Provider data is messy, complex, and ever-changing, and navigating it all can be labyrinthine for organizations as well as as patients. Fortunately, at Doctor. com, we have years of experience working with hospitals and helping them make sense of their data. Central to understanding it all is the concept of location data. We know how to categorize it, how to organize it, and, most importantly, how to connect it all together. But before we jump into the importance of location data, let’s take a step back and orient ourselves.
Is your data set up for how consumers are actually searching?
When consumers take to the internet to begin researching care, they do it in one of three main ways:
- By doctor: Patients often look first for a specific type of provider — e.g., “best orthopaedic surgeon.”
- By service: Searching for a type of medical procedure is also common, like someone looking for ACL surgeries.
- By location: Other times, the focus will be on proximity, such as a patient searching for MRI clinics near his house.
Some organizations choose to focus heavily on provider profiles with searches for doctors and services while neglecting the power of location data. In doing so, however, they are missing out on a key segment of potential patients — the ones searching by location.
Patients need robust location data
The importance of location data truly cannot be overstated. Much of the process of finding a doctor, as we discussed before, can come down to proximity, especially in emergent situations. And once they do narrow down and select the right doc, patients need to be able to find their chosen doctor at the correct address and with the right phone number. Here’s a brief overview of the role optimized location data plays in your digital presence.
- Search engine optimization: When consumers search for care “near them” or by location, such as “urgent care centers in Chicago,” you want to ensure that you’re at the top of the results.
- Listings: Many of the most important consumer-facing sites like Google create profiles for entire locations, and not just providers. Having top-notch location data enables you to cover all your bases.
- Scheduling: If you don’t have location entities in your database, it can create additional work for you to allow consumers to look up and book appointments at the location level. Worst case scenario, you’ll have to have two entirely separate scheduling mechanisms.
The pitfalls of not having optimized location data
What happens when you don’t optimize location data? It can get extremely complicated. Firstly, it puts an extraordinary burden on organizations to create locations on the fly. It’s important to remember that even if you don’t optimize your location data, you’re still going to have to address problems with it when they arise. Quick fixes of attaching locations and providers to each other using mere text fields creates an environment ripe for errors dues to misspellings, duplicates, and alternative aliases. Second, lack of sufficient location data can result in incorrect patient-facing information, resulting in frustration and potentially lost patients. Perhaps most importantly, though, is that you’re not meeting patients every way they’re searching — and that can be costly.
There’s more to a better match than doctor profiles. Doctor.com has more than 20 years’ experience in handling provider data — we know how it works, inside and out, as well as the complications and complexities that arise from organizing it. If you’re interested in discussing our successful approach to location data, email [email protected].