How can I trust a stranger, whom I have never met, with the most precious asset—my health?
In the past, when selecting a provider, trust was established primarily through word of mouth referrals in addition to baseline qualifications such as education, licenses, and experience. This information allowed people to make judgments on both a provider’s character as well as their competence.
While these mechanisms still apply, the increasingly digital, fast-paced and less personal 21st-century world has largely replaced word of mouth with modern technologies. These technologies include 5-star rating systems for doctors, and more recently, advertising platforms that require providers to pay money to show up on a provider search function. However, these technologies fail to match patients with the right provider - and thus do both patients and providers a disservice.
Doctors dislike 5-star rating systems because they are:
1. Skewed to negative ratings - one or two poor ratings based on a misunderstanding can ruin a provider’s patient flow.
2. Patients want “the best” - only providers with the highest ratings will take a majority of the patients when in reality there are many more competent doctors with better availability than those with highest ratings.
3. Higher star ratings do not reflect fit - care providers with five stars are often not the best fit for the patient’s specific needs. Star ratings inherently cause sub-optimal patient traffic to each doctor, creating a poor experience for both parties.
In a similar vein, sponsored provider search ads have appeared recently in an attempt to mimic the paid search engine experience available on leading search engines.
However, sponsored provider search ads create a pay-to-play system that:
1. Rewards providers who spend on advertising instead of the physicians that are the best fit for each patient
2. Profits off the patient’s lack of knowledge, and lack of trust, about who their best provider should be
3. Treats providers and patients as commodities and not as humans looking to provide and receive care
Additionally, these technologies do not align with a provider’s or health system’s objectives. In a world where health systems need to drive triple aim to be successful, and volume-based care has been replaced with value-based care, quality, accuracy, and humanity need to be prioritized over volume, inaccuracy, and commodification.
DocASAP: Using Technology to Restore Trust in the Physician-Patient Relationship
Fortunately, there are technologies today that guide patients to the correct provider while aligning to the needs of providers and health systems. The most notable of these technologies is intelligent online appointment scheduling. Intelligent online appointment scheduling has many facets, all of which are central to its ability to meet the needs of patients, providers, and health systems.
The components of intelligent online appointment scheduling include:
1. Matches patients with the right providers in the right setting at the right time
2. Increases patient access to care through omni-channel pathways
3. Replicates the health system’s workflows, rules and protocols
4. Gives the provider 100% control over their schedules
The best care can be provided by matching patients to the optimal provider based on the patient’s needs. More importantly, in this model, providers and patients are treated as humans instead of commodities. Accurate clinical protocols ensures that patient needs are awarded the consideration they deserve, while accurate operational protocols drive patients to the right provider. Lastly, because DocASAP focuses on retaining patients within a health system, increased retention leads to longer-lasting relationships between the providers and patients.
To summarize, the physician-patient relationship can still be built on trust, even in today’s digital world. To achieve this, however, healthcare technologies must meet the needs of all parties and treat them as humans, not commodities.