Transparency is working—now what?
Congratulations! After months of campaigning, making your case, and securing buy-in from leadership, you’ve managed to deploy a transparency program across your organization.
From a marketing and web-presence perspective, it’s been a quick success. Providers and services are appearing at the top of search results, online traffic has surged, and you’re starting to see a corresponding rise in patient volume. You couldn’t be happier.
Yet you can’t help but wonder if you could be doing more. With all this new patient data coming in, are there ways you could deploy it to improve your organization?
The answer, of course, is yes.
Properly used, sharing patient feedback produces effects that don’t stop at the website. When you start publishing star ratings and reviews, what you learn can drive innovative thinking and institutional improvement.
A flexible transparency program allows you to change how patients see review information. It gives you a variety of strategies to try. You can experiment with different publishing tactics to see what resonates with your patients.
If, while leaving feedback, patients tend to respond very positively to a specific survey question, you can highlight the answers on your provider directory website. That way, the site will foreground what resonates with your customers.
Alternatively, you can also produce customized provider report cards. These can succinctly capture a provider’s strengths, and provide you with an easy shorthand for communicating their value.
Finally, on your provider directory website, you can arrange for filters that can sort providers by their star rankings. Patients will be grateful for the ease in navigation.
Deeper feedback analysis
NRC Health’s transparency program automatically evaluates feedback using Natural Language Processing (NLP). By combing every review for emotionally charged key words, NLP can sort patient feedback by sentiment and theme, revealing commonalities that you might have missed.
You might notice, for example, that patients from a particular department consistently leave reviews that sound frustrated or angry. Looking deeper into what each patient says, you might discover that they all have similar complaints about, say, the registration process: it’s unclear, it takes too long, it’s disorganized.
This gives you an opportunity to resolve the problem before it negatively impacts your reputation. Being transparent allows you to manage problems as they arise.
Targeted behavior change
Opportunities for improvement may be even more subtle, and based on physician behavior that you never would have noticed.
For example, at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, the hospital’s transparency program pointed out a simple misconception, which a physician never realized was occuring. The doctor, otherwise well-regarded by patients, started receiving reviews that claimed he never washed his hands before appointments.
Of course, no responsible clinician would neglect to wash their hands, and this UAMS doctor was no exception. But he realized that he had been washing his hands using the hallway facilities, outside of the patient’s view. From that point on, he made a point of washing his hands in the room, in front of patients—and it made a world of difference. Suddenly, his reviews were nearly flawless.
If it hadn’t been for feedback from the transparency program, these patients would have gone on believing that their doctor never washed his hands. That could have done untold damage to his reputation—and the hospital’s.
Transparency’s transformative power
UAMS succeeded not just because it invested in a transparency program, but because it leveraged the platform’s unique strengths to drive improvement.
Leaders at UAMS thought carefully about how feedback data should be sorted and accounted for. They also made it available and accessible to staff members, so that staff members could see where they stood. Then, perhaps most importantly of all, they made room for the institution’s stakeholders to improve themselves.
By bringing performance out into the open and honoring clinician autonomy, a transparency program inspires staff to do better, more than any incentive program ever could. Being transparent with your patients can be a remarkable engine for change at your institution, too.