As part of its continuing push to simultaneously educate patients and connect them with nearby physicians, Healthgrades has rolled out PatientConnect Video. The company says the new offering taps its wealth of data and employs AI tactics to eliminate uncertainty among patients wanting more information on a given provider.

“Every ad says, ‘Talk to your doctor,’ but none of them actually help you find that doctor,” says Healthgrades SVP, business intelligence John Mangano.

To that end, when a consumer watches content about, say, psoriasis, PatientConnect steers them towards providers with relevant treatment experience. Materials shared at the end of the content might include contact information for nearby physicians, information about the insurance they accept or patient reviews.

“The technology is there to link a video message with specific doctors who are mostly likely to be able to help patients with a condition,” Mangano notes.

PatientConnect marks a natural evolution for Healthgrades. While the company has never been a data play – it traditionally ranks among the top find-a-doc platforms and the top providers of marketing CRM to health systems – it has managed to accumulate loads of information along the way, both about patients and physicians.

“It took a lot of work to put together the data set that we have. It’s something that’s unique to us,” Mangano adds.

So when Healthgrades started to notice what EVP, marketing and strategy Burt Kann calls “a meaningful change in the way people shop for doctors,” the company went to work, ultimately rolling some of its component parts into the PatientConnect offering. “It used to be you’d either get a referral from a friend or another doctor, or you’d pretty much guess. We’re finally starting to see real consumerism when it comes to shopping for a physician,” Kann continues.

They’ve got a horse in the race, clearly, but Kann and Mangano believe the advanced degree of choice is long overdue. Kann points to a recent Binary Fountain study, which revealed that 60% of consumers check an HCP’s online ratings and reviews, even when they’ve already been referred by another provider. That figure is up from 16% in 2018.

“There’s not an industry out there that people can’t research to determine what really is best in a given category,” Mangano says. “We’ve been taught to do this for smaller transactions – and health is more important than, you know, restaurants.”

Kann agrees with a laugh, adding, “The most important relationship you choose on your own is your partner. The second most important one is your physician… You don’t get to choose who your parents or kids are.”

While PatientConnect marks a technological step forward for Healthgrades, don’t look for the company to abandon the lower-fi products that preceded it, like what Mangano characterizes as a “super-valuable” direct-mail product.

“It doesn’t sound sexy to talk about direct mail – but the reality is, because health is still fundamentally a hyper-local business, direct mail really works,” Kann says. “It works as well today as it did 30 years ago. The medium itself isn’t always as important as the application of data outside it.”