by Stacy Byers, VP Digital Strategy, Highmark Health
February 12, 2019
Something as simple, and as important, as finding the right doctor online is difficult, unsatisfying, and usually rudimentary.
Most online “find a doctor” tools reveal an office address and phone number, office hours, and specialty. But these tools tell you nothing about that doctor’s philosophy about care, whether he or she is all business or thinks a warm, conversational manner is important. Most people wouldn’t hire a gardener with that little upfront information.
Highmark Health, the second largest integrated health care delivery and financing network in the nation, set out to change all that. We believe that long-lasting relationships are built on compatibility and trust, and that a great relationship with your doctor can lead to better health outcomes. But we know that many adults don’t have a regular doctor at all, and if they do, they might be staying with a doctor who isn’t a great fit because it’s too hard to find a better match and it’s a hassle to make a switch.
We wanted to make it easier for people to find the doctor of their dreams, so we created Doctor Match, an online matching tool measuring nearly 20 dimensions of compatibility between patients and doctors. Dimensions range from traditional factors like appointment wait time to more personal factors like alternative treatment options and patient input into decision-making.
Using input from thousands of patients and doctors, we tested multiple iterations of the survey using an analytic technique called Item Response Theory. This examined the individual item and total survey responses to ensure a big enough difference between the doctors’ answers to make them meaningful and noticeable. We coupled the resulting algorithm with an intuitive, human-centered design experience across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices make it easy and fun for people to find the best doctor to meet their unique personal needs.
DoctorMatchQuiz.com is the health care equivalent of online dating. Fresh, intriguing, on-demand, and a breakthrough experience for the industry. The tool has resulted in people scheduling more than 3,000 appointments in the 10 months following launch. In follow-up surveys, 89 percent of Dr. Match users agreed that the tool made them feel more confident that the doctor found would be a “good fit” compared to traditional tools. And the matches seem to be working—over 40 percent of people who found a doctor using the tool have already scheduled a second appointment, which suggests the relationship is off to a great start.
It was a win for patients, a win for doctors, a win for Highmark Health, and most importantly a win for the general health of Highmark’s health plan members. Remember, patients who are satisfied with their physician are much more likely to schedule regular office visits, maintain their health regimens, and lower their own health care costs over time, which is good for everyone.