It’s almost a new year — woohoo!  Resolution time!  Fresh start!  And for many patients, brand new insurance!

For many patients with new insurance, it’s also time to shop for new doctors.  When they do, will they find you?

By now you probably already know that there are many resources out there to help you with online reputation management (including lots of software products, and publications like this book by yours truly). But an often-overlooked part of online reputation management is especially important early in the year: payer directories.

Patients rely on payer directories both when they shop for a new plan (if they want to keep their doctor(s), they’ll want to be sure they’re in the new plan) and when they start to use the plan (to choose a new doctor(s)).

Both of these moments are among your very best opportunities to attract a patient who has just secured a plan you accept — just the kind of patient you want. But if you’re not listed in the directory, or not listed properly, your chance to attract that patients just slipped through your hands.  It’s just as if your practice intentionally turned the patient away — if your payer directory listings are not correct, the effect is no different.

It may seem to you (as a sensible person) that payers should make sure their directories are accurate. And indeed they should. But, unfortunately, errors abound. Maintaining directories, it turns out, is a very difficult job.  While it shouldn’t be your job, unless you assume some responsibility for monitoring these listings, you can’t be sure they’re correct; if they’re wrong, it’s  your business that pays the price. Plus, in some cases, online payer directories are adding features like photos and website links that can give your practice a promotional boost. You can’t access these new features unless someone at your practice is engaging with these directories and keeping them updated and polished.

Make checking and updating the directories of all your payers a top priority for the New Year. Finding and fixing even one erroneous entry can make a significant difference in your practice’s flow of new patients and revenue in 2016.

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