found in search engines.”