MercyOne has piloted a new patient-provider matching tool that aims to make it easier for patients to connect with a primary care physician. MercyOne worked with Patient Bond, started by former Procter & Gamble employees, to develop the online tool, said Janell Pittman, chief marketing and digital strategy officer for MercyOne. The 11-question quiz was developed from an inventory of 384 different attributes that the company narrowed down to the ones that best characterize people’s health attitudes. Pittman said to her knowledge, it’s the first tool like it offered by a health system in Iowa.

The quiz asks prospective patients to rate their level of agreement or disagreement with statements such as “I believe that I can directly influence how long I live, regardless of my family history" and “I prefer alternative medicine to standard medical practice,” to help align people’s attitudes with physicians that share similar views.

The initiative has been tested in MercyOne’s Central Iowa market, and later this month will be rolled out across all of MercyOne’s health care markets to include all adult primary care and family care physicians who are accepting new patients. Primary care physicians who are accepting new patients completed the surveys, “so that after a consumer completes a survey, they will be matched with one of those 190,” Pittman said. The product is meant to address the large percentage of adults in Iowa who do not have a primary care physician to schedule for routine or emerging health concerns.

The new initiative grew out of requests made by MercyOne staff amid the pandemic, in a conversation about how to improve connections with health consumers. “This is one of the things that came out of that, because we talked about traditional health being like an obstacle course,” Pittman said. “And we realized that’s not what we want health care to be for our consumers. … The better the relationship you have with your care team, the more likely you are to follow the recommendations of your provider.” Other improvements already launched as a result of those discussions have included online scheduling and virtual visits, she said, and another new tool is scheduled to be introduced next month.

Pittman said MercyOne’s plan is to make the patient-provider matching tool a permanent feature systemwide, and the people they’ve shared the new tool with so far have been excited about it. “Actually, one of the leaders who was involved in creating it is new to the area, and waited to select his primary care provider until the tool was live so that he could use it. So he had a personal investment in making sure that we got things going.”

The Patient-Provider Matching Tool can be found at this page on the MercyOne website.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct that Patient Bond was started by former Procter & Gamble employees, and that the 190 physicians represents the number of providers who took the survey overall