Is provider data holding digital health back?

By
Nate Fox
October 7, 2020
“I’m going through your search and I can’t find my family doctor. Why is that?”

I was sitting with a group of end users in rural Pennsylvania, helping them register and onboard onto our platform. As a product manager, my goal was to understand how users engaged with our product and to build features to keep them returning to our digital health platform throughout their healthcare journey.

This user was the wife of a warehouse worker for a major retailer. A mother of three, she was making the healthcare decisions for her family. Gaining her trust was important.

Together we opened the app and began to search for her family doctor, whom she’d seen for years. When a result for this doctor wasn’t returning, I started to think through a reasonable explanation to her question. Perhaps her doctor was now out of network? Could our search be down? Or had the health plan made a mistake in their latest directory update?

She was confident her doctor was still in-network and should have shown in the search results. Without clear answers to her questions, I felt that I had lost her trust. And I lost my own trust in a system of provider information that I realized was extremely flawed.

The “find-a-doctor” search is a critical feature to gain trust

My experience was a reminder that the “find-a-doctor” search is a fundamental first step to engaging employees on a new care navigation platform. It’s where loyalty is won and lost. And when it’s lost, that’s often because of poor provider data.

Provider data is broken in digital health

Like most people in the industry, I’ve learned that provider data is hard and broken. Whether you’re referring patients for care, reinventing a health plan’s user interface, or building an innovative platform, provider data is a problem that keeps coming back.

Many innovative product managers have invested significant resources in bringing transparency to healthcare, but are beholden to provider data’s accuracy and availability.

  • A 2018 CMS survey shows that nearly 50% of the information in health plans’ provider directories is inaccurate.
  • Provider information churns 30% year over year.
  • Given all this opportunity for inaccuracy, any and all of the aspects of a successful find-a-doctor experience are at risk.

This experience frustrates nearly everyone involved in the industry, from patients and employers to product, engineering, and customer service teams. Care navigation companies must devote significant resources to constantly correcting, maintaining, and updating data.

Give time back to your product and engineering teams

Engineering teams spend long cycles ingesting and normalizing provider directory data. What if these resources could be directed elsewhere? To build more personalization? To more predictive analytics? What if the pains of poor quality data could be removed?

Ribbon helps ease the burden of  provider data by giving organizations access to a nimble solution: a highly accurate, national provider data resource, delivered through flexible, modern APIs. Our API provides access to data on doctors (including detailed demographic information and affiliated location data), which insurance plans they accept (down to the plan name and network level), and the cost and quality of care that they deliver.

We’re experts at solving provider data problems—so our customers don’t have to be. Ribbon integrates alongside existing provider directory solutions, augmenting and enhancing the provider dataset. Customer teams spend less time on data and more time guiding patients to the right care.

I often think back to that day in Pennsylvania. With Ribbon in place, I could have helped my customer find her doctor. I want to provide peace-of-mind for consumers like her—or any of us when we need healthcare. And to prevent that moment of panic for other product managers, because Ribbon has improved connectivity within the healthcare space while helping our partners become more competitive. That’s why I’m proud to be at Ribbon.

Interested in our solution for Care Navigation? Read more in this datasheet.

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