The Usability Blog
A Practical Guide to User Experience Insights

Finding a Healthcare Provider – Part 3

Provider Profile Details page

In Parts 1 and 2 of “Finding a Healthcare Provider,” we covered the best practices of medical insurer site search features found on 3 sites: Aetna, United Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas during June 2014. In this post, we will look at the provider profile. While examining several insurer sites, we found that the amount and type of provider information, as well as the way it was displayed, varies. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) links from the search results page to a provider profile page that displays contact information, office hours, clinic and hospital affiliations and education and residency locations on one easy-to-scan page. This site also lists accepted networks and plans, whether the provider was accepting new patients and a map. This is the only insurer site of the 3 we examined that includes office hours.

 Provider details on the BCBSTX site

Aetna also links from the search results to a provider profile page with similar basic contact, educational and plan/network information. However, the information is contained within several collapsed panels that must be opened all at once or individually, which requires extra effort in order to view all of the information at once. Of the 3 sites we reviewed for this post, Aetna is the only one that displays information on “Electronic Communication Capabilities,” which consist of the ePrescribing program and a function to share electronic health records.

 Aetna provider details

The United Healthcare site also displays basic contact, educational and plan/network information, as well as certifications and hospital affiliations in a pop-up window. This overlay format makes it easy to review provider profiles without leaving the search results page. However, the United Healthcare site lacks information on whether the provider is accepting new patients.

 United Healthcare provider details

Finally, all 3 sites reviewed for this article include options to print or email or text message details; many users prefer to have their own copies of this information for later reference, so it’s important to provide this functionality.

 Options to email and print provider details on the BCBSTX site

When selecting a healthcare provider, most people consider many factors, such as the provider’s educational background or where the office is located. An insurer site can make this task easier by clearly presenting the most relevant information users need for making their decision.

Best Practices

Some best practices for the provider profile page:

  • Provide a comprehensive list of specialties and clinical interests, especially for broad fields such as orthopedics and oncology.
  • Display complete information so that users can easily make an appointment (number to call, address and map location, office hours/days, whether the provider is accepting new patients, accepted insurance plans, etc.).
  • Provide additional information that is relevant for selecting a provider, such as educational background and residency, number of years in practice, types of procedures done, etc.
  • Provide multiple ways for users to refer to the provider details later (printing or sending details via email or text messaging).

A 2013 study of U.S. patients1 by Software Advice found that 62% use online reviews (such as Yelp! or Healthgrades) as the “first step to find[ing] [a] new doctor.” With this increasing demand, it is important for insurer sites to simplify the process for researching providers and services, as well as provide relevant information that is easy for users to access and comprehend. By building an intelligent site search as outlined in our 3-part series, insurers can add value to their sites by meeting their customers’ needs and enhancing their search experience.

 -Judy Kistler-Robinson, Senior User Experience SpecialistUsability Sciences 

-Linda Hwang, Senior User Experience AnalystUsability Sciences


  1. Melissa McCormack, “How Your Patients Are Using Online Reviews,” Software Advice IndustryView 2013, December 4, 2013, http://www.softwareadvice.com/medical/industryview/how-patients-use-onli…


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