Geisinger health system serves more than 3 million consumers in 45 counties across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, employs 1,800 physicians, and works with another 1,700 affiliated physicians.
Increasingly, consumers search for care providers not only by specialty or name, but also by condition or treatment keywords. To help match patients with the provider that’s best for them, Geisinger decided it needed a robust search tool where providers themselves could choose and validate their clinical focus areas using either clinical or layperson terms, and consumers could search by keywords on the health system’s website.
Additionally, to ensure providers were searchable only for terms aligning with their approved scope of practice and access priorities, the health system decided it needed workflows for operations leaders to validate those clinical focus areas.
“We wanted to empower our providers and operations leaders to be able to login and curate their clinical keywords and profiles, increasing the odds that consumers who directly search for care would be able to refine results to the right providers for their individual needs,” explained Sarah Sommer, vice president of digital engagement at Geisinger.
“We also needed a solution where providers could enter additional information outside of their credentialing details, such as professional memberships and personal interests – to inform personal statements – that would be routed to marketing for editing and publishing.”
And perhaps most important, Geisinger needed analytics on consumer searches to inform practice optimization and marketing efforts, she added.
So Geisinger decided to work with Kyruus, a provider search and scheduling systems vendor.
The vendor offered a front-end provider search tool Geisinger could use on its website, ProviderMatch for Consumers, and offered a tool called ProviderMatch Administrator with a wide range of suggested clinical templates for different specialties to streamline the provider profile configuration process.
“We wanted to empower our providers and operations leaders to be able to log in and manage their clinical keywords and profiles themselves over time, since these profiles are how they introduce themselves to patients and market their areas of expertise online,” Sommer said.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Geisinger engaged clinical and operations leadership up front to introduce the Kyruus system, specifically the ProviderMatch Administrator application, where providers and operations leaders could log in and directly manage profiles.
“We asked leadership to appoint one leader from more than 80 specialties to define and approve a default clinical template for all providers in their specialties,” Sommer recalled. “After all 80-plus specialty leaders approved their default terms, we then invited all providers who are schedulable within those specialties to log in to their individual profiles and further refine their clinical terms to reflect the approved scope of practice based on access guidelines.”
"It is essential to think about provider search in terms of both consumer-focused and clinical terminology in order to build a robust search experience that can work well not only for consumers of varying education levels, but also for referring physicians."
Sarah Sommer, Geisinger
Once the health system had curated these provider profiles with direct engagement from clinical leaders and the providers themselves, it leveraged the new provider directory to launch ProviderMatch for Consumers on the website, providing a new way for patients to search for providers and find the right matches for their specific needs.
“The underlying taxonomy maps clinical terms to lay synonyms to display appropriate providers in search results whether consumers search using clinical keywords or lay terms – for example, foot doctor for podiatrist or AFib for atrial fibrillation,” Sommer said. “From there, consumers can narrow down their search results dynamically based on various criteria.”
Now that the system is in place, Geisinger also is leveraging ProviderMatch Analytics, an in-app analytics system within ProviderMatch Administrator, to gain new insight into consumer search behavior and trends to help staff continue to refine access and marketing strategies, she added.
Since launching the new systems, Geisinger has increased organic traffic to the website by nearly 30%, and increased provider data accuracy by 30%. Since provider data is dynamic and changes as providers’ access changes, locations change or what they are approved to treat changes, keeping data accurate is paramount to ensuring that consumers who search and then schedule an appointment are in fact identifying the best provider for their needs.
“We introduced a quarterly validation process using ProviderMatch Administrator, where operations leaders must review and approve all providers’ data, or that data will be hidden from the search results until validated,” Sommer noted.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“It is essential to think about provider search in terms of both consumer-focused and clinical terminology in order to build a robust search experience that can work well not only for consumers of varying education levels, but also for referring physicians,” Sommer advised.
“Establishing and maintaining a robust taxonomy to inform search often is highly underestimated in terms of effort, but can be the key piece in delivering a strong provider directory that meets both patient and provider expectations.”
The Business of Health
This special collection of stories, which will be updated throughout the month, explores how hospitals, health systems and physicians are attempting to not only financially survive, but thrive, under the new normal.