Provider Focus Areas: unlocking the next generation of provider search

Nate Maslak
July 13, 2021

With the help of data and machine learning, finding the right doctor just got easier.

Think about the last time you had to find a doctor. You were likely looking for help—either because you or a loved one were in pain—and unsure where to go. Searching for care is such a common experience for any patient or caregiver that we frequently accept that it is a painful and challenging process. At one point or another, we’ve each probably found ourselves trying to figure out whether the doctor our friend recommended still practices at the clinic down the street or what providers take our insurance.

That basic information is just the tip of the iceberg of pain surrounding finding the right doctor.  When just getting basic information about a doctor—any doctor—is challenging, finding out whether a provider has the right specialty and experience for your personal health needs can seem like an impossible task. Far too often, patients spend significant time in a painful cycle of trial and error that can have serious—and sometimes permanent—consequences.

What makes the process of finding a provider so challenging for many Americans?

It’s complicated, but a significant part of the challenge comes down to data: The U.S. health system’s data infrastructure is simply not set up to support patients. Our health data infrastructure failings are particularly evident in how we categorize providers: when patients are looking for a specialist, terms such as gastroenterology, obstetrics-gynecology, or otolaryngology can help narrow the search—but not by much.

These broad categories reflect a providers’ academic specialties and make sense for the administration of healthcare (clinical learning, contracting, etc.). But they’re unhelpful for patients and can be incredibly confusing. After all, “gastroenterology” is rarely the first word that comes to mind when someone has stomach pain.

Parsing through and verifying doctors’ information shouldn’t fall on patients, and at Ribbon, we’re committed to addressing these complex problems to simplify healthcare for all. We’ve made great strides in ensuring people can access accurate information on provider demographics, locations, and insurances accepted, but along the way, we realized a critical piece of information was still missing: How do we know that a provider can actually address a specific condition or provide a particular treatment?

We spent the last few months working through how we could add more dimension to provider specialty information. Now, we’ve launched Provider Focus Areas, the healthcare industry’s first machine learning-based solution that pairs clinical expertise with claims analytics to enable personalized provider recommendations using simple, intuitive terms.

Provider Focus Areas uncovers rich, granular information about providers that includes:

  • The types of patients they see
  • The conditions they treat
  • The treatments they perform
Provider Focus Areas gives patients and caregivers better information to find providers that are the best fit for their health needs.

Instead of facing blanket terms like “mental health,” they can see that a provider specializes in anxiety for older adults. Rather than being confused by a slew of terms like “atopic dermatitis” and “flexural eczema,” they can simply see “eczema” and immediately know what it means.

Provider Focus Areas will also transform how healthcare organizations match patients with providers. With higher quality “Find A Doctor” tools powered by meaningful provider profiles and intuitive search experiences, healthcare organizations can confidently direct care, lower the total cost of care, and improve patient experiences.

It’s exciting to know that our core infrastructure and provider data will empower others across the industry to innovate better tools and experiences more quickly. With partners like Firefly Health and Health Karma, we’re already seeing the impact that Provider Focus Areas can have on patient experiences and delivering better care.

We’re working with innovators to simplify healthcare and make it easy to find the right care. If you’re interested in how you can use Provider Focus Areas to drive high-quality, cost-effective, and convenient healthcare decisions, get in touch with us.

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