Title:
PATIENT DIRECT CONNECT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An online service provider information service provides users with the ability to contact service centers. The service provides the ability for service centers to participate in the service as a sponsor. A user requests information regarding a particular service provider or service. In response, a webpage is generated with the requested information. Unique contact identifiers are associated with the sponsors that allow a user to connect to the sponsor service center and are included in the webpage. The unique identifiers allow the service to track the success of directing users to the sponsored service centers based on their participation in the information service. The unique identifiers also allow for implementing pay per search payment schemes and for generating reports based on the sponsor's participation in the information service.



Inventors:
Neal, Michael John (Tampa, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/613822
Publication Date:
03/25/2010
Filing Date:
11/06/2009
Assignee:
Health Grades, Inc. (Golden, CO, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
709/203, 715/810
International Classes:
G06F15/16; G06F3/048
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
RIEGLER, PATRICK F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD PC (P.O. BOX 2903, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402-0903, US)
Claims:
1. A computer storage medium encoding computer executable instructions that, when executed on a processor, perform a method of generating a webpage providing a user access to medical service providers via a sponsoring service center, the method comprising: receiving, at a server, a request from a client for a medical service provider; determining a type of the request; based upon the determination, generating a webpage providing the client access to the sponsoring service center, wherein the webpage comprises one or more unique contact numbers that are available on the generated webpage, the one or more unique numbers selected depending on the context of the webpage and the location of the one or more unique numbers on the webpage; and providing access to the medical service provider by sending the generated webpage to the client, wherein the one or more unique contact numbers is used to connect the client to the sponsoring service center.

2. The computer storage medium of claim 1, wherein the request from the client comprises a request for a medical service provider comprising a particular specialty and a particular geographic location.

3. The computer storage medium of claim 2, wherein the generated webpage is a search result webpage comprising: a first unique contact number for a first sponsoring service center; a list of a first set of medical service providers affiliated with the sponsoring service center; and a list of a second set of medical service providers not affiliated with the sponsoring service center, wherein the list of the second set of medical providers is located in a separate area from the list of the first set of medical service providers.

4. The computer storage medium of claim 1, wherein the type of request from the client comprises a request for a specific medical service provider affiliated with a sponsoring service center, and wherein the generated webpage comprises: a first unique contact number that provides access to the sponsoring service provider; and information about the specific medical service provider.

5. The computer storage medium of claim 4, wherein the first unique contact number provides an indication that the client was directed to the sponsoring service center based on the request for the specific medical service provider.

6. The computer storage medium of claim 1, wherein the type of request from the client comprises a request for a specific medical service provider not affiliated with the sponsoring service center, and wherein the generated webpage comprises: a first unique contact number that provides access to the sponsoring service center, wherein the first unique contact number indicates that the client was directed to the sponsoring service center from a webpage displaying information about a non-sponsored service provider not affiliated with the sponsoring service center; information about the sponsoring service center; and information about the non-sponsored medical service provider.

7. The computer storage medium of claim 6, wherein the sponsoring service provider is selected from a list of one or more sponsoring service providers, wherein the selected sponsoring service provider is affiliated with service providers that have the same specialty and geographic location as a specified non-sponsored service provider not affiliated with the sponsoring service.

8. The computer storage medium of claim 1 further comprising computer executable instructions that, when executed by the processor, perform the steps of: analyzing the generated webpage to determine that the generated webpage comprises one or more unique contact numbers; determining one or more sponsoring medical service centers associated with the one or more unique contact numbers; and charging the account of the one or more sponsoring medical service centers.

9. The computer storage medium of claim 8, wherein an amount charged to the one or more sponsoring service centers depends on the type and location of the one or more unique contact numbers in the generated webpage.

10. The computer storage medium of claim 1, further comprising computer executable instructions that, when executed by the processor, perform the steps of: receiving information from the sponsoring service center; retrieving a count of the number of times a unique contact number related to the sponsoring service center has been included in one or more generated webpages; comparing the received information against the count; and generating a report specifying the rate of successfully directing a client to the sponsoring service center.

11. The computer storage medium of claim 1, further comprising instructions that, when executed by the processor, perform the step of including code in the generated webpage to display a rollover pop-up display.

12. A system for providing information related to medical service providers to a user, the system comprising: a processing unit; and a memory coupled to the processing unit, the memory encoding computer executable instructions that, when executed by the processing unit, perform a method of generating information related to medical service providers, the method comprising: receiving a first request from a user at a client computer, wherein the first request comprises a request for information related to one or more medical service providers, the request comprising a geographic location and a specialty; generating a search result webpage comprising: a first unique contact number, the first unique contact number allowing the user to connect to the sponsoring service provider, wherein the first unique contact number indicates that the user was directed to the sponsoring service provider from the search result webpage; a list of a first set of medical service providers affiliated with the sponsoring service center; and a list of a second set of medical service providers not affiliated with the sponsoring service center, wherein the list of the second set of medical providers is located below the list of the first set of medical service providers; sending the search result webpage to the user at the client computer; receiving a second request from the user at the client computer, wherein the second request comprises a request for information related to a specific medical service provider affiliated with the sponsoring service center; generating a second webpage comprising: a second unique contact number that provides access to the sponsoring service provider, the second unique contact number indicates that the user was directed to the sponsoring service provider from the second webpage, and wherein the second unique contact number is different from the first unique contact number; and information about the specific medical service provider; and sending the second webpage to the user at the client computer.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein the memory further comprises computer executable instructions that, when executed by the processing unit, perform steps comprising: receiving a third request from the user at the client computer, wherein the third request comprises a request for information related to a non-sponsored medical service provider not affiliated with the sponsoring service center; generating a third webpage comprising: a third unique contact number that provides access to the sponsoring service provider, the third unique contact number indicates that the user was directed to the sponsoring service provider from the third webpage, and wherein the third unique contact number is different from the first and second unique contact numbers; information about the sponsoring service center; and information about the non-sponsored medical service provider not affiliated with the sponsoring service center.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the information about the sponsored service center comprises a list of medical service providers affiliated with the sponsoring service center.

15. The system of claim 13, wherein the information about the sponsoring service center comprises a rollover pop-up display.

16. The system of claim 13, wherein the memory further comprises computer executable instructions that, when executed by the processing unit, perform steps comprising: analyzing the generated webpages to determine that the generated webpages comprise one or more unique contact numbers; determining one or more sponsoring medical service centers associated with the one or more unique contact numbers; and charging the account of the one or more sponsoring medical service centers.

17. The system of claim 13, wherein the memory further comprises computer executable instructions that, when executed by the processing unit, perform steps comprising: receiving information from the sponsoring service center; retrieving a count of the number of times a unique contact number related to the sponsoring service center has been included in one or more generated webpages; comparing the received information against the count; and generating a report specifying the rate of successfully directing a client to the sponsoring service center.

18. A system for providing patient direct connect access to a medical service provider, the system comprising: a client machine for sending a request, from a user, for information related to medical services; a server for: receiving the request; generating a webpage in response to the request for information related to medical services, wherein the webpage comprises one or more unique contact numbers identifying a sponsoring service center; sending the webpage from the server to the client machine; a sponsoring service center for: receiving a request for medical services from the user, wherein the user contacts the sponsoring service center using the one or more unique contact numbers of the webpage; recording user information related to the request for medical services; connecting the user to an affiliated service provider; and the affiliated service provider for recording the user's appointment for medical services.

19. The system of claim 18, wherein the sponsoring service center further performs the action of sending the user information to the server.

20. The system of claim 18, wherein the server further generates a sponsoring hospital tag on the webpage, wherein the sponsoring hospital tag includes a second unique contact number.

21. A computer storage medium encoding computer executable instructions that, when executed on a processor, perform a method of generating a webpage providing a user access to medical service providers via a service center, the method comprising: receiving, at a server, a request from a client for a medical service provider; determining a type of the request; based upon the determination, generating a webpage providing the client access to information related to the medical service provider; and providing access to the medical service provider by sending the generated webpage to the client.

22. The computer storage medium of claim 21, wherein the request from the client comprises a request for a medical service provider comprising a particular specialty and a particular geographic location.

23. The computer storage medium of claim 22, wherein the generated webpage comprises search results listing a plurality of medical service providers having the particular specialty and located within the particular geographic location.

24. The computer storage medium of claim 23, wherein the listing of the plurality of medical service provides further comprises: the names of the plurality for service providers; the location of the plurality of service providers; and a plurality of links to further information about the plurality of service providers.

25. The computer storage medium of claim 21, wherein the type of request from the client comprises a request for a service center.

26. The computer storage medium of claim 25, wherein the generated webpage comprises information related to the service center.

27. The computer storage medium of claim 26, wherein the generated webpage further comprises information regarding the location of the service center.

28. The computer storage medium of claim 26, wherein the service center is affiliated with a selected medical service provider.

29. The computer storage medium of claim 21, wherein the type of request from the complete comprises a request for information about a specific medical service provider.

30. The computer storage medium of claim 29, wherein the generated webpage further comprises information related to the specific medical service provider.

31. The computer storage medium of claim, wherein the generated webpage further comprises: information related to the specific medical service provider's practice; information related to the specific medical service provider's experience; and information related to the specific medical service provider's education.

Description:

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all (copyright or mask work) rights whatsoever.

BACKGROUND

Users in need of a specific service provider often use the Internet to locate a specific service provider. Service providers advertise with search engines to draw attention to their services. However, such advertisements generally provide the user with the service provider's phone number, which the user then calls to contact the service provider directly. Because the service provider is receiving phone calls, there is no easy way for the service provider to monitor information about the amount of business being generated through on-line advertising. It is with respect to this general environment that embodiments of the present disclosure have been contemplated.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the present disclosure relate to providing patient direct connect access to medical service centers. Medical service centers provide access to various medical service providers. One non-limiting example of a medical service center is a hospital call center that is able to direct patients to various different doctors and medical service providers. In embodiments, systems and methods are disclosed that provide a user direct connect access to a medical service center via a network. In some embodiments, the network comprises a server capable of generating webpages that are transmitted to a client and displayed to a user. The generated webpages contain information that direct a user to a sponsored service center. In further embodiments, the sponsored service center connects the user to a medical service provider capable of addressing the user's needs.

Other embodiments of the disclosure relate to directing users to sponsored medical service providers based upon the users' particular needs and location. Disclosed embodiments provide information to users such that participating sponsored service centers are presented to users in a manner that makes the sponsored service centers more attractive to the user. Yet another embodiment of the present disclosure relates to tracking the success of the participation of an individual sponsor in a direct connect service by generating unique contact numbers that identify the sponsor to the user. Disclosed methods further provide mechanisms for generating reports related to the amount of client traffic generated by the sponsor's participation via the use of the unique contact numbers. In still further embodiments, the present disclosure provides a pricing per search method to charge a sponsor based upon the number of times the sponsor is presented to a user.

This summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This summary is not intended to identify key or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present disclosure may be more readily described by reference to the accompanying drawings in which like numbers refer to like items and in which:

FIG. 1 is an illustration of an embodiment of a system 100 operable to provide user direct connect services.

FIG. 2 is a flow chart representing an embodiment of a method 200 for generating a user direct connect service webpage at a server.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart representing an embodiment of a method 300 for generating one or more unique identifiers to be included in a direct connect service webpage.

FIG. 4A is an illustration of an embodiment 400 of a search result page.

FIG. 4B is an illustration of an embodiment 410 of a sponsoring service provider result page.

FIG. 4C is an illustration of an embodiment 420 of a competing service provider result page.

FIG. 4D is an illustration of an embodiment of 430 of a sponsor result page.

FIG. 4E is an illustration of yet another embodiment 420 of a competing service provider result page illustrating a rollover display.

FIG. 5 is a flow chart representing an embodiment of a method 500 for providing a price per search with embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 is a flow chart representing an embodiment of a method 600 for providing metrics tracking with embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 7 is a functional diagram illustrating a computer environment and computer system 700 operable to execute embodiments of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

This disclosure more fully describes exemplary embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which some of the possible embodiments are shown. Other aspects, however, may be embodied in many different forms and the inclusion of specific embodiments in the disclosure should not be construed as limiting such aspects to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, the embodiments depicted in the drawings are included to provide a disclosure that is thorough and complete and which fully conveys the intended scope to those skilled in the art. When referring to the figures, like structures and elements shown throughout are indicated with like reference numerals.

Embodiments of the present disclosure relate to providing patient direct connect access to medical service centers. Medical service centers provide access to various medical service providers. One non-limiting example of a medical service center is a hospital call center that is able to direct patients to various doctors and other medical service providers. In embodiments, systems and methods are disclosed that provide a user direct connect access to a medical service center. In some embodiments, the system comprises a server capable of generating webpages that are transmitted to a client and displayed to a user. The generated webpages contain information that direct a user to a sponsored service center. In yet another embodiment, the sponsored service center connects the user to a medical service provider capable of addressing the user's needs.

Further embodiments of the present disclosure relate to directing users to sponsored medical service providers based upon the users' particular request and location. Disclosed embodiments provide information to users such that participating sponsored service centers are presented to users in a manner that makes the sponsored service centers more attractive to the user.

Other embodiments of the present disclosure relate to tracking the success of the participation of the sponsored service centers through the use of unique contact numbers that identify the sponsor to the user. Disclosed methods provide mechanisms for generating reports related to the amount of client traffic generated by a sponsor's participation in the direct connect service using the unique contact numbers. In still further embodiments, the present disclosure provides a pricing per search method to charge a sponsor based upon the number of times the sponsor is presented to a user.

Referring now to FIG. 1, an embodiment of a system 100 for providing patient direct connect access is illustrated. A client computer 102 sends a request to a server computer 104 via a network 106. In embodiments, the client computer may be a personal computer, a smart phone, a cellular phone, a netbook, or any other computing device. In one embodiment, the network 106 is the Internet. In other embodiments, the network 106 may be a local area network (“LAN”), a wide area network (“WAN”), a wireless network, a plain old telephone service network (“POTS”), or any other type of network known to the art. Upon receiving the request, in embodiments the server generates and transmits a webpage to the client 102. In further embodiments, server 104 is communicatively connected to datastore 114. Server 104 may query the datastore 114 to gather data that is included in the webpage that is transmitted back to the client. For example, datastore 114 may include information related to sponsored service centers, service providers, unique contact numbers, or any other information included in the webpages discussed in this disclosure.

In embodiments, the client 102 displays the webpage to a user through the use of a browser. The browser and the webpage are operable to receive user input and transmit the user input back to the server 104. In embodiments, the webpage is operable to receive a query from the user. In a specific embodiment, the query may comprise a search request for a medical service provider. As an example, the request may comprise information related to a specific medical expertise and a geographic location for a medical service provider. In response to receiving the search request, the server 104 generates search results and transmits the results to the client 102. In embodiments, the results may be transmitted to the client in the form of one or more webpages, such as the webpages described with respect to FIGS. 4A-E, as will be discussed in more detail below.

In embodiments, the search results contain one or more unique contact identifiers that are displayed to the user of client computer 102. Exemplary unique contact identifiers may include, but are not limited to, a unique email address, a unique account identifier, or any other type of unique identifier related to a service center. In one specific embodiment, the unique contact identifier is a unique telephone number for a sponsored service center that is not made available elsewhere. Upon receiving the one or more unique contact numbers, the user is able to contact a sponsored service center 108. In embodiments, the user may contact the sponsored service center 108 using the client computer 102 via network 106. In other embodiments, the client may contact the sponsored service center 108 via other means, such as a phone. One of skill in the art will appreciate that any means of contacting the sponsored service center 108 are contemplated within the present disclosure and may be practiced with the embodiments disclosed herein.

In embodiments of the present disclosure, unique identifiers, also referred to as unique contact numbers, may change based upon the type of webpage and the context and/or portion of the webpage that they are included on. For example, there may be one or more unique identifiers that refer to the same sponsored service center. In embodiments, a first unique identifier for a sponsored service center 108 may be included in a general search page. A second unique identifier for the same service center 108 may be included in a webpage for an affiliated service provider. Furthermore, a third unique identifier for the same sponsored service 108 center may be included in a webpage for a non-affiliated service provider. In embodiments, different unique identifiers are included in different webpages or different sections on the same webpage to provide for metrics tracking. The system 100 uses the different unique identifiers to track user access to the sponsored service center 108. One of skill in the art will appreciate that any number of unique identifiers may be assigned to a sponsored service center 108.

In embodiments, the user is directed to the sponsored service center 108 because of the service center's affiliation with a specific service provider selected by the user. In other embodiments, the user may specifically request that he or she is directed to the sponsored service center 108. The sponsored service center 108 acts as a gateway to specific service providers. For example, in one embodiment, the sponsored service center may be a hospital call center that is capable of directing the user to one of its affiliated medical service providers. Directing the user to a sponsored service center 108 rather than to the specific service provider provides several benefits. For example, the sponsored service center 108 is able to answer any questions the user may have before connecting the user to a specific medical service provider. In other instances, the user may seek a specific medical service provider with a specialty that is not suited to diagnose and treat the user. In such instances, the representatives at the sponsored service center 108 can redirect the user to a different medical service provider that is suited for the user's needs. Additionally, directing the user to a sponsored service center 108 rather than the specific medical service provider allows for metrics monitoring, such as the uptake of new patients by the sponsored service center's affiliated service providers. For example, a hospital may be interested in acting as a gateway to its affiliated physicians to monitor the practice, performance, business generation, and/or advertising success of the hospital's programs and physicians. In addition to these examples, one of skill in the art will appreciate that there are other benefits, not discussed, to directing the user to a sponsored service center rather than a specific medical provider.

In embodiments, the sponsored service center 108 is operable to take information from the user and then direct the user to an affiliated service provider. For example, upon being contacted by the user, the sponsored service center may gather information related to the user's name, address, phone number, medical history, or any other information related to the user. In embodiments, upon gathering the user's information, the sponsoring service center connects the user to a service provider 112 via network 110. Although network 110 is illustrated as different from network 106, one of skill in the art will appreciate that network 110 may be the same as network 106. The service provider 112 has a relationship with the sponsored service center 108. In one embodiment, the service provider 112 may be affiliated with the sponsored service center. For example, the service provider may be a physician that is affiliated with a hospital. In embodiments, the sponsored service center may connect the user to the service provider's office, at which point the user can schedule an appointment with the service provider 112. In yet another embodiment, the sponsored service center 108 may schedule an appointment with the service provider 112 on behalf of the client.

FIG. 2 is an embodiment of a method 200 for generating a user direct connect service webpage at a server. Flow begins at step 202 where the server, such as server 104 (FIG. 1), receives a request from a client, such as client 102 (FIG. 2). Flow proceeds to step 204, where the server determines the type of request that the client made.

If the client made a search request, flow branches SEARCH to step 206 where the server generates the search results based upon search parameters received from the client. For example, in one embodiment the client may request a search for medical service providers in a specific geographic location having a specific specialty (e.g., search parameters). Upon receiving the request, the server will query its database to produce a list of all medical service providers that satisfy the user's search request. In embodiments, the results may be aggregated into a webpage that can be displayed by the client.

Referring now to FIG. 4A, the figure illustrates an embodiment of a search result page 400 that may be generated by the server at step 206. The webpage 400 may include one or more search areas, such as search area 402. As illustrated in this particular embodiment, a client may request a search for a medical service provider having a specific geographic location and specialty. In the illustrated embodiment, the client requested a cardiothoracic surgeon in Jacksonville, Fla. The server queries a database of medical service providers and returns the results in a results section 404 of the webpage 400. In embodiments, the webpage 400 draws attention to sponsored service providers and their affiliated doctors. For example, webpage 400 draws attention to a sponsored service center by displaying a unique identifier 406 for the sponsored service center (e.g., the sponsored service center's unique 1-800 contact number) predominately at the top of the results section immediately followed by the sponsored service center's affiliated doctors. The sponsored service center's unique identifier 406 may also be displayed at the bottom of the page to draw additional attention to the sponsored service center.

In the illustrated embodiment, the search result webpage 400 also displays lists of medical service providers that satisfy the submitted search query. The lists of medical service providers contain information 408 related to the medical service provider. In embodiments, the information may include, but is not limited to, information regarding the medical service providers name, specialties, gender, location, affiliations, links to further information about the service provider, and/or contact information. As illustrated in the embodiment, the sponsored service center's affiliated doctors also display the sponsored service center's unique identifier 406. Further, as illustrated, the service center's unique identifier 406 may be placed in different sections of the webpage. In embodiments, each of unique identifier 406 may be the same unique identifier for the same service center or different unique identifiers for the same service center (e.g., different contact numbers that direct the user to the same service center).

In order to draw more attention to the sponsored service center and its affiliated service providers, the webpage 400 may list all of the affiliated service providers before the unaffiliated providers. In other embodiments, the webpage 400 may contain additional information about the affiliated providers that is not provided for the unaffiliated service providers, offer free reports for the affiliated providers, or use any other known methods to draw a user's attention to the sponsored service center and its affiliated providers.

Referring back to FIG. 2, after generating the search result webpage, flow proceeds to step 216 where the generated search page is sent to the client.

If the client made a request for a specific medical provider, flow branches PROVIDER to step 208. In embodiments, a client may request a specific medical service provider by entering the specific service provider as a search parameter or by clicking a link to the specific service provider that was included in a previously generated search page, such as the webpage illustrated in FIG. 4A. At step 208, the server determines the type of provider that the client requested. If the provider is affiliated with a sponsoring service center, flow branches AFFILIATED to step 210. At step 210, the server generates an affiliated service provider webpage.

Referring now to FIG. 4B, an example of an embodiment of an affiliated service provider webpage 410 is illustrated. In an embodiment, the affiliated provider webpage contains an information section 412 that includes information about the affiliated provider and his or her practice. In embodiments, information section 412 contains information that is related to the service provider's practice, personal information, experience, training, education, recommendations and/or comments about the service provider's performance, any disciplinary action taken against the service provider, and/or the malpractice history of the service provider. Although the embodiment of webpage 410 relates to a medical service provider and provides examples of displayed information that is relevant to such, one of skill in the art will appreciate that any type of service provider may be illustrated in webpage 410 in which case the information displayed on webpage 410 will be specific to the type of the service provider.

In embodiments, the webpage 410 also includes a unique identifier 414 and sponsored service center information. In embodiments, the unique identifier directs the user to the sponsoring service center affiliated with the service provider. In embodiments, the unique identifier is different from the unique identifier placed on the search result webpage 400 (FIG. 4A) on a non-affiliated service provider webpage (e.g., webpage 430 (FIG. 4C)), or on the sponsor information webpage (e.g., webpage 440 (FIG. 4D)) even though the unique identifier may reference the same sponsored service center. The different unique identifier signifies that the user was directed to the sponsored service center from the affiliated service provider webpage 410. This allows for metric tracking that differentiates on the type of search and/or webpage that the user received the unique identifier. For example, providing different unique identifiers allows for the service to determine whether more users are directed to a sponsoring service center from a search page, an affiliated service provider page, a non-affiliated service provider page, or a sponsor information page. Such determinations and the information provided metric tracking based upon the unique identifier provides information to the sponsors that they can use to determine correlations between advertising and business generation.

In further embodiments, the webpage 410 also includes an interactive section 416. For example, the interactive section provides links that allow the user to perform actions related to the webpage such as printing the page, emailing the page, saving the page, etc. In additional embodiments, the interactive section 416 also provides a link in which the service provider can use to update or edit the information on the page or contact a representative to update or edit the page. In further embodiments, the interactive section may provide the user the ability to leave a comment about the service provider that can be made available to other users examining the affiliated service provider's webpage.

Referring back to FIG. 2, after generating the affiliated service provider webpage 410, flow proceeds to step 216 where the generated search page is sent to the client. If, at step 208 the server determines that the provider is not affiliated with a sponsoring service center, flow branches NON-AFFILIATED to step 212. At step 212, the server generates a non-affiliated service provider webpage.

FIG. 4C is an embodiment of a non-affiliated service provider webpage 420 that may be generated at step 212. In an embodiment, the non-affiliated provider webpage 420 contains an information section 422 that includes information about the non-affiliated provider and his or her practice. In embodiments, information section 422 contains information that is related to the non-affiliated service provider's practice, personal information, experience, training, education, comments about the non-affiliated service provider's performance, any disciplinary action taken against the non-affiliated service provider, and/or the malpractice history of the non-affiliated service provider. In other embodiments, information section 422 may contain more information, less information, or different types of information than the information illustrated in information section 412 (FIG. 4B) because the information is related to a non-affiliated service provider. In embodiments, the information in the non-affiliated service provider webpage 420 may be limited in order to attract the user to a sponsored service center or an affiliated service provider. In embodiments, the non-affiliated service provider webpage 420 may provide a mechanism for a user to access a report or more detailed information about the service provider. For example, webpage 420 includes a link 422 that allows the user to receive more information. In some embodiments, the user may have to pay to access the report or additional information. In other embodiments, webpage 420 may contain additional advertisements that are not present in the affiliated service provider webpage 410. The extra steps of requiring the user to pay or click on multiple links to received detailed information about a non-affiliated service provider and the extra advertisements placed on the non-affiliated service provider webpage 420 result in the non-affiliated service provider's online profile, and thereby the non-affiliated service provider, less attractive to the customer.

The patient direct connect systems and methods disclosed herein capitalize on the unattractiveness of non-affiliated service provider webpages (such as webpage 420) to direct users to affiliated service providers. In embodiments, the non-affiliated webpage 420 includes a sponsored service center unique identifier 424 (e.g., a unique call center number) and sponsored service center information (e.g., the sponsor call center name, logo, trademark, etc.) at a prevalent position in the page. For example, the sponsored service center unique identifier may be located at the top of the non-affiliated service provider webpage 420. In embodiments, a sponsor service is selected that is within the same geographic location and can provide the same services or has affiliated service providers that offer the same services as the non-affiliated service provider. A sponsor service center unique identifier 426 is displayed on the webpage 420 for a sponsor service center that satisfies these requirements.

In further embodiments, the non-affiliated service provider webpage may include additional sponsor information sections, such as sponsor information section 426. In embodiments, sponsor information section 426 includes information about a sponsor service center that is within the same geographic location and can provide the same services or has affiliated service providers that offer the same services as the non-affiliated service provider. In one embodiment, the sponsored service center may be the same sponsored service center identified by unique identifier 424. In other embodiments, it may be a different sponsored service provider than the sponsored service center identified by unique identifier 424. The sponsor information section may contain additional information about the sponsor such as the sponsor service center's name, its location, offered services, specialties, affiliated service providers, the sponsored service center's unique identifier, or any other information relevant to the sponsored service center. In one embodiment, the sponsor information section 426 may include a list of affiliated service providers offering the same services or having the same specialty as the non-affiliated service provider. In further embodiments, the sponsor information section has links to additional information about the sponsored service center or its affiliated service providers.

As discussed, in embodiments the unique identifier for the sponsored service center 423 displayed on the non-affiliated service provider webpage 420 may be a different unique identifier than the unique identifiers displayed a search page (e.g., 400 (FIG. 4A)), the affiliated service provider webpage (e.g., 410 (FIG. 4B)), or the sponsor information webpage (e.g., webpage 430 (FIG. 4D)) even though the unique identifiers may direct the user to the same sponsored service center. As discussed, this provides the ability to determine from which webpage the user was ultimately directed to the sponsored service center.

Referring again back to FIG. 2, after generating the affiliated service provider webpage 410, flow proceeds to step 216 where the generated search page is sent to the client. If, at step 204 the server determines that the client made a request for sponsor information, then flow branches SPONSOR to step 214. At step 214, the server generates a sponsor information webpage.

FIG. 4D is an embodiment of a sponsor information webpage 430 that may be generated at step 214. The sponsor information webpage 430 includes a sponsor information section 434. The sponsor information section 434 includes information about the sponsor. In embodiments, the information about the sponsor may be information regarding the sponsor's name, location, specialties, mission statement, services, affiliated service providers, certifications, pictures, logos, or any other information related to the sponsor. Sponsor information webpage 430 also includes a unique identifier 434 for the sponsored service center. Again, in embodiments unique identifier for the sponsored service center 432 displayed on the sponsor information webpage 420 may be a different unique identifier than the unique identifiers displayed the search page (e.g., 400 (FIG. 4A)), the affiliated service provider webpage (e.g., 410 (FIG. 4B)), or the non-affiliated service provider webpage (e.g., webpage 420 (FIG. 4C)) even though the unique identifiers may direct the user to the same sponsored service center.

The various webpages generated at steps 206, 210, 212, and 214 may include additional functionality to further draw a user's attention to a sponsored service center. FIG. 4E is an illustration of yet another embodiment 420 of a competing service provider result page illustrating a rollover display 428. The rollover display draws additional attention to a sponsored service provider. In embodiments, the rollover display is generated upon the user positioning a mouse cursor over a particular portion of a webpage. For example, in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4E, a rollover display is generated when the user places the mouse cursor over, or within the vicinity, of a sponsor information section. In embodiments, the rollover display provides a blown up portion of a rollover area to draw the user's attention to the rollover area. In the illustrated embodiment, the sponsor information section is blown up to make it easier to read the sponsor information. In other embodiments, the rollover display area contains additional information about the sponsor that is not displayed in the webpage 430. While the rollover display functionality is illustrated with respect to the sponsor information section of a non-affiliated service provider webpage, one of skill in the art will appreciate that a rollover display can be included in any section of any webpage disclosed herein. Furthermore, in other embodiments, the rollover display may automatically be generated without interaction from the user to further draw the user's attention to a sponsored service center.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart representing an embodiment of a method 300 for generating one or more unique identifiers to be included in a direct connect service webpage. Flow begins at step 302 sponsor service information is received. For example, a server, such as server 102 (FIG. 1), receives information about a sponsor service center. In one embodiment, the information may include an indication that a particular service center is a sponsored service center. In another embodiment, the received information may include information regarding the sponsored service center, the sponsored service center's affiliated service provider, the sponsor's services and/or specialties, the sponsored service centers geographic location, or any other information relevant to the sponsored service center. The information received by the server at step 302 may be stored on the server, or on an associated datastore (e.g., datastore 114 (FIG. 1)) for later use in the generated webpages.

In response to receiving the sponsor information, flow proceeds to step 304. At step 304, one or more unique identifiers are generated for the sponsored service center. In embodiments, the one or more unique identifiers may be unique phone numbers, unique email addresses, unique postage addresses, or any other type of unique identifier. The identifiers are unique because they are only available to the user via the disclosed systems and methods. For example, if the unique identifier is a phone number for the sponsored service center, the phone number is unique such that it is not the existing phone number for the sponsored service center and it is not available anywhere else (e.g., it is not published in a phone directory).

The one or more identifiers generated at step 304 are unique such that each identifier generated is different. For example, if the identifiers are all phone numbers, each generated phone number is different despite the fact that each of the generated phone numbers connect to the same sponsored service center. As discussed, the different unique identifiers are used to determine how a user was ultimately directed to the sponsored service center. For example, referring to webpages 400, 410, 420, and 430, four different unique identifiers may be generated for the same sponsor such that each webpage 400, 410, 420, and 430 contain a different unique identifier. This allows the disclosed systems and methods to determine if the user was directed to the sponsored service center from webpage 400, 410, 420, or 430. In another embodiment, a unique identifier may be generated based upon the different services offered (e.g., a unique identifier for each type of service). One of skill in the art will appreciate that any number of unique identifiers may be generated at step 304 depending on the number of different ways in which the sponsored service center wants to track the access patterns of its users.

Flow proceeds to step 306 where the one or more unique identifiers are stored for later use. In embodiments, the unique identifiers may be stored in the server's memory or in an associated datastore. In further embodiments, the unique identifiers are stored such that they remain associated with their respective sponsored service center.

Flow proceeds to step 308, where the server, at a later time, receives a request for the webpage. The server processes the request and determines the type of webpage that is being requested by the method discussed with respect to FIG. 2. Upon determining the type of webpage requested, flow proceeds to step 310 where the server determines which of the one or more unique identifiers to include in the requested webpage. In one embodiment, the determination is based upon two factors. First, the server determines which sponsored service center to include in the webpage. In one embodiment, the determination is based off of the parameters of the webpage request. For example, if the webpage request is for a search page listing service providers having a particular geographic location and/or specialty, the server selects a sponsored service center matching the parameters of the webpage request. In another embodiment, the determination may be based off of the content of the requested webpage. For example, if the requested webpage includes information regarding a service provider that is affiliated with a sponsored service center, the server selects the sponsored service center. If the webpage contains information regarding a non-affiliated service provider, the server selects a sponsored service center having characteristics similar to the non-affiliated service provider (e.g., same geographic location, same services, same specialties, etc).

After selecting the sponsored service center, the server next determines which unique identifier to display in the webpage. This determination is based off of the number of different ways in which the sponsored service center wants to track access to it. For example, if the sponsored service center only wants to track user access from the disclosed systems and methods, only one unique identifier is required an the one unique identifier is always selected for inclusion in the webpage. If the sponsored service center desires to track user access from specific webpages, then a unique identifier is selected that corresponds to the sponsor for the specific webpage. For example, if the sponsored service center want to track user access from both affiliated service provider webpages and non-affiliated service provider webpages, two different unique identifiers are created at step 304 to correspond with each type of webpage. The server then determines which type of webpage is requested at step 310 and selects the unique identifier for requested webpage.

In further embodiments, the unique identifier displayed may vary based upon the position of the unique identifier within the webpage. In such embodiments, the server must also determine where the unique identifier is to be placed on the webpage before it determines which unique identifier to include at step 310. Upon selecting the one or more correct unique identifier, flow proceeds to step 312 where the server includes the one or more selected unique identifiers in the webpage.

The use of the one or more unique identifiers for each sponsored service center provides additional functionality to the disclosed systems and methods. For example, the unique identifiers are useful to determine how users are directed to the sponsored service centers. This information is then used by the sponsored service centers to determine whether their advertising is generating business. Additionally, the unique identifiers provide the ability for the disclosed systems and methods to determine billing information.

FIG. 5 is a flow chart representing an embodiment of a method 500 for providing a price per search with embodiments of the present disclosure. Flow begins at step 502 where a generated webpage is analyzed to determine which sponsored service centers are included in the webpage. In embodiments, the analysis at step 502 may be conducted concurrently with the methods for generating webpages disclosed in FIGS. 2 and 3 or after the webpage is generated. The webpage is analyzed at step 502 to determine the sponsored service centers included in the webpage. In one embodiment, each sponsored service center is determined by the one or more unique identifiers contained in the webpage.

Upon determining which unique identifiers are included in the webpage, the accounts associated with the displayed unique identifiers are charged at step 504. This allows the disclosed systems and methods to implement a pay structure in which sponsored service centers are charged per display, rather than simply charging sponsored service providers on a flat fee basis. The pay per search method benefits the sponsored service providers by ensuring that they are only paying based on the amount of exposure they actually receive. Additionally, the pay per search method allows for price differentiation based upon the type of exposure the sponsored service center is receiving (e.g., based upon the type of webpage or the position of the sponsored service center's information in a webpage). For example, it might be more valuable, and thus more expensive, to have the sponsored service center displayed on a non-affiliated service provider's webpage. This allows an implementer of the disclosed systems and methods to detect when a sponsored service provider is displayed on a non-affiliated physician's webpage and charge accordingly.

FIG. 6 is a flow chart representing an embodiment of a method 600 for providing report tracking with embodiments of the present disclosure. Flow begins with operation 602 where information from the sponsored service center is aggregated. In embodiments, the information aggregated from the sponsored service center is information regarding the number of times users contacted the sponsored service center using a particular unique identifier. The information may be aggregated in a datastore connected to the sponsored service center, in a remote server, or in a datastore connected to a remote server. In embodiments, if a sponsored service center is associated with more than one unique identifier, the information is aggregated per each unique identifier associated with the sponsored service center. Because the unique identifier connects a user to a sponsored service center rather than a specific service provider, user information can be maintained in a centralized location rather than distributed among various locations.

Flow proceeds to step 604 where the aggregated information is compared against the number of times a unique identifier has been included in a webpage. In embodiments, the disclosed systems and methods maintain a count of the number of times a unique identifier was displayed to a user. In further embodiments, more detailed information about the display of the unique identifier may also be collected (e.g., time of day displayed, geographic location of user that the unique number was displayed to, or any other relevant information). The aggregated information collected from the sponsored service center may be compared against the collected unique identifier data to generate reporting information related to the success of the sponsored service center's participation in the disclosed patient direct connect systems and methods.

Upon making the comparison of the collected sponsored center information and the unique identifier information, flow proceeds to step 606. Various different reports can be generated based on the information aggregated in steps 602 and 604. For example, if a sponsored service center was contacted using a particular unique identifier 670 times and the unique identifier was displayed a total of 1000 times, the success rate of business generation would be 67%. While the disclosure has provided a specific example of a type of report generated, one of skill in the art will appreciate that various different types of reports can be generated at step 606.

The disclosed systems and methods may be performed using logic implemented in hardware or in software executed by hardware. With reference to FIG. 7, an embodiment of a computing environment for implementing the various embodiments described herein includes a computer system, such as computer system 700. Any and all components of the described embodiments may execute as or on a client computer system, a server computer system, a combination of client and server computer systems, a handheld device, and other possible computing environments or systems described herein. As such, a basic computer system applicable to all these environments is described hereinafter.

In its most basic configuration, computer system 700 comprises at least one processing unit or processor 704 and system memory 706. The most basic configuration of the computer system 700 is illustrated in FIG. 7 by dashed line 702. In some embodiments, one or more components of the described system are loaded into system memory 706 and executed by the processing unit 704 from system memory 706. Depending on the exact configuration and type of computer system 700, system memory 706 may be volatile (such as RAM), non-volatile (such as ROM, flash memory, etc.), or some combination of the two.

Additionally, computer system 700 may also have additional features/functionality. For example, computer system 700 includes additional storage media 708, such as removable and/or non-removable storage, including, but not limited to, magnetic or optical disks or tape. In some embodiments, software or executable code and any data used for the described system is permanently stored in storage media 708. Storage media 708 includes volatile and non-volatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data. In embodiments, the capability negotiation methods and wrapper inner methods are stored in storage media 708.

System memory 706 and storage media 708 are examples of computer storage media. Computer storage media includes, but is not limited to, RAM, ROM, EEPROM, flash memory or other memory technology, CD-ROM, digital versatile disks (“DVD”) or other optical storage, magnetic cassettes, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage, other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which is used to store the desired information and which is accessed by computer system 700 and processor 704. Any such computer storage media may be part of computer system 700. In some embodiments, mammogram images and/or results of probability determination are stored in system memory 706. In embodiments, system memory 706 and/or storage media 708 stores data used to perform the methods or form the system(s) disclosed herein, such as generating unique identifiers, generating webpages, generating reports, etc. In embodiments, system memory 706 would store information such as unique identifier generation methods 714 and webpage generation instructions 716. In embodiments, unique identifier methods 714 may be used to generate unique identifiers, display unique identifiers, determine pay per search based on unique identifiers, or generating reports based on unique identifiers. Generation instructions 716, in embodiments, store the instructions necessary to generate the various webpages disclosed herein. For example, generation instructions 716 may include functions for generating a search result page, an affiliated provider page, a non-affiliated provider page, or sponsor information page.

Computer system 700 may also contain communications connection(s) 710 that allow the device to communicate with other devices. In embodiments, communications connection(s) 710 may be used to transmit and receive messages between sender devices, intermediary devices, and recipient devices. Communication connection(s) 710 is an example of communication media. Communication media may embody a modulated data signal, such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism and includes any information delivery media, which may embody computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data in a modulated data signal. The term “modulated data signal” means a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information or a message in the data signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as an acoustic, RF, infrared, and other wireless media. In an embodiment, webpages may be transmitted over the communication connection(s) 710.

In some embodiments, computer system 700 also includes input and output connections 712, and interfaces and peripheral devices, such as a graphical user interface. Input device(s) are also referred to as user interface selection devices and include, but are not limited to, a keyboard, a mouse, a pen, a voice input device, a touch input device, etc. Output device(s) are also referred to as displays and include, but are not limited to, cathode ray tube displays, plasma screen displays, liquid crystal screen displays, speakers, printers, etc. These devices, either individually or in combination, connected to input and output connections 712 are used to display the information as described herein. All these devices are well known in the art and need not be discussed at length here.

In some embodiments, the component described herein comprise such modules or instructions executable by computer system 700 that may be stored on computer storage medium and other tangible mediums and transmitted in communication media. Computer storage media includes volatile and non-volatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data. Combinations of any of the above should also be included within the scope of readable media. In some embodiments, computer system 700 is part of a network that stores data in remote storage media for use by the computer system 700.

This disclosure described some embodiments of the present disclosure with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which only some of the possible embodiments were shown. Other aspects may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments were provided so that this disclosure was thorough and complete and fully conveyed the scope of the possible embodiments to those skilled in the art.

Although the embodiments have been described in language specific to structural features, methodological acts, and computer-readable media containing such acts, it is to be understood that the possible embodiments, as defined in the appended claims, are not necessarily limited to the specific structure, acts, or media described. One skilled in the art will recognize other embodiments or improvements that are within the scope and spirit of the present disclosure. Therefore, the specific structure, acts, or media are disclosed only as illustrative embodiments. The disclosure is defined by the appended claims.