It is not uncommon for healthcare systems to include affiliated physicians in their service networks. These are professionals who are technically not employed by a healthcare system but who provide services to that Hospital’s patients. If you are one such healthcare system, make sure you pay close attention to how you represent your affiliates in the digital world.
Most of the time, both employed and affiliated physicians are displayed on an organization’s find-a-doc tool. What we rarely see along with the find-a-doc tool is both employed and affiliate doctors with their physician data managed and distributed to places like Google.
I stress both because there is a huge downside if you fail to manage and distribute this information: leaving an affiliated physician’s GMB listing unclaimed results in inaccurate data and confused patients.
How this is relevant in daily life:
When searching for care, I never go to a hospital website to find a provider. I use Google search to find a doctor with the closest location to me, and I am not alone in doing so.
I recently searched “primary care near me.” Two providers that showed up in my search had unclaimed listings: they had no link to their website, one had an incorrect address, and the other an incorrect phone number. After doing some research, I learned that these were in fact affiliated physicians. Both of those hospitals just lost my business. I immediately hopped to the third provider listed— it was claimed with correct information, and had a link to their provider page to find out more information.
The provider with the accurate and complete listing just got my business. Of course, behind the scenes, that listing had to be claimed and distributed. My visit more than paid for the small fee to claim and update the information. Now consider how often my experience happens and at what scale. To illustrate: For one of our smaller clients, a single listing for one provider showed up in 121,294 searches over a span of five months.
Why would Google list incomplete physician and location data? Because no one is bothering to keep the information up to date, and Google is trying to best predict what the information may be. So Google, lacking guidance, lists the data it just parsed the Internet for.
The disconnect creates obvious problems:
- Patients who visit the address listed on the unclaimed GMB listings risk visiting the wrong location—further having to reschedule.
- The providers with poorly kept listings will both have their brands tarnished by a patient’s bad experience.
No one wins in this situation.
The solution to this problem is simple in most cases: healthcare systems need to include comprehensive data management as part of the onboarding process for any physician associated with their brands, both employed and affiliated. That data management plan needs to address all the places where people look for care. I will note that this is a particularly unique problem in states such as California, where there can be regulations on promoting physicians.
Most importantly: make sure this solution is revenue generating, and make sure you’re getting reporting on actions taken.
The benefits to managing affiliate physicians as employees are a better patient onboarding experience for your healthcare system and a measure of protection for your brand.
Contact SIM Partners for more insight.