Millions of people search for medical facility addresses and doctor phone numbers every day. Unfortunately, research by CMS shows that around 47% of online healthcare provider listings contain errors. Despite the frustration for patients and the negative business consequences, most providers aren’t taking the time to fix the problems.
“These inaccuracies pose a significant access-to-care barrier,” Medicare officials wrote in a report outlining the problems. In January, Federal officials warned 21 insurers that they could face large fines if issues are not corrected.
The problem isn’t limited to health insurance listings.
30 year ago, doctors only had to worry about their phone book listing once a year.
Now, providers may have their information on hundreds of sites like search engines, maps, review sites, and provider directories like HealthGrades and vitals.
Errors Spread like Wildfire
Search engines and listing websites depend on their systems to seek out provider information automatically. These systems search the web looking for information. This data is then assumed correct and published.
There is no human intervention.
Typical Example: A major insurer has your phone number or address wrong and publishes it in their directory. Healthgrades and Vitals pick up the incorrect info and publish it on their site. Then, sites like Yellow Pages, Super Pages, and many more scrape the info from the larger sites and also publish the incorrect info.
It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s not likely or reasonable to expect every website on the internet to have the correct information. However, by concentrating on a few primary information sources you can greatly improve the chances your patients will see accurate info.
- Your Website – This may seem obvious, but double check that your physical address (including suite numbers) and contact information is correct for each location and provider.
- Google – The search giant is typically a primary source for other listings, but will also use artificial intelligence to update their local listings. It’s important to claim or create listings for all practice locations and providers. Keeping them up to date is just as important. Learn more: How to Optimize your Google Local Listings
- For Medical Practice Locations: Yelp business listing, Bing business listing
- For individual providers: HealthGrades, Vitals, WebMD
- Anything else on the first page of Google results when searching for your practice or individual provider.
There are hundreds of sites that contain information, but focusing on these will do the most good and take care of most errors that patients may actually see.
Bonus Tip #1:
Once you complete your Google listing(s), you can export all the information to an excel document. This can be sent to your insurance carriers along with a request for them to update any listings they may have (physical or digital).
Bonus Tip #2:
Some websites, like Healthgrades, allow you to complete an excel worksheet with provider info, websites, contact information. This is the best option for large practices with lots of providers. If you’re a large practice, mention this option up front in your HealthGrades contact/email. Healthgrades takes 2-3 business days to respond to each email, and often you’re referred around to other departments.