Somewhere, there’s a doctor out there who’s perfect for you.
Highmark Inc. and Allegheny Health Network have come up with a new online tool, similar to online dating, to help make that connection a reality.
On Wednesday, Highmark unveiled “Doctor Match,” an online survey that measures a person’s health care philosophy and needs. The goal is to link a patient to a prospective doctor.
Patients looking for a new primary care physician or ob/gyn can use Doctor Match to link up with one of more than 700 participating doctors within 10 miles of their home.
Consumers who visit DrMatchQuiz.com, will be able to fill out a 10-minute survey that measures things ranging from a person’s preference for alternative medicine to their taste for a doctor who’s friendly and talkative.
Here’s an example: “Which one describes you most? I like a doctor who smiles and chats during my appointment. Or, The doctor should respect my time and get right to the point.”
“We are social beings,” said Dr. Charles DeShazer, chief medical officer for Highmark. “Technology such as the internet and mobile apps can help us to be more social and make it easier to meet people, even doctors.”
DeShazer told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday that Highmark and AHN believe compatibility between patient and doctor builds trust and a longstanding relationship. He said Highmark created a proprietary algorithm for the tool, believed to the first of its kind.
Highmark cited a Pew Research Center poll that shows 50 million American adults today who have tried online dating sites or mobile dating apps.
“At Highmark, we’ve also seen that our members use online tools to look for reviews, ratings and other information on doctors,” said DeShazer said. “But switching to a new doctor and transferring your medical records can be a daunting task – 40 percent of people say it’s a hassle to switch doctors.”
After completing the survey and choosing a new doctor, Highmark said it helps schedule an appointment and transfer medical records.
Stacy Byers, director of digital marketing for Highmark Health, said developers began work on Doctor Match in March.
“Health care hasn’t always kept up with consumer expectation, so this is really exciting for us,” she said. “This is less about technology, but more about building that relationship between patient and doctor.”
DeShaser said it was important for the tool to include questions about preference for alternative medicine, such as acupunctures, because many doctors are incorporating those options into care.
“There is emerging science to support use of alternative treatments for specific conditions,” he said.
Highmark already has hosted 40 “Meet Dr. Right” events which resemble speed-dating gatherings in which patients meet and greet potential doctors in person.
“Doctor Match tool is a natural extension of our efforts to help consumers find the right doctor because a positive relationship with a doctor leads to positive health outcomes,” said Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger.