Highmark’s new website helps patients find 'Dr. Right'

Read Advisory Board's take on this story.

Finding the right doctor is important for patients, but it's not always easy. That's why Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware launched "Doctor Match," a website that matches patients with doctors based on a series of compatibility questions.

New report: How to create a consumer focused digital strategy

Charles DeShazer, Highmark's CMO, said the insurer launched the website in response to patients' interest in using the internet to find ratings, reviews, and other information about potential doctors. DeShazer said Highmark also discovered that patients often define their quality of care by their relationship with their doctor rather than the care they receive.

How it works

Patients who visit Doctor Match are able to specify whether they're looking for a primary care doctor or an OB-GYN and enter their ZIP code. Then, they take a quiz of about 30 questions that measure around 20 "dimensions of compatibility," according to Highmark officials.

The questions address patients' personal preferences about a physician, such as whether they would prefer a doctor who's talkative and warm, and whether they would prefer a doctor who practices alternative medicine. The quiz also asks patients if it's OK for nurses or staff to call them about their health information or if they would prefer that call to come from a doctor.

After the patient completes the quiz, the site calculates their top matches based on a compatibility match score. These results can then be narrowed based on factors like preferred gender, languages spoken, and specialty.

Once a patient selects a doctor's profile, the site informs the patient whether the doctor is a "top match" for them and what values they share from the compatibility quiz, as well as whether the doctor is accepting new patients and the doctor's contact information.

The quiz is available to non-Highmark members as well (Newman, The News Journal, 6/7; Haefner, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/8).

Advisory Board's take

Anna Yakovenko, Practice Manager, Market Innovation Center, and Emily Zuehlke Heuser, Consultant, Market Innovation Center

Highmark's platform is similar to several others—including Pardee Hospital's Pardee Select, Shawnee Mission's MyHealthKC, and Amino Health's matching platform—that connect consumers with providers who not only meet their clinical needs but share similar characteristics and approaches to care.

This is health care's version of customization, and it matters a great deal to consumers. In our Primary Care Physician Consumer Loyalty Survey, we identified that PCP loyalty (measured by patients' likelihood to stay with their PCP, follow them to a new location, and recommend them to friends or family) was positively correlated with only four factors out of 27 evaluated. These factors were all interpersonal in nature, including:

  • Trust PCP to make right diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment
  • PCP respects me
  • PCP explains possible causes of illness and helps me stay healthy in the future
  • The staff are patient and helpful

Other factors, such as wait time, relationship length, or time spent per appointment, were all less important for long-term loyalty than these interpersonal factors.

As competition for patients increases, we anticipate seeing more efforts like these "best fit" matching tools that both appeal to consumers looking for a customized care experience and can secure their loyalty through enhanced patient-physician relationships.

To learn about six other digital strategies that can help you both attract and retain consumers, read our new research brief on creating a consumer-focused digital strategy.

Download the Report


Next in the Daily Briefing

ACO roundup: Highmark's value-based PCP program saves $260M

Read now