Online Reputation Management for Doctors
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Online Reputation Management for Doctors
Curated and Written Articles to help Physicians and Other Healthcare Providers manage reputation online. Tips on Social media, SEO, Online Review Managements and Medical Websites
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Three Things Physicians Should Know about Social Media

Three Things Physicians Should Know about Social Media | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Like many Americans, physicians have discovered the value of social media. Whether they seek to market their practices, educate consumers about health concerns, or engage with patients online, many physicians see the potential in an economic way to reach large audiences quickly via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other sites.


Over 70 percent of family physicians and oncologists use social media more than once a month, according to one survey. Another benefit, clearly, is these sites allow physicians to keep up with news and trends relating to health, medicine and patient care.


Physicians, and all healthcare professionals, should understand the risks of using social media improperly, as these risks could easily outweigh the benefits. Using social media inappropriately could lead to a liability suit that could damage a physician’s reputation or could cause the release of confidential patient information.


The release of patient information would violate HIPAA, which requires physicians and all healthcare entities to safeguard what it calls protected health information (PHI). The law defines PHI as any individually identifiable health information that medical practice or any associate of the practice maintains or transmits in any form. Such a broad definition makes physicians, anyone working for the practice and any vendor who contracts with the practice potentially liable if PHI is released to the public.


Several organizations, including the AMA and the American Association of Family Physicians, have published guidelines for social media use. Another excellent source of such guidance comes from the Federation of State Medical Boards, the group that represents the agencies in every state that discipline physicians. The federation’s 14-page Model Policy Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice, is designed to educate state boards on social media. In one section of the guidelines, the federation outlines its recommendations for physicians who use social media and social networking personally and professionally. It recommends following these three steps, saying physicians should:


1. Limit discussions with patients about medical treatment. Therefore, they should never do so on personal social networking sites because anyone with access to these sites could view a physician’s comments about a patient’s care.


2. Provide no information that could identify patients because doing so could be a HIPAA violation.


3. Assume all risks related to the security, privacy and confidentiality of their posts when posting online. Assuming such risk means that when moderating any website, physicians should delete inaccurate information and posts that violate the privacy and confidentiality of patients or that are unprofessional.


Perhaps the best way to sum up the federation’s advice is this — always be professional. Always follow the same principles of professionalism online as you would offline. Use separate accounts for personal and professional social networking sites and for email. This way you can maintain professionalism and confidentiality in your professional postings and still enjoy personal, more casual conversations where appropriate on your personal sites.

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5 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation

5 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Online Reputation Management for Doctors can be more crucial than  any other industry. In this information age reviews can make or break a practice. Follow these tips below and get the recommendations that match your skill set.


1)      Ask Your Happy Patients to Write a Review: Don’t be afraid to ask, because it certainly won’t hurt if your patient is leaving happy. Follow up with your patients – you can ask them directly for a review, or you can point them to a  website like healthgrades.com, vitals.com or ratemds.com


2)      Post Your Positive Reviews: In your office on a bulletin board, your website, blog and social media. The more attention you drive to the good, the less attention will be given to the poor.


3)      Google Yourself: Search for your name both for text and in images. Also, set up aGoogle Alert and you’ll get new results emailed to you based on the search criteria you specify. You’ll be notified immediately if any new reviews pop up.


4)      Get Active on Social Media: Social media is more relevant in today’s purchasing process. Get engaged with your followers to foster better relationships with the people who care enough to post online about their experience.


5)      Respond to Negative Reviews: Don’t just ignore them, because they won’t go away. Responding to negative reviews shows that you care about your patients, even and especially about the ones that left unhappy. But don’t just apologize; you need to make sure your response is well thought out, sincere, and that it addresses the issues and explains why future patients will not experience the same issues in the future.

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Managing online reputation for dentists

Managing online reputation for dentists | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The Internet has become the ultimate symbol of an individual’s right to information and freedom of expression. As a result, there is plenty of good information available on the Internet regarding doctors and dentists. However, along with the good information, there is also the risk of misinformation and negative biases finding its way to the World Wide Web.


The very nature of the Internet ensures so much freedom for every individual that it becomes difficult for dentists to control and manage their professional reputations online. The number of rankings or ratings websites have also increased, and some are focused exclusively on physicians. While these websites present an opportunity for dentists to promote their practices through word of mouth publicity, they also pose the risk of creating unfairly negative pinions against them.


Types of ratings websites


Doctor and dentist rating websites can be broadly classified into four categories. The first is the no-fee sites that offer free information to patients about the listed doctors. Some of these sites earn their revenue through advertising, while others charge a fee to the listed doctors. From a dentist’s perspective, it is relatively easy to control information on such a website because there is a financial tie-up between the site and the practitioner.


The second category of websites are the ones that have no relationship with the doctors, but charge patients a fee for privileged access to information about doctors. Dentists can exercise little or no control over the views and reviews that the website chooses to publish about a practice.


The third category includes insurance company websites, which have doctor reference sections, and the companies give their own ratings to the listed doctors.


The final category includes government-controlled websites that provide information about doctors licensed in the states.


How are ratings determined?


Doctor and dentist rating websites usually follow one of three approaches to develop rankings or ratings. The first involves the use of an algorithm or formula that attaches different weights to different sets of credentials of the doctor, such as education, experience, and any special training. Some sites may differentiate on the basis of the type of dental school a dentist attended. If the doctor has settled a malpractice suit out of court, some sites may consider this as grounds to attach lesser weight to the doctor.


The second approach to determine ratings involves feedback from patients. The website will invite patients to rate their doctors on various parameters. Average ratings for a doctor are then computed on the basis of the patient feedback.


The third approach is a hybrid of the first two, which is a more comprehensive way to develop ratings. However, rating a dentist still remains a highly subjective area because the opinions vary widely from patient to patient. That makes this entire system of online ratings inherently controversial.

Proactive online reputation management


From a practicing dentist’s point of view, it makes a lot of sense to be proactive in protecting and managing his or her online reputation. A growing number of patients are inclined to check out a doctor’s background on the Internet, and it may become an important factor in their decision to choose a doctor. The first challenge for a doctor is to ensure that the ratings and review websites maintain the latest information about the doctor’s practice. Most such sites do not have a system to ask for such updates, and the sites expect the listed doctors to provide updates on their own.


Patients may get mixed up when two or more doctors have the same or similar names. It may lead to misplaced patient reviews and ratings. Sometimes a particular patient may have made an unfair, false, or incorrect accusation, which can be countered only if the doctor takes care to tell his side of the story. Apart from damage control in such instances, dentists should also reach out to ratings and review sites to provide accurate facts so that the chances of misinformation are minimized.


Challenges of anonymous ratings


The Internet offers a great deal of anonymity, which can be misused to make irresponsible, incorrect, or false statements online, without any fear of being held accountable. Many individuals operate under pseudonyms on the Internet. So while they can hide their identity and protect their reputation, they can potentially jeopardize the reputation of a dentist or other professional online. To tackle this challenge, Google Plus has taken the initiative and revoked the ability of users to post reviews anonymously, or even pseudonymously.


While this kind of restriction is a welcome step for most businesses and professions, it poses another unique problem in the area of health care. Patients are usually willing to be most candid when their privacy is protected. Less than 5% of patients willingly give out their full names when providing feedback about a doctor online. Therefore, restriction of their privacy is a dilemma that may discourage patients from providing reviews and ratings about doctors and dentists on respected forums such as Google Plus.

Hire online reputation management experts


Dental practitioners who are looking to grow and expand their practices in their area can no longer afford to ignore the marketing power of the Internet. They should have a professional and dynamic website that creates an outstanding image for the dentist and practice. Secondly, such a website needs to be promoted professionally so that it achieves high rankings on all search engines, which allows the maximum number of local patients to reach the website. Thirdly, the dentist must be able to protect his or her reputation on third party websites on the Internet.


All these tasks can be performed efficiently and cost-effectively with the help of a professional SEO and online reputation management services provider. With the support of recognized experts in this area, it is possible to build an impeccable online reputation for a dentist, while following the highest ethical and professional standards.

It takes years to build an online reputation, and it can take one bad review that goes viral on the Internet to tear it down. With the growing influence of the World Wide Web in our lives, it is a smart move for practicing dentists to take the steps to build and protect their professional reputation online.

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What Physicians Should Consider When Managing Their Online Reputation

What Physicians Should Consider When Managing Their Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Your online reputation as a physician is valuable; probably even more so than you may realize. But if you do not manage your reputation the right way, it could lead to huge difficulties. The Internet has opened up the door to allowing people to find your practice easily, but by the same token it has made it possible for there to be fraudulent information and negative reviews, all of which can do damage.

It Looks Real

There are several problems with online reviews that will be imperative to act upon for physicians. For starters, it is illegal for you to pay someone to write a favorable review for you. This is a process known as "astroturfing," and is a problem that has plagued the Internet for years. With astroturfing, people (or sometimes the physician themselves) will log on to review websites and will leave glowing reviews, simply because they have received something in exchange (e.g. cash and/or incentives) for those reviews other than good service.


The reviews give great feedback and are typically "over the top," in regard to the product or service. In contrast, there are some people who will get others to purposely write negative reviews of their competitors, when there is a chance they have never been a customer at all.


The Legalities


What many people fail to realize is that astroturfing, fake reviews or reviews done in exchange for something, is illegal. In most cases it may qualify as a violation of the Endorsement and Advertising Guidelines, which are standards set by the Federal Trade Commission. Fake reviews have lead to monetary sanctions being placed against those who have written them.


Physicians need to exercise caution when it comes to managing their online reputation. It is essential to balance review management while remaining legal. While you can suggest to your happy customers to leave a review for your practice, it is best to avoid offering them something, such as a discount, gift, or money, for doing so.


Managing Carefully


It is estimated that good reviews can boost a business’s sales anywhere from 32 percent to 52 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review. So it stands to reason that a business with poor reviews will in turn lose current customers, or prevent new ones. For example, one Washington, D.C., building contractor fought back when he received a negative online review that he believes lead to him losing $300,000 worth of business. The contractor, who sued the person who wrote the review, claimed that it contained information that was not factually correct and it cost him a lot of business.


It is imperative that physicians manage their online reputation. But navigating the waters to get it done successfully, as well as legally, may prove to be challenging for some. This is a reason some people turn to reputation management companies. They know how to manage the online reputation, keep it all legal, and help you gain business as a result.

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Physicians: Safeguard Your Online Reputation in 5 Steps

Physicians: Safeguard Your Online Reputation in 5 Steps | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

In my previous posts, I've walked you through the challenges and burdens of suing a patient for online defamation. Such lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming, stressful, and full of risk. In short, they are a last resort, only to be used when your reputation is so severely in peril that legal action is your only viable option. This final post will offer a few ideas of proactive steps you can take to safeguard your online reputation.

Given the prevalence and influence of online reviews, physicians cannot ignore their online reputation. A simple Internet search will turn up reviews of your practice in seconds. Survey data makes clear that potential patients will read those reviews and form an impression of you before they've ever set foot in your examination room.

You cannot stop a patient from defaming you online, but taking these steps can help lessen the reputational damage of a single negative review. The goal is to create a substantial and positive online presence

You should be aware that on many doctor rating websites, anyone can create your profile. For example, on RateMDs, the patient need only complete the most basic information about a doctor (name, specialty, address) to create a physician profile. Then the patient can review the doctor, and the profile and review are available for anyone to see. Other websites (such as Healthgrades) pull practice information from public sources to create profiles. Either way, you may not be aware that such profiles even exist.

Here are a few steps you can take right now:

First, if one does not already exist, create a profile on the major review websites, including general review sites like Yelp.


You want to be the person to describe your practice, ensure that contact information is correct, and provide an accurate description of your specialties and experience. It sounds silly, but a warm, approachable headshot —taken by a professional — can offer a strong first impression.

Second, if someone else created a profile for you, "claim" your profile to make any necessary changes to the information in it.
For example, the patient may have listed an incorrect subspecialty or the wrong fax number. By claiming and verifying the profile, at least you will be sure that prospective patients can find your office and contact you.

Third, take steps to create a substantial and positive online presence so that a single negative review will cause little harm.


You can ask patients to write reviews when you have treated them or their close family member. It is not right to pay for reviews, write your own reviews, or post negative reviews on another doctor's profile. Some websites prohibit the solicitation of reviews. But there is nothing wrong with asking your patients to review your practice if they are happy with it.

Fourth, constantly monitor your online reputation.


If you do not know what is being written about your practice, you have zero chance to protect your reputation. You need to check your profile regularly and read all the posted reviews. A staff member can be assigned to this task on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, depending on the size of your practice. Apart from finding reviews that you may want to try to remove, this effort also provides you with invaluable feedback about your practice and may help provide ideas to tweak your office policies to fix problems that patients identify. As I have written before, there may be times when you need to respond to negative reviews on the review website itself.

Fifth, be aware that the presentation of online reviews on some sites may not accurately depict all of the reviews of your practice.
Yelp has come under considerable criticism for its internal algorithm that decides which reviews are prominently displayed and which reviews are hidden on a separate page. I talked with one home renovation company that had several one-star reviews on their Yelp profile page but numerous five-star reviews hidden on a second page. The upshot is that even if current patients write positive reviews, this is no guarantee that those reviews can be found easily by potential patients. This is simply one of the problems with online review sites.


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Simple Ways to Ward Off a Lawsuit

Simple Ways to Ward Off a Lawsuit | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The other day, a very good friend of mine and I were creating training material for my residents. Tony is an attorney, but he's the good type. Almost all of his law practice is medical malpractice defense. During the brainstorming session, he gave me a few important nuggets that I would like to share with you.

First and foremost, be a good physician, because outcomes do matter.

Always practice good, sound medicine. Even the very smartest, most brilliant physicians will get sued. It's the nature of our business because we deal with the most precious thing people have — their life. We are also human and sometimes things don't go as planned or as hoped. It's really how we handle the less than satisfactory outcomes that will really determine our malpractice risk. A good physician is a good communicator. Take the time to discuss the expected outcomes with the patient and his family. Be honest with them. Don't tell them what they want to hear, but what they can expect to occur. I know we don't want to crush their hopes or make them despair. However, if we set or allow for the establishment of unrealistic expectations, we actually can do more harm than good for everyone involved.

Be nice, patient, and compassionate.

Outcomes may matter, but what really influences people the most is how we make them feel. It is very likely patients will not remember most of what we share with them. It can be difficult for laypeople to understand the foreign language we speak sometimes. Frequently, the words and stuff will get jumbled up, words will be switched around, or brand new words will be created. However, I guarantee they will always remember how you made them feel. Those feelings are based in emotions, and emotions are what drive decisions and ultimately lawsuits. Take time with your patients; solicit their questions, express compassion and understanding for what they are experiencing. That honestly is one of the best defenses against a lawsuit.

Documentation can only help you.

In our hectic worlds, making certain we document events, conversations, and decision processes can easily be skipped. We think we will get to it later but ultimately forget. Get things down on paper soon after they occur, so the details do not fade. This serves to help record your decision-making process. Hindsight is always 20/20, but we operate with imperfect data sometimes trying to make the best decisions for our patients. Recording the data available and the decision-making process used to arrive at a particular decision is important. It can help prevent a lot of the armchair doctoring that goes on.

Always call your attorney first.

Many good physicians have been unwittingly dragged into lawsuits because they didn't seek legal counsel first. If you are served with papers or if an attorney who doesn't represent you phones, you should immediately call your attorney. Nothing is worse than becoming a fact witness against the defense or being named in the lawsuit because of the way you answered an objectionable question. Lawsuits are serious and they lie outside our area of expertise. Always call an expert.

Remember, healthcare is two distinct parts: the process and the outcome. The latter can get you sued, but how you handle and behave during the process can protect you.


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Is Top-Down Management Right for Your Medical Practice?

Is Top-Down Management Right for Your Medical Practice? | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

In order for your practice to run smoothly you need more than excellent medical skills. Because as much as your priority is to provide exceptional care for your patients, there are other vital components you must master to ensure the successful operation of the corporate elements of your practice. These include effectively managing your staff and efficiently monetizing your business. After all, if your business can't thrive, neither can your patients.

Most doctors don't have the training or the time to double as human resource and financial experts. That's why some medical practices can benefit from establishing a unique co-management structure rather than relying on a traditional top-down management style.

Unless you intend to earn an MBA, you may want to consider instituting one of these three simple geometric-themed alternatives for enhancing the functionality of your day-to-day business operations:

1. Round Management

Imagine a bicycle wheel. In this management model, which works well for a sizeable practice with a multidisciplinary team, your patients are at the center of the wheel, the hub. They are the reason you have a business at all. Every member of your team symbolizes one of the spokes, and each of them has a unique duty to perform that will add to the health of either your patients or your business. Because you are both the doctor and the business owner, your role is twofold. First, as the business owner, you act as the rim of the wheel; the person responsible for holding everything together by overseeing the professionalism of your staff and the economic success of your practice. Second, as the doctor, you are in the position of being the axle, which supports the hub (your patients), the spokes (your team), and the rim (your business). If you are out of alignment, your business will be out of alignment as well.

2. Triangle Management

Ideal for midsized practices, this three-pronged management approach includes a people manager, a financial manager, and a medical manager. In addition to handling conflicts and complaints, the people manager directs human resources — including hiring, firing, training, and scheduling. This person is also responsible for developing and maintaining patient relationships, and for the implementation and execution of office policies and principles. The financial manager is in charge of fiscal accountability, supplies, and payroll. The medical manager, who is usually the physician who owns the practice, is the in-house authority on medical practices, procedures, and records. The managing physician also has the final say on conflict resolutions, financial decisions, and corporate operations. The system usually works well because it provides clearly defined roles and responsibilities, multiple perspectives, and a variety of advisers who have specific areas of expertise.

3. Spiral Management

This is the most fluid and flexible mode of management because it offers minimal pecking order and maximal independence. Spiral management is perfectly suited for practices with one or two physicians and a small number of auxiliary staff. The success of this model relies heavily on mutual trust, teamwork, and open communication. Naturally, patients are the center point of the spiral, with physicians, support personnel, and administrative staff surrounding them in varying rings of care. No matter what their role is, people working in these practices generally have a vested interest in the success of the business because they enjoy the autonomy that the spiral management system provides. It is not uncommon for business owners who believe in this style of management to offer financial, educational, and scheduling assistance to their staff because they value the return they see on such investments.

Top-down management has certainly been proven to work well in many circumstances. But if you're looking for a more unconventional style, you may want to try a new angle.


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Why You Should Have a Dress-Code Policy in Your Medical Practice

Why You Should Have a Dress-Code Policy in Your Medical Practice | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

During a meeting this week, I decided it was time to touch on the practice's dress-code policy. This policy should be reviewed about once a year. I had heard from some of the front-office staff members that patients were making potentially inappropriate comments about their clothing, such as, "That shirt looks really nice on you," and "You have great legs, you must work out."

Although these comments may seem harmless to some, they can be the cause for all sorts of disasters (for both staff members and the practice) — especially if management had been approached. It is your responsibility to protect your employees from patients who choose to verbalize thoughts that should be kept to themselves. Having a solid dress-code policy in place is your first line of defense.

If you are not sure where to start, or what to include in your dress-code policy, here are some ideas:

• Employees are expected to dress in an appropriate, professional manner that portrays an image of confidence and security for patients. Cleanliness and neatness are absolutely necessary at all times. Distracting themes in appearance or dress, low-cut clothing, exposed midriff, evening wear, or sheer clothing are unacceptable.

• Clinical staff will wear collared shirts or scrubs, non-denim slacks, and closed-toed, non-sneaker shoes. A nametag will be worn if the name is not embroidered on the company shirt/scrubs.

• Front-office staff should dress in "business casual." They are required to wear nametags or company shirts. As stated above, distracting items in appearance or dress, low-cut clothing, exposed midriff, evening wear, T-shirts, or sheer clothing are unacceptable. Business-like open-toed shoes may be worn, not to include flip-flops or beach sandals.

• (Your practice name) and its directors reserve the right to ask employees who are not dressed in what is deemed a clean and professional manner to change their attire. Failure to comply with the policy will result in being sent home without pay. Further infraction will result in written disciplinary action as decided by the directors.

• Appearance and perception play a key role in patient service. The goal is to be dressed professionally; any employee with body art must ensure that it is covered at all times.

There is a time and place to express staff members' personality, and the workplace should not be that location. If employees follow these types of guidelines and patients still make inappropriate comments, take the offending patient aside, privately, and share your concerns about inappropriate conversation.

It's also important to note that if nine out of 10 employees follow the dress-code policy, and you have one outlier, taking that employee aside and reviewing your policy in a private conversation is much more appropriate than including the entire staff.

The dress-code policy is in place not only to protect your staff, but also to protect your practice. Comments made by patients can be construed by staff as sexual harassment, and contribute to a "threatening work environment." It is up to you to make sure these types of scenarios never happen. In the event they do, have a solid dress-code policy to land back on.


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Can forces align to use health IT to improve care and lower costs?

Can forces align to use health IT to improve care and lower costs? | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Health information technology (health IT) is essential to providing clinicians and patients with the information and tools necessary to make decisions that can improve health outcomes and lower costs. While the 2009 Meaningful Use program (included in the federal stimulus package) and other initiatives have increased the adoption and use electronic health records (EHRs) there are many concerns about the benefits of health IT and the future of health IT policy. These concerns are particularly timely given the recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announcement to expand the use of value-based payment models in Medicare, as well as the release of a national roadmap to achieve interoperable health IT. Likewise, in the private sector, many organizations are shifting to value-based payments and are developing innovative products and services to capitalize on the potential of health IT.

On March 4, the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform hosted an event to discuss the current state of health IT adoption, its potential to reinforce a quality and value-based payment system, and identify which policy changes will be necessary to support meaningful health IT transformation. The discussion included keynote remarks from Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator for Health IT, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as health IT and other policy experts.


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The Internet of Things: The Reality of Connected Healthcare

The Internet of Things: The Reality of Connected Healthcare | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The Internet of Things, the idea that everything will someday be totally connected, is no longer a Jetson’s era fantasy. It’s becoming closer to a reality in healthcare.

We’ve discussed IoT in healthcare and what its impact could be, but what would that look like? How can healthcare be ready for this total connectivity? Most importantly, how will IoT be able to increase the efficiency of the system benefiting both practitioner and patient alike?

Increased Efficiency

Forbes discusses how IoT will be able to increase efficiency in healthcare in multiple ways. As the capabilities of devices enhance, issues can be solved remotely as well as more effectively. Further, when there are issues with devices or supplies need to be refilled, the devices will be able to sound the alarm, and the issue can be dealt with proactively. What this comes down to is that machines will be better able to regulate themselves, and this data can then continue to be used to increase efficiency of processes. Companies with connected devices are already seeing results as to how cost-effective this can be.

Effective Patient Data

How can connected devices support patients? Through data. If we think of Wearables as part of personal IoT, and the health data that Wearables can provide, we know how the data alone can benefit patients.There are many other devices that can be implemented to employ beneficial data. For example, some hospitals have begun to use smart beds, alerting nurses when patients are trying to get up, or the bed itself can help patients get up using varying pressure and support. Devices can even help patients once they leave the hospital like smart pill bottles that know when a prescription needs to be refilled or a patient hasn’t take their medicine.

Utilizing Connectivity

Greater connectivity will become apparent with these new devices, but how can these technologies be incorporated into everyday practices? Take for example Google Glass. Pierre Theodore, MD talks about the possibilities that Google Glass can provide for the doctor as opposed to the consumer. As a doctor you could use a device like Google Glass, or even simply a mobile device, to aid your practice with quick access to patient information, scheduling, and all other data connected to the cloud. This is just one way that the increased connectivity that IoT allows can be utilized.

While achieving total connectivity will require changes to the system, we are beginning to see a shift already, and the privacy and security of this data must also be prioritized. But it is clear that once devices are fully connected in the cloud, collecting data from sensors and intelligent devices, improvements can be made to healthcare. Efficiency will be increased, costs will be driven down, practitioners will have an easier time doing their job and in the end, patients will have a more valuable healthcare experience. How do you see IoT affecting healthcare?


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Pearls for Improving Your Online Reputation

Pearls for Improving Your Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The Internet has leveled the information playing field, allowing all members of society access to information about their doctors and their health care. Data reported by Credential Protection indicate that specific doctor names are searched dozens of times to over 50 times daily by patients. Often, patients book surgery with a surgeon and then research the doctor after the appointment.


For medicine, the impact of the telecommunication revolution has been profound. What patients find through Google searches and on social media and online review sites can influence the doctor-patient relationship.


Maintaining a successful online reputation requires three basic components: patient capture, patient engagement, and patient retainment. If all of these components are not strong, doctors will lose patients. If patients cannot find you on the Internet, then from their point of view you do not exist, and you fail to capture those patients. If patients do not feel engaged on social media, then you may not be interesting enough for those patients to seek your care. If patients see bad online reviews, then a tarnished online reputation will drive those patients away. In the digital age, doctors must develop a strong online reputation through these three online components.


Because of the ongoing telecommunications evolution, marketing through the Internet, social media, and doctor- review websites is becoming more cost-effective than traditional advertising modalities such as phonebooks, newspapers, magazine, radio, and television. Online review sites such as Yelp! and Angie’s List have become well-known and serve as a new type of word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age. These sites allow users to leave comments about their customer service experiences, products they have purchased, and other information for other people who may be looking for such advice.


Physicians and their practices are not exempt from these online reviews. Sites that allow patients to talk about their experiences at the doctor’s office and recommend (or not recommend) the practice can be helpful or harmful. Glowing reviews can attract new patients. However, negative or unjust reviews posted by competing doctors or disgruntled patients can affect a doctor’s business and professional reputation, potentially leading to lost patients.


Most current online review sites are unsatisfactory because anyone with a valid e-mail account can leave reviews anonymously. Online review websites that depend mainly on advertising dollars often look unprofessional and may even place competitors’ ads alongside doctors’ profiles. Dealing with slanderous or false reviews can be frustrating and time-consuming.


Unfortunately, I have been a victim of slanderous online reviews. After graduating high school, I devoted 17 years of my life studying to become a physician and surgeon, attaining medical and doctoral degrees at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. I have a distinguished curriculum vitae and have dedicated much of my adult life to serving patients in a professional and ethical manner. One day after the grand opening of my private practice, I was attacked online by an anonymous poster who called me a “money grubber” on a third-party online review site. Most likely I was the victim of a competing doctor or disgruntled associate, although I may never know. This insult was applied to me even though I have spent considerable time seeing patients at the Temecula-Murrieta Rescue Mission at no charge, not billing the patients, and giving glasses away at no cost for those who cannot afford them.


You see, therefore, why I say most current online review sites are unregulated and severely unjust, and they can have horrible consequences for doctors. Online review websites are natural magnets for negative reviews. An outstanding doctor who never has angered one patient may receive no positive reviews, but angry patients can be quick to slander their doctors.


The current state of online reviews may make doctors feel helpless, angry, and frustrated. However, there are seven high-impact things you can do to be proactive and fight against defamation of your name, your reputation, and your credentials.


No. 1: Perform reconnaissance. The first step in fighting the war against slanderous reviews is to be educated on what people find when searching your name. Search your name on Google and see what others will see when searching your name. Monitor the websites that appear on the first page of Google. Use Google Alerts to receive automated emails from Google when there is new information about your name on the Internet. Monitor your online presence often.


No. 2: Erect a brick wall. In search engine management, the term brick wall is applied to a technique used to control the presentation of websites people find when searching your name. When patients search “Andrew Doan” on Google, of the more than 17 million search results, I control and monitor the 9 or 10 websites that appear on the first page of the search. Controlling what people find in this way can draw attention away from less-credible doctor-review sites.


No. 3: Use search engine optimization and management. The use of search engine optimization and management can help raise the websites you want to appear higher in search results. One effective way to accomplish this is to add your practice website address to all social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.


In addition, using social media websites such as Facebook can be an effective way to guide patients to your practice and to engage them in a controlled environment. Patients who “like” or comment on your page are helping you broadcast your practice to their personal connections. This is one form of word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age.


No. 4: Be a good, ethical medical professional. This sounds like common sense, but medical professionals may come to feel entitled and forget that being a good doctor means serving other people. Try to serve others with a caring heart, but without expecting anything in return. Remember that it is a privilege to work in the medical

profession and to be employed during these difficult economic times. Learn to love what you do. Unhappy medical professionals will foster unhappy patients, leading to bad online reviews.


No. 5: Encourage patients to post feedback online. Receiving positive reviews is as easy as asking patients to review your services online. The problem is that there are dozens of review websites, and only a fraction of patients will take the time spontaneously to post reviews online. If you don’t ask, most likely patients will not post reviews for you.


No. 6: The solution to pollution is dilution. Negative reviews are not necessarily bad. We all want to be perfect, but in reality nobody is perfect. A study by researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that in some cases negative publicity can increase sales when a product or company is relatively unknown, simply because it stimulates product awareness.1 Embrace the negative reviews, learn from them, and become a better doctor tomorrow than you were today.


Unfortunately, not all review websites represent true patient reviews; they may be postings by local competitors or slanderous individuals. The solution to negative reviews is not litigation or gag orders, which may expose one to ligation for violating free speech laws, as was seen in a case involving a New York dentist.2 Also, posting of false testimonials to one’s own practice can lead to loss of medical license and a large monetary fine, as occurred in the case of a New York plastic surgeon in 2009.3


The answer to negative reviews is to learn from the review and then accumulate more positive than negative reviews.


No. 7: Encourage the posting of third-party verified reviews. Work with a third-party organization, such as Verified Reviews, that will collect, process, and post reviews on your behalf. One answer to the current review system that naturally attracts negative reviews is to have a credible organization collect, verify, and post reviews to protect both doctor and patients.


First-mover advantage—a marketing term meaning the advantage gained by being the first to take advantage of a particular market segment—is important when encouraging patients to review your medical and professional services. First-mover advantage allows a doctor to accumulate more reviews than the competition.


When patients search for doctors on the Internet, the two most influential factors are the star rating and the number of reviews for a doctor; the higher the star rating and the greater the number of reviews, the greater the competence and value conveyed to patients.

CONCLUSION

The advancement and evolution of information technology is exciting, but it also presents new challenges for physicians and patients. Many patients prefer Internet resources and are likely to use online resources as their primary reference, including searching for, finding, and reviewing doctors. Your online reputation rests in their hands. The advice in this article may help return some of that control to your own.

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Physician Online Reputation Management

Physician Online Reputation Management | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Physician review sites like Vitals, RateMd and Yelp have become increasingly important in the digital medicine revolution.  Patients are relying more and more on the input of other patients to help them make decisions on a medical specialist.  In most instances, prospective patients are finding a physicians website and then cross referencing their services with review sites to solidify whether or not they should make an appointment.  Ensuring your online reputation is managed properly has become a science in and of itself.


Sadly, review sites have become a Pandora’s Box for disgruntled consumers.  One study showed that dissatisfied consumers are 3 times more likely to leave a review than satisfied customers.  This is likely due to the cathartic feeling many consumers may feel after bashing a product or, in your case, a physician.  After that review has been posted many feel vindicated in knowing they may have permanently damaged your reputation by leaving an indelible smudge on your online reputation.


So, how do you avoid this seemingly inevitable pitfall?  First, let’s review what NEVER to do in regards to reviews.


Directly Responding To A Negative Review


For many physicians seeing a negative review immediately puts them on the defensive and they feel the need to publicly refute these claims.  This is one of the worst mistakes you can make.  Publicly addressing this gives other potential patients the idea that you are petty and self-righteous.  I know it may be hard to sit idly by while a patient misrepresents a series of events or experience with your practice.  However, going on the message board and defending yourself lets patients know you can more about your online reputation than you do your patients.

Inherently, we know your online reputation is important but the potential patient can never know that.  Your results and reviews have to seem organic and not micro managed or orchestrated.


Instead, try and do the research as to what patient left that review.  It may take some looking through your records, but with some digging you can usually narrow it down.  Once you have established who the patient is, reach out to them directly whether it be via phone or email.  Let them know that you saw their review and that you are aware of their disappointment and vigorously apologetic.  Offer to rectify the complaint with another consult at no cost or recommending another specialist for them.  Do not be afraid to be personal and say things like, “As a medical professional my primary concern is my patients.  Seeing reviews like this really makes me evaluate my bedside manner and helps me improve my demeanor for future patients.”


The most important thing to convey is that their grievance has been taken into consideration and will help you in the future.  Many times the patient will supplement their original review and note that you reached out to them personally.  Many others will remove the review altogether.


Patients Can Smell It From A Mile Away


Most physicians believe that a slew of gleaming 5 star reviews is the best way to capture new patients from a review site.  Wrong.  By nature, most people are inherently skeptical and pessimistic.  Many only visit review sites to validate their preconceived notions of a product or service.  Sadly, no one believes in perfection.  If patients see nothing but overwhelmingly positive reviews about you they are going to become suspicious.

This may seem counterintuitive as 5 stars is always better than 4 stars.  However, it is a matter of plausibility.  A 4 star review is often more plausible if the only complaint was something a patient would reasonably expect.


For instance, an effective 4 star review would be:


“Dr. Smith was great.  He explained why I was in so much pain and took the time to go over all of the things I could do at home to relieve my pain.  We also discussed surgery but he wanted to wait and make sure we had gone through all of the conservative treatments first.  My only complaint was that my appointment was at 5:30pm but I was not seen until 5:45pm.  Other than that Dr. Smith was great and I would definitely recommend him.”

You lost a star, but it is negligible because the review was so positive.  The only complaint was a longer wait time than expected.  However, this is nothing new to anyone who has ever been to a physician’s office.  The key here was plausibility.  As a potential patient, I believe this person is real and I believe their assessment of their interaction with you because of the slight imperfection.


Leaving Fake Reviews


Many practices have taken to leaving fabricated reviews that reflect positive reviews of patients that never existed.  Although this may seem like a good idea it is irresponsible in terms of ethics.  I know it seems like an easy way to bolster your reputation but I urge you not to engage in this shameful practice.

Also, many review sites have become savvy to this tactic and have begun tracking ISP’s to determine whether or not these reviews are valid.  If a review site sees an abundance of reviews being left from the same ISP and location it may flag your page.  If prospective patients find out you have been lying about your reviews they are also going to wonder what else you may be lying about.  Your credentials?  Your skills?  Your expertise?


Furthermore, there are legal ramifications for leaving fake reviews:

The FTC has the following guidelines for patient reviews:

  • All reviews must be truthful and not misleading in any way

  • Even paid endorsements are considered to be deceptive if they make false or misleading claims


If the FTC or BBB find that your practice has been posting fake or deceptive reviews online, or that they are being compensated for the activity, you could face a hefty fine.


This is also true for leaving negative reviews on competing physicians review sites.

Many review sites, such as Vitals, will allow you to hide or remove 1-2 reviews that you feel are invalid or fake.  Other sites allow you to contest a review if you can prove that it is not genuine.  It is always best to attempt to hide these reviews first as attempting to deal with the Customer Service teams on these sites is an exercise in futility.  Generally, their response is that they are not responsible for the reviews left on your page as long as the site has deemed them to be credible.  “Credibility” is usually based on a proprietary system that the site uses to crawl reviews.

Another thing to be aware of is that Yelp has a filtering system that posts some reviews and not others, according to a recentForbes.com article.

“My wife, a Realtor, had a similar experience: ‘They seem be wary of first-time reviewers. If your first review is negative then they let you post other reviews, but if your first review is positive then they remove it. The same goes if all your reviews are positive.’

She went on: “I called Yelp after a business associate posted a positive review about me which was later removed. They hinted that if I advertised on Yelp this may not have occurred.”

A case can be made that this borders on extortion.


A Practical Solution


With many of my clients I have faced the daunting task of cleaning up their online reputations after years of mismanagement.  In response to this I created a simple process that has worked incredibly well.

I created a card that is slightly bigger than a business card that physicians give to a patient as they are leaving the office.  This card thanks them for coming in, includes the practices phone number and also encourages them to leave a review on one of the physician review sites and includes a short link to each site.

The most important thing about using this system is what I call “The Moment”.  This occurs when the patient is exiting the exam room and you know that they are ecstatic.  It is at this point where you need to break the confines of the doctor patient relationship, look them in the eye, shake their hand and genuinely thank them for coming in.  During this time is when you say to them, “I am truly thrilled that you are so happy.  Here is a card with my number on it.  If you need anything please do not hesitate to call.  Also, if you want to leave a review just take a look at the back of the card.”

The patient is so flattered by your handshake and sincerity that they are now exceedingly likely to leave a positive review  The key is to encourage the right patients to leave reviews.  These are the patients that you know are happy and are willing to go the extra mile for you.  The success rate of these cards is astounding but it is predicated on your ability to captivate them in “The Moment”.

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5 Tips for Improving Your LinkedIn Profile - CompHealth

5 Tips for Improving Your LinkedIn Profile - CompHealth | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Do you use LinkedIn to connect with colleagues? This social network is a great way to display your work experience, showcase your unique skills and find a new position at a hospital or other healthcare facility. Whether you’re looking for a new job or just want to make your work history more appealing, these five tips can help you improve your LinkedIn profile:


  1. Include a professional headshot with your profile. The first thing people will notice is your photo, so make sure it’s high-quality and reflects the industry in which you work. While it’s not necessary to have a studio-quality photo, your profile picture should have a simple, monochromatic background and be cropped from your shoulders up. Business attire such as a blazer, collared shirt and tie is recommended, but a photo taken in your lab coat is also appropriate.
  2. Use the headline section to list your current position or promote the job you’re looking for. By default, LinkedIn will fill this section with your current job. However, you can customize it by clicking the Edit button at the top of your profile. If you’re in the market for a new position, include a description with specific keywords employers are looking for. For example, you could write “Family practice doctor with 20 years of clinical experience” so that your profile would show up in both LinkedIn and Google search results.
  3. Write your descriptions in clear, conversational language. Though your colleagues may be familiar with technical terms and medical acronyms, a hiring manager at a hospital or clinic may find these confusing. Spell out even the most common abbreviations, like PA or NP, on first reference and list all relevant experience in the summary section of your profile. Be sure to write in the first person at all times to keep your descriptions friendly and easy to read.
  4. Be sure to include contact information on your profile. Prospective employers and other friends can get in touch with you through InMail (LinkedIn’s email system), but the contact information section on your profile is a great place to list an email address, relevant blog link or even a cell phone number if you’d like to be contacted. Remember that everything you post in this section is public, so keep your contacts (and prospective contacts) in mind as you update it.
  5. Set a customized profile URL you can share easily. If you haven’t already done so, edit your profile URL so it includes your name instead of letters or numbers. Doing this makes your profile more professional and also allows you to add the link to your signature line or blog so others can connect with you on LinkedIn.


These simple tips can help your profile stand out to both colleagues and employers — and they can also help you gain more confidence in promoting the unique talents you bring to the healthcare industry.

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10 reputation management tips for doctors - Social Media GP

10 reputation management tips for doctors - Social Media GP | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

A patient complained about a doctor on Facebook and generated a lot of online traffic. The story was reported in the newspapers. The Medical Board started an investigation. Pending the outcome the doctor relocated to another city. This left the local community without a doctor as no replacement could be found.


A year later the doctor’s name was cleared by the board. But the damage was done. And for many years the article kept showing up in Google search results in relation to the doctor as well as her old practice.


The good news is that I made this scenario up. The bad news: reputation damage can happen to all of us. Pro-active online reputation management should be part of a healthy risk mitigation strategy.


Here are some simple (ethical) tricks I have used to manage my online reputation and improve my Google rankings. You can do it too, it’s easy. It is applicable to your personal brand (your name) as well as your organisation.

1. Always respond to customer needs and expectations

Prevention is better than cure. Our managers act on complaints immediately, as negative comments have the potential to spiral rapidly out of control, especially online. Here is an example of how not to handle a social media crisis.


Our quality assurance committee starts its meetings with a ‘good, bad and ugly’ review of the past month. The group looks at any problems or feedback received, including e.g. Facebook comments. We’re not perfect by any means, but this approach allows our organisation to improve patient services on an ongoing basis.

2. Create, promote, and update your own online content

Develop a professional website but don’t stop there! Start a Blog. Create social media profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, and update your profiles regularly. This will improve search engine rankings so your own content will show up first. Use namechk.com to find out which social networks are available.


3. Interconnect your online profiles


This will further improve rankings. Splash pages like about.me help to connect your profiles in one place.

4. Encourage constructive criticism and respond timely to feedback

Engage when people post comments. Respond preferably on the same day. Look at feedback as free business advice. Thank the reviewer and explain your point of view. We have learned from the comments on our website and practice Facebook page.

5. Don’t argue online (and offline)

Set an example. Be a leader. I know this is not always easy, but an angry response is as bad as no response. Be aware that many clients are watching. Avoid deleting comments as this will usually not help your case.

6. Monitor the web

Google yourself and your organisation at least weekly. Set up Google alerts for your own name and other brands or topics you would like to follow. Free services like peekyou.com,Socialmention.com, and Veooz.com can be helpful. There are lots of other tools to watch your web presence.

7. Correct and improve information on external sites

Most sites will update your details at no cost. Some sites like HealthEngine or HealthOptions Australia may have added your name and address but will only allow you to update details or improve your listing after paying a subscription fee.


If you feel a review about you or your organisation is incorrect or unfair ask the owner of the website to make amendments. If that’s not an option request to write a comment on the feedback. Google will only remove reviews if they contain unlawful content, are spam, off-topic or if there is a conflict of interest.


Google offers useful tips about how to respond to reviews.

8. Improve positive content, push down negative content

There are many reputation management services on the web. They improve rankings and make it harder for negative content to show up high in search results. Brandyourself.com is an excellent free reputation management tool to improve your personal search results. You need to have a social media profile and a website before you start.


9. Be ready to engage with traditional media

Have an official spokes person. Consider media training. I like to give journalists a written summary of the main message our organisation wants to bring across.

10. Know the rules

The Guidelines for advertising of regulated health services explain the advertising limitations under the ‘Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009’. The Good Medical Practice Code of Conduct of the Australian Medical Board includes principles about how to respond to complaints. If in doubt, ask your medical defence organisation.


Most social media networks, including Facebook have rules. This article is a great illustration: Kicked off Facebook? Here’s what happened. If you want to know how not to use social media – and stay out of trouble – have a look at the AMA social media guidelines.

Reputation management will take time and ongoing commitment. We’re improving our strategies all the time – learning from our mistakes. Let us know how you go! Tips are always welcome!

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This surgeon embraces social media. Here's why she converted.

This surgeon embraces social media. Here's why she converted. | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

I am converted. Like many doctors, I was very leary of social media, wary about using it, skeptical of its professional value. Especially Twitter, but really all of the platforms. No longer: I have embraced social media, and it has embraced me.

I feel a little bit like Dr. Strangelove, only the subtitle is now “How I Learned To  Stop Worrying and Love Social Media.”

Like most converts, I find myself an enthusiastic proselyte, spreading the good word to friends and colleagues, regaling them with my new-found experiences using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. Discovering more sites and platforms, like Sermo, Doximity, Docphin, and Medstro, to name a few. (Disclosure: I have no financial or other arrangement with any of these, but have written for both Sermo and Medstro, and am a discussion panelist later this month on Medstro.) The list goes on and on, and keeps growing. Websites and apps abound; they all go mobile, so much content to explore. So much time to waste!

“Waste of time” is the most common and scathing criticism leveled at social media by my physician friends and colleagues who have not yet seen the light. It is true: One could get lost for hours. But you can set limits. I find that when I have gotten carried away and eventually come up for air, my getting drawn in was because I have been engrossed in the content, the opinion pieces, blogs, journal articles, and medical news. I have been connecting, networking, even discussing important topics (as with a virtual journal club).  Social media has yielded much more value and content per unit of time spent than the same time spent rifling through a journal, or surfing the Internet, cozying up to a textbook. I might also add that I am much more likely now to engage in reading this kind of content via social media than before, when faced with the stack of journals next to my desk.

There is a growing body of content — meetings, lectures, webinars, articles — extolling the benefits and raising the cautions for physicians venturing in to the social media landscape. Surgical blogger Skeptical Scalpel was published recently in a scholarly journal, summarizing the benefits of blogging and tweeting, with excellent advice as well. This recent post by The Doctors Company is also an excellent introduction and guide to social media for doctors, collaborating with KevinMD who himself provides rich content and advice on his own blog. (Disclosure: Several of my own blog posts have been re-shared via KevinMD.) Both of these posts are a great introduction. I urge everyone to avail themselves of any of the abundant seminars and lectures introducing doctors to social media, whether at medical meetings or via physician-focused websites and platforms like Sermo (the sponsor of the most recent webinar I attended). There is rich content on the Internet, and even on social media itself.

It is important to be careful of the pitfalls, but those are not sufficient to bar adoption of social media or prevent use. Be mindful of privacy and HIPAA, and aware that content once posted can never really be deleted or retracted. Be careful that private and professional content do not mix, although the reality is that there really isn’t any such thing as truly private content (except maybe for internal messaging applications, but even this content is likely “discoverable”). Cautionary tales and horror stories abound. In reality, this is not terribly different than how we comport ourselves as professionals IRL (in real life), on a smaller scale, with a smaller audience, and less exposure than the Internet and social media.

The benefits are pretty compelling, and I broadly characterize them as scholarly content, news, networking, and opinion. But one final and surprising benefit has not been written about that much, and it has been a pleasant discovery. That discovery is the sense of professional community I have found via social media. I noticed, bit by bit, as I began to blog and tweet, I have been able to find my own community of peers, my “kindred spirits” (borrowing from Anne Shirley, the heroine of Anne of Green Gables). Like the orphaned Anne, it is important to identify and find one’s own community, which in turn helps navigate the (professional) world, find meaning, support and sympathy, a place to share.

In medicine, this sense of community was fostered by the formation of our medical societies and organizations, even if it was not their primary purpose. But times have changed, and interest and involvement in these organizations has been on the decline for myriad reasons. The traditional construct of meetings and conferences, taking time away from patients and practices, is not viable for many physicians. Time is limited, and expenses add quickly, so the numbers of meetings physicians are able to attend are limited as they are compelled to be frugal with both time and money. In addition, these traditional methods of connecting — for networking, communicating/collaborating, and even educating (CME/continuing medical education is a big part of medical meetings) — are viewed as cumbersome and less relevant to doctors today, especially the younger generations.

Therefore, I also see social media as part of the solution to reestablish this sense of community and collegiality among doctors. Technology and the platforms being developed and tailored to physicians may re-create that space, where communication and collaboration can grow.

As doctors enter the world of social media in greater numbers, it is clear that rules and regulations, codes of conduct, parameters and boundaries will be established and enforced. We need be a part of this, as participants, so that we are not disenfranchised by others who would do this for us. We need to protect our voices, our communication, and ultimately our patients.

Times are changing. Change happens all the time, all around, inside and out. It is random, with no direction, both good and bad, like genetic mutations. This is our opportunity to engage and participate, to direct the change, and to make it progress.


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Physician Beware: Delayed Annuities with Guarantees

Physician Beware: Delayed Annuities with Guarantees | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Forgive me for the somewhat arcane topic, but I see a constant stream of delayed annuities with guaranteed withdrawal benefits sold and advertised, and I think this needs to be addressed.

Here are some of the key things physicians should know about annuities, and why they may want to proceed cautiously when considering delayed annuities with guaranteed withdrawal benefits:


The two types of annuities:


Annuities are instruments that involve giving an insurance company your money and then hopefully getting some or more of it back in the future.  The two broad types of annuities are immediate annuities and delayed annuities. 

Immediate annuities occur when you give the insurance company money and it immediately begins giving you regular (usually monthly) income for a period time or for your lifetime (or even for a joint lifetime with your spouse).  You receive a return of your principal, some interest on the principal, and a small "mortality benefit" of money that comes from people who buy such an annuity and then die earlier than expected.

A delayed annuity occurs when the insurance company keeps your money for a while before you are allowed to take your investment back. 


Delayed annuities with guaranteed withdrawal benefits:


Currently popular are delayed annuities with guaranteed withdrawal benefits.  You will hear them advertised as a product in which you cannot lose money no matter what the stock market does. You may even hear that such an annuity allows you to make gains in a good market.

Those selling these products may promise that you can take withdrawals after 10 years on twice the amount of money you initially deposited, guaranteed.

So, you give the insurance company $100,000, and are guaranteed a given withdrawal rate (usually 4 percent to 5 percent at age 65) on $200,000 after 10 years. 

If you are considering one of these products, just assume this is the absolute best you will do.  Realize that you may not withdraw the $200,000, but only get the guaranteed withdrawal amount. 

Although it appears that you are receiving up to a 10 percent return on your initial investment as an annual withdrawal, the financial math actually reveals a low single-digit return (remember the insurance company has the use of your money in full for 10 full years, then is paying you back completely with your own funds over the next 10 years of withdrawals while still having the majority of your funds to invest for itself).

These products have such high internal costs (especially including very fat commissions up front for the salesmen that push them) that any promise to participate in stock market gains is a very iffy promise indeed.

If you are contemplating buying such a product, I'd recommend you get some fiduciary and impartial advice. 

Ignore the selling points and assume that you are giving an insurance company money that will be paid back many years later with a very small return (assuming the insurance company remains solvent).

There remains no "free lunch."

benefits.

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A Physician's Role in Team-Based Patient Care

A Physician's Role in Team-Based Patient Care | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

With Medicare-eligible citizens now representing the fastest-growing segment of the American population, it is more important than ever to find fresh approaches and new models of care to effectively manage the health and well-being of this group. Physicians, hospitals, and health plans need to find ways to work together if they are to provide patients with a higher quality of life and better care coordination while lowering overall healthcare costs. This is particularly true as it applies to low-income seniors, dual eligibles, and others with complex medical and social needs.

One tactic that is proving to be successful in this area is a high-intensity care-team approach outside of the hospital setting. Such an approach goes well beyond traditional care coordination and is consistent with a recent Avalere Health study, which reported that to be successful in today's environment, health plans and physicians need to not only focus on treating a person's medical condition but must also have strategies in place for managing a broad array of care needs across multiple settings.

For primary-care physicians, participation in a care-team program can ease the burden associated with the management of complex-care patients. It also provides a way to better manage the cost of these patients by optimizing their health and functional status, decreasing excess healthcare use, minimizing emergency department visits and other hospital utilization (including readmissions), and preventing long-term nursing home placement. 

Central to an effective care-team program is a support team overseen by a nurse practitioner and a social worker that work in concert with the primary-care physician to comprehensively address a patient's health conditions and achieve a patient's goal from the comfort of their own home. To be successful it is imperative that the team provides patients with healthcare education; medication management; and coordination of care between specialty physicians, the emergency department, hospitals, and a broad array of community support services.

In addition to better serving patients from a clinical and social standpoint, there are strategic reasons for primary-care physicians to consider programs such as these. For those physicians who participate in an accountable care organization (Medicare and/or commercial), take capitated risk, or serve a significant Medicare population (and are at risk for adverse events such as readmission and other penalties), this type of coordination can be a significant element in the move from fee-for-service to value-based pricing while generating cash flow and cost savings.

It is no wonder then that the Avalere study said that enrolling members into an effective care-transition or care-coordination program "can help … reduce their members' healthcare utilization and subsequently their spending." In a model presented in the study, Geriatric Resources for Assessment and Care of Elders (GRACE) Team Care™  from Indiana University Medical Center produced annual savings for high-risk members of nearly $4,300 while producing a ROI for the health plan of 95 percent per year.

Physicians looking to participate in a care-team approach outside of the hospital should be sure that their program includes:

• In-home assessment and care management by a team of experts.

• Specific protocols to manage common geriatric conditions.

• Integrated EHR documentation.

• Web-based care management tracking.

• Integrated pharmacy, mental health, hospital, home health, and community-based services.

• Individualized care planning and implementation of a care plan consistent with the participant's goals.

• Frequent inter-professional team conferences.

• Nurse practitioner and social worker meetings with the primary-care physician.

• Ongoing care management and caregiver support.

• Protocols to ensure continuity and coordination of care including smooth transitions from one point on the healthcare continuum to another.

Older patients with chronic conditions and functional limitations require more medical services and social support than do their less complex or younger counterparts. And beyond their physical healthcare challenges, these patients often must deal with a host of socioeconomic stressors including low health literacy, limited access, fragmented healthcare, and poor communication and coordination of care.

The combination of all of these factors makes it imperative that physicians, hospitals, and health plans continue to look for even better ways to serve these citizens in need. By moving the traditional concept of care coordination to a new level, the entire healthcare system can be more efficient, more patient-centric and more responsive to improving the entire patient experience.


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The Fundamental Challenge of Building a Healthcare-Provider Focused Startup

The Fundamental Challenge of Building a Healthcare-Provider Focused Startup | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Over the past few years, the government imposed copious regulations on healthcare providers, most of which are supposed to reduce costs, improve access to care, and consumerize the patient experience. Prior to 2009, the federal government was far less involved in driving the national healthcare agenda, and thus provider IT budgets, innovation, and research and development agendas among healthcare IT vendors.

This is, in theory (and according to the government), a good idea. Prior to the introduction of the HITECH act in 2009, IT adoption in healthcare was abysmal. The government has most certainly succeeded in driving IT adoption in the name of the triple aim. But this has two key side effects that directly impact the rate at which innovation can be introduced into the healthcare provider community.

The first side effect of government-driven innovation is that all of the vendors are building the exact same features and functions to adhere to the government requirements. This is the exact antithesis of capitalism, which is designed to allow companies to innovate on their own terms; right now, every healthcare IT vendor is innovating on the government’s terms. This is massively inefficient at a macroeconomic level, and stifles experimentation and innovation, which is ultimately bad for providers and patients.

But the second side effect is actually much more nuanced and profound. Because the federal government is driving an aggressive health IT adoption schedule, healthcare providers aren’t experimenting as much as they otherwise would. Today, the greatest bottleneck to providers embarking on a new project is not money, brain power, or infrastructure. Rather, providers are limited in their ability to adopt new technologies by their bandwidth to absorb change. It is simply not possible to undertake more than a handful of initiatives at one time; management can’t coordinate the projects, IT can’t prepare the infrastructure, and the staff can’t adjust workflows or attend training rapidly enough while caring for patients.

As the government drives change, they are literally eating up providers’ ability to innovate on any terms other than the government’s. Prominent CIOs like John Halamka from BIDMC have articulated the challenge of keeping up with government mandates, and the need to actually set aside resources to innovate outside of government mandates.

Thus is the problem with health IT entrepreneurship today. Solving painful economic or patient-safety problems is simply not top of mind for CIOs, even if these initiatives broadly align with accountable care models. They are focused on what the government has told them to focus on, and not much else. Obviously, existing healthcare IT vendors are tackling the government mandates; it’s unlikely an under-capitalized startup without brand recognition can beat the legacy vendors when the basis of competition is so clear: do what the government tells you. Startups thrive when they can asymmetrically compete with legacy incumbents.

Google beat Microsoft by recognizing search was more important than the operating system; Apple beat Microsoft by recognizing mobile was more important than the desktop; SalesForce beat Oracle and SAP because they recognized the benefits of the cloud over on-premise deployments; Voalte is challenging Vocera because they recognized the power of the smartphone long before Vocera did. There are countless examples in and out of healthcare. Startups win when they compete on new, asymmetric terms. Startups never win by going head to head with the incumbent.

We are in an era of change in healthcare. It’s obvious that risk based models will become the dominant care delivery model, and this is creating enormous opportunity for startups to enter the space. Unfortunately, the government is largely dictating the scope and themes of risk-based care delivery, which is many ways actually stifling innovation.

Thus is the problem for health IT entrepreneurship today. Despite all of the ongoing change in healthcare, it’s actually harder than ever before to change healthcare delivery things as a startup. There is simply not enough attention of bandwidth to go around. When CIOs have strict project schedules that stretch out 18 months, how can startups break in? Startups can’t survive 18 month cycles.

Thus the is paradox of innovation: the more of it you’re told to innovate, the less you can actually innovate.


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5 Medical Device Tips for Maximizing Your IP (Intellectual Property) Portfolio

5 Medical Device Tips for Maximizing Your IP (Intellectual Property) Portfolio | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The world of medical devices is really fascinating. It’s a world that I think many hospitals know about and many more hospitals are starting to learn about as they grow some medical device innovations in house. With that in mind, I was really intrigued by a list I was emailed of 5 medical device IP tips from Frank Becking of Panthera MedTech.

  1. Control access to sensitive information: Don’t talk publicly about your idea before pursuing the necessary protection. Even with confidentiality agreements in place, until you have filed for a patent any disclosure risks your potential rights and future prospects.
  2. Make sure your company owns its intellectual property: This might seem obvious but it is easy to overlook key steps, like putting in place and enforcing agreements that ensure that work produced by employees and independent contractors becomes the property of the company. And making sure that those same contractors or employees do not have pre-existing, conflicting obligations to other parties. Work with legal counsel to ensure state law compliance of IP-related agreements, as some states restrict assignment and other scope.
  3. Don’t neglect country-by-country protection: IP protection opportunities differ around the globe. Select state-side IP counsel that has existing relationships with expert foreign counsel who can advise on how best to navigate international waters.
  4. Actively avoid third-party IP entanglement: Too often, corporate executives focus on the patentability of their own IP. Understanding and tracking 3rd party patents and the progress of their pending claims (i.e., handling questions of Freedom to Operate) often has a greater effect on corporate valuation. A startup with technology that infringes upon another company’s IP can be dead in the water. Design-around is very often an option, but usually represents a costly and time-consuming exercise that should be guided by experienced IP counsel.
  5. Formulate an IP enforcement strategy: It is important to monitor the market to ensure that your IP rights are not being infringed. However, the bigger question is often what a company should be done if it detects infringement. Venture-capital funded startups are notoriously averse to engaging in litigation. Sending a cease-and-desist letter can open the door for the noticed party taking the fight to you. Again, working closely with experienced IP counsel is key to understanding and pursuing your enforcement goals.

How many of your hospitals are dealing with these types of issues?


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