Like a dating app, CHI Health’s new website matches patients with doctors who fit their needs

Like a dating app, CHI Health’s new website matches patients with doctors who fit their needs
CHI Health St. Mary's Hospital in Nebraska City (Photo Courtesy: CHI Health)

You’re looking for a new doctor, but you have no idea where to start.

And you want a good fit, someone who gets you.

A new website launched by CHI Health — on Valentine’s Day, no less — takes a page from popular dating apps, using an algorithm to help potential patients find a doctor who suits their needs and matches their profile.

Matches are drawn from more than 130 CHI Health-employed physicians and advanced practice providers in primary care and women’s health.

“They’re just looking for more information to make a good decision,” CHI Health’s Julie Gernetzke said of patients. “It makes finding a provider less complicated.”

From a health standpoint, having a good relationship with a trusted doctor can help patients head off chronic conditions or keep them under control.

Gernetzke, vice president of medical group operations, said patients may ask a friend for a recommendation or go to online reviews when looking for a physician.

But the algorithm behind the free website — — can do more to connect patients with what they’re looking for.

It works like this:

» Potential patients visit the website and answer 14 questions. Many gauge attitudes toward health care. The first, for instance, asks patients to respond on a scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree to the statement, “I believe that I can directly influence how long I will live, regardless of my family history.” Providers already have answered the questions and 16 additional ones that delve into the way they practice and the types of patients that might best fit them.

» Patients then get a list of provider matches. They can further refine the list according to a host of other factors, including gender, experience, location, language and interests such as cooking, exercise and family. Patients can click on providers and read about their backgrounds, including their education. Video interviews are included for most.

» Most providers’ pages also have a button patients can click on to schedule an appointment. Patients also can save their results.

The product is the only one of its kind in the area. It comes as other area health systems take steps of their own to connect with patients.

Nebraska Medicine’s website has videos that allow patients to get acquainted with providers before their visit. The health system in 2017 launched its own star-based rating system that includes comments from previous patients.

Methodist Health System also has tools, including physician profiles and videos, that offer patients insights into its providers.

The doctor-matching product is provided by a company called MD MatchUp. Bob Waddell, vice president, said the product launched as a pilot with a health system in the Kansas City area. The company rebranded the product MyProviderMatch for CHI Health’s use in Nebraska.

In the first 22 months in the Kansas City system, he said, 1,700 new and current patients went through the site, found a provider match and then made and kept an appointment with the provider. Those who took the quiz came back for one to two more appointments in a year than those who didn’t.

“What that tells us is they’re finding a provider they’re meshing well with, and they’re enjoying that,” Waddell said.

Providers provided positive feedback, as well. “They’re seeing more patients who fit the way they do medicine,” he said.

The company is just starting to roll out the program on a national level. The algorithm it uses is based on 30 years of health care research by a data scientist who started at Procter & Gamble and additional information from a health care IT partner.

CHI Health’s Gernetzke said patients are becoming more educated about their options and are leveraging technology to do so.

“We want to provide what our consumers are looking for,” she said. “With so much information out there, this gives them that connection, too.”