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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Online Reputation Protection for Physicians

Online Reputation Protection for Physicians | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The first thing to realize is that online physician reviews are written predominately by patients who are either delighted or disgusted by their most recent experience with your practice. As a result, a practice that provides good service most of the time, but occasionally keeps a patient or two waiting for an hour, can easily find itself with a relatively large number of scathing reviews.

 

But even if your practice has been hit by some negative reviews, keep in mind that new patients know that no practice is perfect. The best way to deal with a few negative reviews is to understand what's driving them, to try to anticipate and correct problems, and to build up positive reviews from happy patients to create a more realistic picture.

 

Here are some of our easiest-to-implement tips to improve your reviews:

 

1. Monitor rating sites

Healthgrades, Vitals, and Yelp are good places to start. A tech-savvy person with good judgment can take this on for your practice as "social media lead" — it may only take a few minutes per day to stay on top of reviews and respond as necessary (always encouraging the patient to call and never sharing personal health information online). This can be a great opportunity for a motivated staffer to branch out, improve his skills, and show off what he can do.

 

This person should report back to your whole office on what he finds. Reviews can be a wonderful resource to understand how patients see your practice. Applaud everyone's efforts to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your practice as it's presented online. Make sure to register as the practice owner on sites that allow you to respond to complaints. It's critical to respond quickly, emphasize privacy, and let the patient know how important it is to speak by phone or in person about the issue.

 

2. Don't forget payer directories

I can't tell you why so many payer directories are out of date, but inaccurate ones send many patients to physicians who are out of network; which results in unhappy patients hit with additional expenses they weren't expecting. This task might only take an hour or two every few months, but it might just save you a nasty review.

 

3. Resolve to communicate well with patients

Starting at check-in, simply keeping patients abreast of what to expect next and when to expect it can make all the difference — a patient told that the doctor is running 15 minutes late will be a lot happier than a patient who waits 15 minutes wondering if they'll be waiting an hour. While a doctor shouldn't be kept waiting for a patient to be roomed, it's important that a patient not be roomed long before they are expected to be seen by the physician — time can pass frustratingly slowly stuck in a white room with a poor selection of magazines. Your whole team should be vigilant about keeping patients informed.

 

4. Help patients understand payment responsibility

Many patients end up confused and angry at the practice when hit with unexpected costs, and they often turn online to voice their displeasure. It's in everyone's interest to be clear about what the patient will be expected to pay at their visit — and of course, it's important for your bottom line that your staff is comfortable collecting in a professional manner.

 

5. Check-in at check-out

If you have staff dedicated to checking patients out, they can play a hugely beneficial role by simply and sincerely asking each patient how their visit went. When the practice messes up (and nobody's perfect), having somebody listening to the complaint can make a huge difference. If the patient is really upset, the administrator can personally offer a heartfelt apology.

 

6. Aim to delight

It's amazing to see what a truly service-oriented staff can do. When patients are greeted uniformly by staff who are personally committed to caring for the comfort of each patient, your practice can stand apart from the typical practice where staff seem disinterested and/or too busy to bother. A side benefit of the high-attention-to-patients practice — it's much more pleasant to work at too.

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Doctors can establish their online reputation in these 2 ways

Doctors can establish their online reputation in these 2 ways | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

There are two ways that physicians can establish their online reputation. The first way is to use existing physician rating sites. What physician rating sites will do is create a profile page of every single doctor in the United States. This profile will have your name, your contact information, your board certification status, your hospital affiliation, and, of course, some of them allow patients to rate doctors online.

These pages are backed my companies who are experts in search engine optimization, SEO. (That’s the science of ranking high on Google.) Unless you already have a prominent online presence, these pages that get ranked high when your name is Googled can be patients’ first impression of you online. It’s important to go on these sites, claim your profile, make sure that it information is accurate.

A second way to establish your online reputation is to create content about yourself on the web. If you look at a sample Google results page, there are studies showing where readers click on that page.


About a third of readers will click on the very first result. Another third will click on the second or third result. Fewer than 10 percent of readers will even go on to the second page of results, so it’s important to control those top listings of Google when your name is searched for.

We need tools that are powerful in the eyes of Google and allow us to create content about ourselves online. Today, we’re in luck because we have those tools available to us. They are social media platforms: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube. They get ranked high in Google search engines and give us the flexibility to create content about ourselves online.


Defining ourselves online with social media is the most powerful way to establish our online reputation.

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Newscenter - Online reputation management for physicians

Newscenter - Online reputation management for physicians | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

As more patients go online to find information about physicians, your reputation is being built and managed on the Internet. And like it or not, your online reputation plays a role in acquiring new patients and maintaining trust with existing patients and colleagues. It is imperative for physicians to have a plan and focus on online reputation management.


Online reputation management is the process of preventing and repairing threats to your online reputation. It is done by tracking what is written about you and using techniques to address or moderate the information on search engine result pages or in social media. The goal is to promote positive or neutral content while suppressing negative content.


For physicians, online reputation management involves addressing information in three areas:


  1. information found on search engine results pages (Google);
  2. information found in social media (LinkedIn, FaceBook, blogs); and
  3. information on rating sites, such as Vitals, HealthGrades, Rate MDs, Yelp, and Angie’s List.


Recently, a physician received an email from a company offering online reputation management services to help him mitigate negative online reviews on sites such as Yelp, Google, and health care review sites such as Vitals.


There are hundreds of companies out there offering these services. However, physicians are urged to use extreme caution when choosing a reputation management company. Some companies engage in questionable techniques that could lead to disciplinary action by the Texas Medical Board (TMB).


Specifically, the company that emailed this physician said they “will post reviews for our clients to over 40 social media web sites . . . We post up to 25 reviews per month.”


This claim is alarming in the context of medical practice. How are they managing to post reviews from the patients of a particular physician? Are they making up reviews and then posting them? It is unethical and dishonest to post reviews on these sites that are not from actual patients. Physicians are held to a different standard than other businesses, and posting fake patient reviews is problematic. Doing so would also violate TMB advertising rules, as this type of advertising (and the TMB does consider this to be advertising) would be considered “misleading.”


Here are a few techniques for managing your own online reputation.

 Know what is being said. Conduct web searches on yourself and your practice regularly. Review the first 30 hits of the search. (Any hit past 30 is generally considered extraneous and not likely to be read.) (1) Among the top 30 hits, what are these sites saying about you? Continue to monitor these online discussions.


 Know what you can and cannot do about negative reviews.  Because of health care privacy laws, physicians cannot respond to online reviews. The fact that a patient’s identity is protected information directly hinders the physician’s ability to refute a complaint. Simply acknowledging publicly that the complaining party is a patient breaches confidentiality and violates HIPAA.


Physicians can consider giving patients more constructive ways to offer their feedback. Conducting a patient survey, for example, would be a good way for patients to express their dissatisfaction and feel empowered.


Another option is to talk to the patient directly if you can identify who made the comment. This should be done in person or over the phone. Begin by asking the patient why he or she is dissatisfied.


It is also a good idea to investigate the patient’s complaints. Is the complaint legitimate? Was the problem with a procedure, a staff member, or the patient's wait time? Can the problem be fixed?


 Optimize your site for search engines. Optimizing your site for search engines will ensure that anyone typing in your name or your practice name will see your web site at the top of the search list. Optimizing your site involves creating comprehensive and targeted meta tags and web site page titles that help search engines index your site. More sophisticated techniques include editing your site’s content, HTML, and associated coding; removing barriers to the indexing activities of search engines; increasing inbound links; or purchasing related web addresses.


Create your own blog. You cannot control what other people say about you online, but you can create your own story and your own content. Your blog could be as simple as one 300-word post per week. The content could be about services you are offering to patients, the importance of getting a flu shot, or any other health topic that is relevant to your patient base.


 Create a LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile is another aspect of your online presence that you create. Add information about where you went to school, your specialty, and your practice. Make your profile public so that patients and potential patients can learn about you in a way you can control.


Take advantage of that “thank you.” The next time you receive a thank you note or email from a patient or family member, ask that person to post their comments on your blog, on your LinkedIn profile, or on physician rating sites.


 Keep in mind that with the prevalence of smartphones and tablet PCs, patients can post a review of you — a positive or negative review — at anytime and from anywhere. Even from your waiting room. Don’t ignore what’s being said.

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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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Google+ for Physicians: A Free Tool for Reputation Management

Google+ for Physicians: A Free Tool for Reputation Management | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

With the expansion of rich information found on social media and review websites, the modern patient is empowered like never before. Researching physicians is as simple as browsing for a car or laptop: search engines and rating websites provide current or former patients a platform for sharing their experiences. Reputation management is a global process that begins and ends with networking sites like Google+. Social media is changing the healthcare game into something much more interactive. That is an exciting concept for professionals looking to amp up their referral systems.


Doctor review websites


Why Online Reputation Matters in Healthcare
People are increasingly referring to mobile devices to perform research online. A study by the Pew Research Center suggests that one in five people who use the internet to find a doctor rely on physician ratings.


The flip side of an internet presence is the potential for damaging feedback – that is the basis of reputation management. Any brand or physician should habitually search its name on Google to look for negative reviews or comments. In the medical world, this is how doctors keep up on what their patients are saying about them and what future patients see.


How does Social Media Fit into Healthcare?


A social media page on Google+ adds a way for doctors to better connect with the public. It’s an upbeat way to manage professional reputation and improve patient care. Patients see the bond with their physician as a very personal one. They appreciate the opportunity to vocalize their satisfaction or frustration with a specific physician or experience. Social media creates an e-patient scenario that allows the physician to promote healthy living, generate trust, and market the healthcare brand. For a doctor, time is in short supply, but fostering a positive reputation online allows you to stay ahead of the curve.

Building a Social Media Voice


The process of developing a “voice” will differ among physicians and service lines. A doctor with a full practice might spend only one hour a week on Google managing his online reputation, while a new cosmetic surgeon will need to commit much more time to creating a brand. Other doctors use their online voice to educate and promote wellness as a way to further their patient’s quality of care. Most businesses, medical or otherwise, realize the power of a professional website. Social media is just another tool to amplify that voice.


Doctor on twitter


What about Referrals?


Engaging with one person through social media translates into interaction with friends and family at the same time. Social media takes word of mouth to the next level. Consider some practical tips for using social media healthcare to enhance referrals:


Research your options – This is critical factor. Many healthcare facilities and organizations have specific rules and guidelines about social media. Take the time to investigate social media polices that affect your strategy to build an online presence.


Privacy is key in social media – Patient privacy is paramount, but it is easy to lose sight of that fact when interacting with a computer screen. Keep in mind the number of eyes that see posts on a social media page. This includes other patients and family members in addition to healthcare administrators, government bodies and content journalists.
Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer – Include an upfront disclaimer on all social media healthcare pages and posts. If communicating with patients through social media, such as during an hour-long Q&A on Twitter, point out that you are not providing a medical diagnosis or treatment.


Seek expert advice – Companies that specialize in reputation management are popping up every day. Find a firm that creates strategies to develop a social media voice. They can handle some of the preliminary legwork and ease you into the process.


Don’t mix business with pleasure – Keep separate social media accounts for your personal communication. If you use Facebook or Twitter to stay in touch with friends and family, don’t use them to foster a professional online reputation. This is as much a safety concern as business advice.


Conclusion


There is a new generation of patients out there, and they are more than just internet-savvy – they are internet-reliant. Doctors need to understand that reputation management and generating referrals online are now a concrete component of digital marketing. The internet, and specifically social media, is part of the modern medical practice.

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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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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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Transitioning to a Direct Primary-Care Medical Practice

Transitioning to a Direct Primary-Care Medical Practice | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

In 2013, family physician Bruce Jung found himself at a professional crossroads after leaving his position at a Corbin, Ky.-based community health center that he cofounded. He and his wife wanted to stay in the area to raise their six children but he was wary of navigating the complicated healthcare landscape as a solo practitioner.

"My wife heard about direct primary care (DPC) and we became fascinated with the concept," says Jung. "Being free from the hassles of working with insurers was very intriguing."


After doing some research and consulting with former colleagues, Jung embraced the DPC model and opened his solo practice, The Doc Shoppe, in January 2014. His patients have the option of paying a monthly membership fee in exchange for unlimited access to routine and preventive services, or enrolling on a fee-for-service basis. The practice does not work with any private or government insurers.

Opening the practice was a risky move that called for a sizable upfront investment and convincing potentially skeptical patients to try a nontraditional approach to managing and paying for their healthcare. More than a year later, Jung has yet to see a profit but remains convinced that he made the right move.


"I've never enjoyed practicing medicine or developing relationships with patients more than I do now," he says. "I feel like I am getting back to the heart of medicine with direct patient-to-physician interaction in terms of both healthcare and reimbursement."


HOW IT WORKS


Jung is a firm believer in price transparency, a concept that fits well with direct billing under the membership model. His website prominently displays the costs of various categories of membership as well as à la carte prices for office visits and lab services and a link to the complete price menu.


"I remember a patient in my prior practice asking me how much her visit would cost," he says. "I realized that I had no idea and even my CEO did not know how much this person would have to pay for [her] visit. It got me interested in looking at other models."


Under The Doc Shoppe's membership plan, patients pay a one-time $50 registration fee and sign up for automated bank transfers to cover their monthly payments. As members, they have unlimited access to primary and preventive care as well as routine lab services. Jung gives out his cell phone number and offers same-day and next-day appointments as well as virtual visits.


To cover catastrophic events, Jung recommends that patients supplement their membership with a high-deductible, low-premium insurance plan. Ideally, that plan would be attached to a federal Health Savings Account (HSA), which allows consumers to save pre-tax dollars to pay for qualifying medical expenses. However, under current IRS rules, joining a DPC practice disqualifies a patient from having an HSA paired with a high-deductible health plan. That's because it defines DPC plans as health insurance and HSA holders are prohibited from having a second health plan.


That may change soon, according to the lobbying group Direct Primary Care Coalition, which reports that seven states have passed legislation making DPC distinct from insurance products and several members of Congress have requested that the IRS reconsider its definition. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange, for example, offers consumers in the Seattle area the option of joining a DPC medical home combined with a qualified health plan.


With or without an HSA, Jung makes the case that combining a high-deductible insurance plan with membership is more cost-effective for patients than traditional insurance. Instead of putting off doctor visits to avoid paying out-of-pocket until their deductibles are met, members tend to take care of problems as they arise, potentially preventing more serious health problems down the road.


In addition, patients may get higher quality care and more time with their clinicians than in a traditional practice, says Jung, because DPC eliminates the time and costs associated with working with third-party payers.


FINDING A MARKET NICHE


Jung's research on direct primary care yielded plenty of useful information about the basic membership model, but little on how it might work in a low-income community like Corbin. While most membership models he found were located in affluent or suburban areas, the median household income in Corbin was $31,746 in 2013, more than $10,000 below the state average, and more than $20,000 below the national average, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

"The only other models in indigent communities that we looked at were Federally Qualified Health Centers and they depended on entitlement funds and grants that I didn't have access to," he says. "To make this model work here we knew we would have to alter the model a bit and keep costs down even more."


Jung wanted to help some of the same low-income and uninsured patients he had cared for in his previous position at Grace Community Health Center. He decided to target a niche in the market made up of patients who earned too much to qualify for insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, but too little to afford private insurance premiums that covered most primary-care services.


"These patients are looking for a plan they can afford that would still cover their needs," he says. "It makes sense for them to combine a high-deductible plan with a membership with us."


FINANCIAL CHALLENGES


In order to make membership affordable for his target population, Jung keeps overhead costs down by renting a small office space and hiring only one other staff member — a highly qualified nurse practitioner. He also negotiates with lab facilities and other providers for volume discounts on services for his patients.


"We wanted to offer the lowest possible membership rate while including as many services as we can," he says. "For $50 per month they get unlimited access to our office as well as hundreds of lab tests at no additional cost because we've been able to negotiate wholesale prices down to the bare minimum."


In addition to labs, Jung has been able to lock down discount rates with providers of ancillary services, such as radiologists, for things like computerized tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging, and colonoscopies.


Recently when a patient needed a foot X-ray, for example, Jung called two local hospitals and a diagnostic outpatient center and was quoted rates ranging from $100 to $600, often not including the radiologist reading. Thinking he could do better, he called on an orthopedist colleague who had an X-ray technician on staff.


"He said he would do this patient's X-ray for $45 and the patient could bring the films back to me to read," says Jung. "The patient ended up saving 12 to 15 times the cost of an X-ray at the hospital, which paid for a whole year's membership."


Other cost-saving measures included working with a local bank, rather than big credit card companies, to handle automated transfers of membership fees from patient accounts to the practice. The bank's $10 monthly rate and 5 cent transaction fee are much lower than most credit card rates.


Still, costs continue to outstrip revenue, says Jung. He has enrolled just over 240 members so far, out of 450 patients in total. His goal is to reach 600 patients to 700 patients per provider in order get out of the red.


"I was told by more experienced physicians that this process would take two years and cost from $50,000 to $200,000," he says. "It looks like we will be on the high end of that and definitely hit the $200,000 mark."


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Four Ways to Handle Cyber Conflict and Negative Reviews

Four Ways to Handle Cyber Conflict and Negative Reviews | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The evolution of technology has dramatically enhanced our ability to connect with one another, a progression that has had both positive and negative effects. Positive, because we can communicate with almost anyone, anywhere, anytime. And negative, because we are increasingly expressing ourselves in a disrespectful manner.

Take doctor-rating websites, for example. A random online search revealed that the same physician was simultaneously evaluated as "kind doctor" in one comment and "quack in a cheap suit" in another. And he's not the only physician with vastly opposing patient comments on his profile; a public profile that he has little, if any, control over unless he "claims" it. How is that fair?


Digital discord has become a fact of life. People seem to develop a false sense of confidence when allowed to let their fingers do the talking. As a result, some are prone to write, post, and share a damaging degree of nasty comments online that they wouldn't dare say out loud when looking someone in the eye.


Such electronic remarks can be hurtful, to both your pride and your practice. Here are four ways to handle negative electronic interactions and potentially detrimental online reviews.


1. Ignore negative comments.

Though difficult to do, it may be best to simply not read what other people are writing about you. Once you get over the initial shock of being slammed by negativity you'll likely see that there's little to be gained by reading further. Though it's wise to keep apprised of what's being posted, that doesn't mean you need to be the one who's doing the reading. Consider assigning the task to a member of your staff, asking them to notify you if they think there's something you need to address personally.


2. Respond with respect.

If you choose to reply to someone's objectionable remarks, do so with patience and a courteous attitude. State your point of view factually, disagree with dignity, and avoid getting into a squabble. Internet trolls and online rabble-rousers pride themselves on their ability to prod people to the point where they respond with anger and emotion. Once you've hit the post or comment button, your words will live forever in cyber-land. If you can't stick to the topic without belittling the writer of the offensive remarks, step away from the computer and cool down until you're able to be more objective.


3. Draw the line.

When enough becomes enough, you need to bring the exchange to a halt. Posting a simple statement like, "This conversation is over. I will no longer read or respond to your remarks," is all you need to write to make your point clear. Then you must follow through on your commitment. Your online adversary might continue to taunt you or bring in reinforcements to pepper you with more malicious comments. Once you've drawn the line don't allow yourself to be lured back.


4. Hire a professional.

At some point it may become necessary to consult an online reputation management firm to help you undo the damage others have done to your status. These companies specialize in reversing poor rankings and removing damaging images and reports. But beware! Some online reputation management companies have been reported to have less than stellar business practices themselves.


No one is immune to digital disrespect. While potential patients will check you out on a variety of virtual platforms, including doctor rating websites, most will take note of the recommendations that appear on your own website and the other online and social media profiles you control. Think about asking patients to provide you with endorsements that you can share publically (while maintaining confidentiality, of course). Then add positive comments from colleagues and staff to round out your cyber profile.


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CMS: More Simplification Ahead in Stage 3

CMS: More Simplification Ahead in Stage 3 | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

CMS, HHS, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recently released the proposed rule for the third stage of the meaningful use incentive program.

At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference (HIMSS) in Chicago, attendees heard directly from CMS regarding what it feels are some of the most significant elements, and changes, included in the proposed rule.


Robert Anthony, deputy director of the quality measurement and health assessment group at CMS, stressed that the rule will include more simplification, making it easier for providers to move forward with the program.


So what exactly did Anthony mean by simplification?

Here are three areas of the proposed rule that he pointed to during his session, "CMS Meaningful Use Stage 3 Requirements," which he co-presented with Elisabeth Myers, the lead for policy and outreach for eHealth initiatives in the division of health information technology at CMS:


1. There will be a single stage for meaningful use after 2018. As proposed, Stage 3 will be the final meaningful use stage, and it will continue as the lone meaningful use regulation in coming years for both physicians previously in the program and new physicians.

We are getting away from a "step process," said Anthony, noting that part of the goal in creation of Stage 3 was to become "simpler" and to create something "sustainable" for the future.


"We heard loud and clear from a number of folks that the framework for meaningful use as we devised it in Stage 1 and Stage 2 had become something that was very complex," he said, adding that it was becoming "burdensome" and causing work flow issues for providers because of the amount of things that needed to be measured and reported. "We very much wanted to focus on simplifying that into something that was going to be more easily understandable as we move forward into the future ..."


2. There will be a single reporting period. The proposed rule specifies that the meaningful use reporting period would be a full year for both physicians and hospitals starting in 2017 and in future years. And, the rule proposes adjusting to the calendar year for hospitals and professionals so that everyone is better aligned, said Anthony.


3. There will be fewer objectives. Stage 3, as proposed, reduces the number of objectives to eight. One reason, Anthony said, is that CMS received feedback from providers that some of the objectives in previous stages were redundant or duplicative.


 Anthony acknowledged that many of the objectives have numerous measures associated with them, but he stressed that there is some "internal flexibility" built into them.


CMS heard a lot from providers about the "all-or-nothing concept" of meaningful use: If you miss just one thing then you've missed everything, he said. "What we've tried to do is, we've tried to ... move down to the sort of eight core measures but even within those measures we've tried to preserve a level of flexibility."


Overall, Anthony said, the goals in this third and final stage include stepping up the electronic exchange of information among providers and between patients and providers, ensuring patients have access to their health information, and continuing the push toward "big data" that is standardized and easily shared.


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Collaborate or Compete With Retail-Based Clinics?

Collaborate or Compete With Retail-Based Clinics? | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

We live in a culture of "now." We expect instant downloads and constant cellular connectivity. We are all so busy that it is difficult to wait and schedule services in advance. For many patients, this applies to medical care too.

Because most adults cannot get same-day appointments with their primary-care providers, this void has been readily filled by retail clinics and urgent care clinics. My area of northern Virginia is no exception, with seven retail clinics within 5 miles of my home (up from two clinics just a few years ago).


Retail clinics can be a good option for some patients, as most medical problems do not require an emergency room visit. And the majority of patients with minor problems have difficulty making daytime appointments that cause them to miss work or school. Very few medical practices are open before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Personally, I think that making medical care available when a patient needs it is a good idea. However, as a medical practice owner, I know that retail clinics are in direct competition for my patients. Every patient that is seen at a retail clinic is a patient that was not seen in my office, thus diminishing my bottom line. And, as a pediatrician, I am extremely concerned about the care of children since most providers in these settings are not trained primarily in pediatrics.


Perhaps, when all practices are fully electronic and the exchange of medical information is more seamless, a patient's full medical history will be available, at all times. In the meantime, there can be dangerous gaps in information should a patient not inform the urgent-care provider of a chronic condition or a medication he is taking. There is also cause for concern if the primary-care provider is not told of medicine prescribed by the retail clinic.


Our practice has responded to this need by increasing our hours of operation; with walk-in hours early on weekday mornings and same-day appointments on weekends. Both of these extended clinics are meant for urgent problems, not chronic conditions. Yes, it does cost our practice to staff these extended hours, but we have found that it is worthwhile financially, and more importantly, earns the loyalty of our patient population.


I would advise other practices to develop relationships with local retail clinics in order to establish good communication. This would greatly enhance sharing of medical records with the primary-care office. Unfortunately, our practice has been unsuccessful with gaining the trust of local retail clinics. Nevertheless, it is important to try improving the exchange of medical information between your office and retail clinics.

No matter your opinion on retail clinics, they are here to stay.


Increasing your patients' access to your medical office will help direct them back to your practice. Most importantly, improving communication between retail clinics and your office will improve overall patient medical care and continuity.


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Strategies to Market Your Practice for Success

Strategies to Market Your Practice for Success | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Any successful realtor knows how important it is to stage a home to attract the right buyer — the same principal applies to medical practices. There are tons of ways you can "stage" a practice to attract the right patients; some are legally required, some are practical, some are fun, and some are just plain smart-business. One of the key ways to stage your practice for success is your marketing program.


Many practices have interpreted their professional responsibility as an obligation to see and treat virtually any patient who can use the telephone and present his body in their office. But this can lead to a revolving door of acute patients, rather than long-term patients, and can leave you stressed and strap your practice marketing budget.


I am not suggesting that if you have the capacity to serve those seeking care, you deny them access. What I want you to do is to stage your practice for success by identify characteristics of those patients you especially enjoy serving, and make a specific marketing effort to attract and retain those patients.


Patients that you especially enjoy seeing are called "ideal patients." Every practice, and possibly even practitioner, will have a different set of qualifiers that create their ideal patient. There are a few qualities that universally belong on all ideal-patient profiles. All ideal patients are patients:


• You enjoy working with;


• That need your help;


• Who will happily pay what you are worth (privately, via insurance, or a combination); and


• That will get great results from the services you can or do offer.


Now taking a look at just that short list of criteria, can you imagine what it would be like to have a practice full of these types of patients? I challenge you to stage your practice for success by taking the steps to identify and market it to your ideal patient, rather than casting so large of a net that you are seeing patients you don't enjoy seeing, and who don't stick around your practice.

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Physicians Shouldn't Fall Prey to Unsustainable Stress

Physicians Shouldn't Fall Prey to Unsustainable Stress | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

New developments in science and technology all but guarantee that barring some catastrophe, you're likely going to live longer than you currently presume. Perhaps you'll reach 100. Medical breakthroughs already in the pipeline, that seem as if they are more akin to Star Trek than today, promise an astounding new age.

Coming developments

• Major victories in the onslaught of AIDS, including genetic therapies that offer a high cure rate.

• At least partial recovery from spinal cord injuries via the development of artificial nerves.

• The development of artificial body parts that function as well as or better than the original parts, and are visibly undetectable as synthetic.

The unforeseen

Even if you can't see it now, you might find yourself taking time off to travel the world. You might retire and then come out of retirement a few times. At 86 or 92, you might decide to run for political office. After all, there will be a large constituency of your contemporaries who will have no problem voting for a fellow octogenarian.

While stress can certainly shorten a life span, most people still realize something close to their estimated life span. What counts is the quality of your life on the way there. Suppose I told you that you would live to be 116, but it would be with the same amount of stress that you're experiencing currently. Would you do it? Would you want to? The quest of most rational people is to live a long, happy, healthy life with relative grace and ease.

Dead men do tell tales

I found the observations of Dr. William R. Maples, PhD, in describing suicide victims to be captivating. Maples, a forensic researcher, diagnosed how and when people died. In "Dead Men Do Tell Tales," he said, "Many of the skeletons that come into my laboratory belong to suicide victims who behaved like shy hermits in their final hours."

"Usually they are found in remote out-of-the-way places. People often go to some hidden place to kill themselves, whether from a desire to act alone and unhindered, or because they wish simply to disappear in solitude, spending their last moments in reflective silence."

Would these individuals have killed themselves if they had attained reflective silence throughout their days? Was their wish to die alone, merely an ill-advised "solution" to their stresses? How would their lives have unfolded if they knew effective ways to find solace and tranquility in the here and now, at work, at home, and in all places in between?

Be true to oneself

Physicians are experiencing greater levels of stress, and less control over their professional lives. Not only that, stress has become the malady of our generation, and it's desirable not to follow the crowd. Instead draw upon your experience, knowledge, and instinct to carve your own path; you will encounter less stress if you are less swayed by prevailing norms. Think and act based on your ever-developing internal guidance system.

Certainly you accept and rely upon input from the outside world; you can't help but do so. You also determine what is relevant to you and what is not, and ultimately, what is appropriate for you and what is not.

When you fully acknowledge the circumstances and events as your life unfolds, and when you fully acknowledge your ability to make appropriate choices, you feel a greater sense of control, every day, and throughout your life — which could well extend for many decades.

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Doctors and Their Online Reputation

Doctors and Their Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

When a doctor I know recently signed up for a Twitter account, his colleagues began teasing him. “Are you going to tweet what you eat?” one joked.

Their questions, though, soon turned serious. How often was he going to tweet? What would he do if patients asked for medical advice on Twitter? Did he make up a name or use his real one?

“Doesn’t it make you nervous to put yourself ‘out there’?” asked one doctor, a respected clinician and researcher who prided herself on her facility with technology … but only at home. “I refuse to look myself up on Google,” she said. “Quite honestly, I’m not sure what I’d do with what I might find.”

While most doctors have come to terms with the fact that their patients routinely go online for information about what ails them, they remain uneasy about a more recent trend: the Internet is quickly becoming the resource of choice for patients to connect with, learn more about and even rate their doctors. And while many have used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or online medical community sites like Sermo to engage with friends and colleagues, few have communicated with patients as, well,doctors. Most abstain for one simple reason: they aren’t sure how to be a doctor online.

Since starting his blog, KevinMD, nearly 10 years ago, Dr. Pho has become a rock star among the health care set, one of the few doctors recognizable by first name only. A primary care doctor, Dr. Pho presides over a social media empire that includes his blog, now a highly coveted publishing place for doctors and patients, a lively Facebook page and anonstop Twitter stream that has become must-follow fodder for the medical Digirati.

Now he and Susan Gay, a medical publisher, have written a book to help doctors do nearly the same. In“Establishing, Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices,” Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay offer highly organized key points, useful statistics and exuberant testimonials from doctors who have successfully leapt over the digital divide. There is plenty of practical advice, too, on topics ranging from what to post and when to engage, confer or rebuff, to how to decide what might be unethical or T.M.I. (Answer: “Can you say it aloud in a full hospital elevator?”)

The book is an excellent and helpful resource. But what elevates it beyond the category of valuable how-to manual is the passionate call to arms that resonates from all those well-enumerated directions and clearly labeled diagrams. Like it or not, the authors warn, the Internet has profoundly changed the patient-doctor relationship, and doctors must embrace its effects on patient care — or risk losing their own influence.

This is a social media manifesto for physicians.

Doctors need to be on social media because “that’s where the patients are going to be,” Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay state early on in the book. But it’s a wild world out there, they caution, where survival is based not on fitness but on presence. Invoking one of the most contentious health care topics on the Internet, childhood vaccines, they describe how the Internet has put the opinions of celebrities, politicians and “people who took their last science course in high school” on equal footing with experts who have devoted their careers to studying and researching the issue.

But doctors have lost their voice, and therefore their authority, because they have opted to ignore rather than embrace the Internet, the authors say. As a result, they are now saddled with the “much harder job” of dispelling myths and calming patients’ fears. It’s a situation that might have been prevented if doctors, like the celebrities, had stacked the YouTube, blog and Twitter decks, but with information that was confirmed by research and not coffee-klatch chatter.

Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay’s exhortations ramp up when it comes to the area that unnerves doctors most, online rankings. Again, presence trumps absence, and they urge readers to begin “claiming your identity” by Googling themselves. They offer the cautionary tale of a doctor who, only after Googling herself, discovers she has the same name as an eye doctor accused of willfully blinding patients. Armed with this information, the doctor begins using her nickname in person and online, thus differentiating herself from the delinquent doppelganger.

“The biggest risk of social media in health care,” they conclude, “is not using it at all.”

If there is a weakness in the book, it is its tendency to rely on platitudes of self-empowerment and slip into pedestrian prose. But thanks to the heady message in this manual cum manifesto, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be the only one to forgive Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay their literary lapses. Instead I will focus on their earnest appeal, made more compelling every time a patient asks if I or my colleagues blog, tweet or have a Facebook page. There will be all the other doctors who have chosen to care about their patients by working not only on the wards and in the clinics but also online.

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Physician Online Reputation Management Strategies

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

In today’s world, where information can be shared and exchanged freely and with virtually no filter, people are looking increasingly towards the internet for advice on a number of things, from what to wear, to which sports teams they should bet on and even to what doctors they should and shouldn’t be going to.


And while the fact that information like prices, plans, insurance policies and such are available online is certainly a good thing, as people can easily find adequate and convenient treatment for almost any condition, it also means doctors are subject to a lot of evaluations, which are often subjective and not necessarily backed by fact.

Most online reviews, whatever their subject is, tend to be quite short and to the point, and usually not very elaborate. In fact, most of the times, online reviewers on websites like Amazon and eBay stick to just ratings, not even adding a comment. The same kind of trend has been observed for those websites which rate doctors, with most comments proving to be either excessively positive or negative – either way, not particularly helpful.


In a scenario like this, any doctor may get a very bad rating, or a very vague unfavorable review just for taking too long to assist a patient, looking at someone’s girlfriend or any other reason, but since the comment is vague, or there is no comment at all, these ratings may cause huge damage on a medical professional’s career when such damage was unwarranted.


This means doctors need to be extra careful with their reputations these days. They need to not only tick all the right boxes’ both professionally and socially speaking, but they must also go beyond that and be a part of a whole which is as close as possible to perfect – offering the best rates, most competitive plans and accommodation conditions for in-patients.


Furthermore, they need to have a positive social media presence, and possibly even a completely squeaky clean’ life, so that patients can’t find anything which could be perceived negatively about them, and feel safe when leaving their lives in these physicians’ hands.


It may seem unfair to be held to such an unbelievably high standard, but this is the result of the modern social media culture, which was partially molded by celebrity. The only way to stay afloat is to play the game, taking stock of what is actually being said, taking advantage of the good and learning meaningful lessons from negative comments, if at all possible.


However, it all starts in the examination room, so even before you consider your online profile, it is a good idea for doctors to look at the way they behave in their professional setting, and how patients react. While negative comments can stem from just about anything, a number of them is fueled by the sense of being mistreated or disrespected, so taking a few more minutes to listen to patients properly and try to empathize can make all the difference.


And even if these professionals think their capabilities and career speak for themselves, they shouldn’t let them. Instead, they should be proactive, making sure all the information available about them is correct, and creating their own content, even replying to comments made about them in a positive and reassuring manner, so as to counteract any possible damage.


Above all, every doctor should remember that reputations aren’t set in stone. They take years to build and minutes to destroy.

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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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Are You Avoiding Social Media? Maybe You Shouldn't.

Are You Avoiding Social Media? Maybe You Shouldn't. | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

I'm not a big social media user. I don't tweet or Instagram or Snapchat — I'm only on Facebook so I can see what my kids are posting. I figure my coworkers hear enough from me while we're inside the office that they don't need to know every single thing I'm doing outside of it.

I meet a lot of physicians who feel the same way, who do everything they can to keep their professional and personal lives separate. But I recently read a study that made me think a bit differently.


According to CareerBuilder, 35 percent of employers are less likely to interview candidates they can't find online. And that's not just IT folks or sales employers. Nearly 50 percent of healthcare employers look at social media to screen candidates.


So what does this mean to physicians who are considering a new job? It's time to get online.


Start by googling yourself


Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to keep your life off the Internet, chances are good you're still there. Take a second and type your name into Google. You might see a link to your current employer, an old photo from an alumni publication, or the minutes associated with political causes you've donated to. And you will certainly see patient reviews — both good and bad — on websites like HealthGrades.com.


Now put yourself in an employer's shoes. What do these Google results say about you? Do they paint a complete picture of you as a physician? Do they highlight your skills? Your professional accomplishments? Your rapport with patients?


If not, you've got some work to do.


Find the right type of social network


Not all social media networks are created equal. Facebook is great for sharing pictures and stories with those you're close with. Twitter is good if you want to interact with strangers or weigh in on issues in real time. But if you're looking to create a professional profile, I recommend you start with LinkedIn.


LinkedIn is a great place to tell your story. Not only can it house your resume, but it also allows you the freedom to bring your CV to life. You can highlight professional accomplishments, share why you're passionate about medicine, or promote your research. It also allows you to reconnect with former colleagues or friends from medical school who could help you get the inside track on a new position.


Once your profile is complete, potential employers can easily find you online and get a quick snapshot of both your professional experience and who you are as a person. And most importantly — as opposed to online review sites — you control the message.


LinkedIn is not the only option. ZocDoc and Vitals also allow physicians to create a custom profile with photos, credentials, and accomplishments. Because these sites are targeted at consumers, they also include patient ratings.


Be careful of what you share


If you're looking for a new job, or just want to have an impact on what people see when they Google your name, having a social media presence may be a good idea. But once you're online, make sure to think before you post. HIPAA regulations apply on social media, too, so never reveal names of patients you're treating or post photos of things that could identify them; e.g., charts, notes, or X-rays.


It's also smart to keep things positive. A lot of people use social media to vent about their job, boss, or coworkers. Even if these messages never get back to the involved parties, they can be a real turnoff to potential employers.


When in doubt, keep it simple. Maintaining a succinct professional profile on one or two social networks will allow employers to easily find you online and help you present your best self to your next boss.

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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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Six Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction Scores

Six Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction Scores | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Large physician practices and hospitals already have a portion of their payments linked to patient satisfaction. Over the next few years, it will be an integral portion of physician payment, including penalties possibly dwarfing those under meaningful use. More about this program, known as the Clinician & Group Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) can be found on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's website.

Here's the government's hypothesis in a nutshell:


• Patients who like their doctors are more likely to be compliant patients;

• Compliant patients are healthier patients;

• Healthier patients are less expensive; so

• Physicians with satisfied patients should be paid more than physicians with dissatisfied patients.

The Affordable Care Act introduced a different set of quality metrics than used by the Institute of Medicine (IOM): quality, patient satisfaction, and payment. Quality is a key element with both programs, but there's an important difference with the reform law: your patients are the arbiters of quality. Quality more or less equals patient satisfaction.


What's being measured?


CG-CAHPS measures the patient experience, an expansive proxy for quality that takes into account the following:

• Timely appointments

• Timely care (refills, callbacks, etc.)

• Your communication skills

• What your patient thinks about you

• What your patient thinks about your staff

• Your office running on schedule

I have been in enough medical practices — both as a patient and as an administrator — to know there's a method to this madness. It's less about the care and more about the caring. Here's what I suggest for improving your quality measures via these proxies.


1. Hire sunshine.


I can train anyone* to do anything in our office, but I can't train sunshine.  Look to hire positive and happy people, particularly for roles with lots of patient interaction. Your patient satisfaction — and thus, your "quality" — will improve. You'll also find a cost-saving benefit to this hiring tactic: employee turnover will shrink.


2. Start on time.


CG-CAHPS asks patients whether they were seen within 15 minutes of their appointment times; it's even underlined for emphasis. Physicians who start on time are more likely to run on time, so have your feet set before you start running.


3. Set patient expectations.


It's helpful to share with patients the FAQs about your practice so that they know what to do for refills, after-hour needs, appointment scheduling, etc. By making these answers available on your website, on your patient portal, and in your print materials, you'll better align patient expectations with patient experiences and thereby score better on quality surveys.


Some patients gauge quality by whether or not they get the antibiotic they think they need. It's helpful for primary-care physicians to include education on antibiotic overuse in their patient education materials.

Along these lines, it is important for your patient to know what to expect after their visit in terms of test results, follow-up visits, etc. I receive more complaints about the back end of our patients' experiences than anything else. Make sure you and your staff do not drop the ball as you near the goal line.


4. Listen with your eyes.


Nothing says "I don't care" like having your physician focus on a computer screen rather than on the patient. This is particularly true in the first couple of minutes of each visit, and especially important with new patients. One virtue of using medical scribes is that you can listen with your eyes a whole lot more.


5. Put your staff in their place.


Your staff has an important bearing on the patient experience. I'm a big fan of letting them know their actions influence quality. It's pretty cool, for me as a mere bureaucrat, to know that I can improve quality simply by being friendly and helpful to our patients. Make sure your staff knows that making a patient's day is a beautiful act.


6. Monkey see, monkey do.


Staff will follow your lead. If your thoughts and actions emphasize running on schedule, being kind to patients and their families, and not dropping balls, they'll be stronger teammates for you.


Patient satisfaction has always been a gauge of quality, just as patient referrals remain the lifeblood of most practices. Treat this next wave as an opportunity to show off the caring that has always been a big part of the medical care you offer your patients.

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Succeeding as a Physician Entrepreneur

Succeeding as a Physician Entrepreneur | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

As a healthcare executive, physicians have pitched me on hundreds of ideas, inventions, products, services, and schemes over the years because I am one of the lucky ones to have succeeded and failed enough times to not only know what to do, but far more importantly, what not to do.

I am going to share the essence of what I have learned over the past 40 years in business; not to dissuade you from following your dreams, but, to give you a chance if you are so inclined.


Many of the ideas I have looked at have been quite good. The majority, very clever. And, I have passed on virtually all of them where they required partnering with a physician or lawyer, and for very good reason — see one, do one, teach one is perfectly aligned with science, medicine, law, and business management where cause and effect is primarily determined by finite rules and variables. Entrepreneurial business, however, is as close to business management as surgery is to psychology.


To have any chance at all of success, every entrepreneur must be a skilled business manager or have one, and, even then, virtually all entrepreneurial companies fail within five years and only one in 10,000 is a success.


That's because it is not the innovation, invention, product, or service one brings to market that attracts investment or leads to success. It is, with rare exception, vision, experience, and leadership.

Successful entrepreneurs focus on how they will succeed, not on how the product or service will make them successful, and, they have a science of their own. But, it is messy, subjective and requires creativity, experience and adaptation at almost every turn. Here are four of the formulas that I use to assess the potential of an entrepreneurial opportunity:


• Risk = Probability + Consequences

• Value = Need Fulfillment + Quality - Cost – Effort

• Results = Capability + Application

• Opportunity = Value + Results – Risk


The baseline metrics for these formulas are subjective, but can be estimated by determining what your customers, stakeholders, and investors are looking for. If the formulas show opportunity, then each of the following needs to be compelling, convincing, and realistic:


• Solid entrepreneurial experience, expertise, and a proven track record of success;

• Realistic and fully developed financial projections supported by a credible business plan;

• Convincing market and industry analysis;

• Convincing business plan showing understanding of and differentiation from competition;

• A definitive plan and strategy to deal with competition;

• A solid plan and strategy for intellectual property protection and regulatory compliance; and,

• Most importantly, opportunistic leadership in full control of the process with the desire, experience, tenacity, and commitment to adapt because reality, market changes, and market challenges will shift priorities, needs, focus, plans, strategies, competitive advantages, and disadvantages.


Risk is directly tied to reward. The ability to manage opportunity is directly tied to business success.


Otherwise, it's just gambling, and, the house odds are exceedingly unfavorable to their customers.


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Responding to Negative Online Patient Reviews: 7 Tips

Responding to Negative Online Patient Reviews: 7 Tips | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

When you read a negative review of your medical skills or professional practice, your first instinct may be to fire back a response. You want to explain that the patient misstated the facts, she misinterpreted your explanation of a diagnosis, or exaggerated how your staff treated her.

Some physician review websites allow you to respond to an online review. For example, on RateMDs, you may reply to any of your reviews. However, on other sites, the response is not as prominently displayed as the initial review or may require the user to click on a separate button to view the responses.

As a general matter, I advise clients to respond online to negative reviews. Responding online shows prospective patients that you acknowledge criticism of your practice and that you are proactive in improving your patient's experience in your practice. Plus, if the negative review is completely at odds with other positive reviews, you may be able to explain why this patient had such a negative experience.

Here are seven tips for responding online to negative reviews:

1. Follow HIPAA. The medical profession is uniquely hampered in its ability to respond to online reviews because of patient privacy laws. You simply cannot disclose any protected health information in your response, because the patient has not given you consent to do so. The fact that the patient may have disclosed private information in his initial review does not give you permission to do the same in response. Given the seriousness of this concern, it is always better to err on the side of saying too little than too much. The fines associated with HIPAA or state privacy law violations may deter you from responding at all.

2. Be careful responding to anonymous reviews. The anonymity of some online reviews can make it difficult — or impossible — to respond. The review websites will not disclose the reviewer's true identity to you. If you do not know with absolute certainty who posted the negative review, then do not respond with any remarks specific to that patient. You do not want to risk responding to the wrong patient.

3. Keep the response short and polite. There's no reason to post a lengthy response. It will only look defensive to other patients. One way to promote a polite review is to avoid responding in anger. If you read a negative review, go ahead and draft your "dream" response. Then wait one day or two days, then re-read your draft response before posting it. It is also a good idea to enlist a trusted friend or family member to review your response and provide feedback about how the review sounds to a disinterested observer.

4. Show a commitment to improvement. Although review websites frustrate doctors to no end, keep in mind that they are one of the few methods by which you can get honest feedback. Your response to negative reviews will be most effective if they demonstrate that you want to improve your practice in response to fair criticism.

5. Invite the patient to contact you off-line. In your response, you can invite the patient to call you to discuss the problem and devise a solution together. It may not work with this particular patient, but it demonstrates to anyone who reads the negative review that you are willing to formulate a reasonable solution to patient concerns.

6. Do not defame anyone in your response. I once represented a client in the construction industry who had been defamed on Yelp. He had completed several small construction projects at a former schoolmate's home but she refused to pay him anything. Then she posted negative reviews on Yelp, accusing him of stealing jewelry and trespassing on her property. He responded to her review online and stated "If theft was made, it was her stealing money and services from me," among other explanations of what had happened. Although at trial we prevailed on our defamation claims against the customer, my client was also found to have defamed his customer in his online response. If you do choose to post a reply, keep this risk in mind.

7. Avoid apologies in some situations. There are times when a simple apology works well. For example, if the patient complains that your office always runs 15 minutes behind schedule, you could apologize and explain that because you try not to rush patients during examinations, sometimes patients have short wait times. However, there are times when you have to avoid an apology. For example, if the review accuses you of malpractice or other wrongdoing, an apology may not be the right approach given the possible legal liabilities at play.


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Making Digital Connections with Patients between Visits

Making Digital Connections with Patients between Visits | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The traditional care model, through which primary-care physicians check in with patients in the office during regularly scheduled visits, is "not going to work anymore."

That's according to Danny Sands, chief medical officer at Conversa Health, Inc., who co-presented a session with Philip Marshall, MD, chief product officer at the health IT company, during the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference in Chicago.


During their session, "Staying Connected with Patient-Generated Health Data," Sands and Marshall said it's time for physicians to "bridge the gap" with patients between visits. 


Sands said the shift toward value-based payment, the need to reduce healthcare spending, the growing elderly population, and a looming physician shortage are all factors driving the push for more interaction and health information feedback from remote patients. "We have got to figure out how to scale our healthcare system," he said.  


Another factor driving the push, he said, is the increasing number of patients with multiple chronic conditions. "If we are dealing with an epidemic of chronic conditions ... we need a new model for healthcare," said Sands. "What we are doing is not working. It's expensive, we are not getting the quality we want; we are not getting the engagement we want."


So how can physicians better engage with, and receive more health information from, remote patients?


Sands said it's time to "space out" visits a bit more, improve health literacy, and have frequent "light touches" with relevant patient populations between visits to monitor progress, blood pressure, pain, medication adherence, and so on.


Frequent check-ins  


When attempting to acquire patient-generated health data (PGHD) from remote patients, Sands said it is critical to consider work flow. The information received from patients should be automated, simple for patients to provide, and it should not overwhelm the physician. Too much information is not a good idea, he said, but if you can help create information from the data then that is going to be useful.


While remote health monitoring devices such as those that track patients' steps or calorie intake are popular among patients, they don't necessarily provide the type of information that physicians need to receive from patients on a daily basis, said Marshall. During their presentation, Sands and Marshall pointed to a pilot PGHD study that Conversa partnered with in which an adult primary-care practice explored how it could receive health information from 1,300 chronic disease patients.  The patient population they decided to start engaging with more outside the office, was a


They practice started by analyzing the EHR data of that patient population, and pulling it through the system so that they could profile each patient and target a "set of rules" on what to ask them when checking in with them remotely, and how often they should reach out to these patients.


They then arranged for the patients to receive a digital alert indicating it was time to answer the questions related to their condition and/or share biometric data through "digital check-ups." Once patients completed the questions, the data then went straight back into the EHR.


"Seamlessly integrating into the EHR was absolutely a kind of critical requirement for us, the practice would not have had it any way and frankly we wouldn't have either," said Marshall.


The practice then used the data to determine if a clinical intervention was necessary, and if they should be checking in with patients more or less often.


The results:


• About 73 percent of the patients in the pilot completed one or more digital check up, and 81 percent stayed engaged after the first check up.

• Twenty-nine percent of the patients had a clinical intervention during the pilot in order to get them back on track, said Marshall, adding that many of these issues had to do with medication adherence and most of them could be fixed by a quick call.

• Seventy-two percent of the patients stayed on track or improved during the pilot.

".. As we push for value-based care and increased provider capacity, we have to more efficiently manage this gap and bridge patients and providers," said Marshall. "It is possible to automate this process, by knowing the patient, knowing their profile, knowing which rules will be triggered in what situations."


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How to Engage and Acquire Patients via Social Media

How to Engage and Acquire Patients via Social Media | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Building up your medical practice's social media network, and even acquiring new patients through that network, may be easier than you think.

At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Chicago, presenter Melody Smith Jones, manager of connected health at Perficient, Inc ., an IT consulting firm, told attendees that health systems hoping to find success through social media should find out where their prospective audience is online, whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn, or another platform, and become part of the conversation taking place there. You have to meet th em where they are, she said.


Since patients are already on social media, and already searching the Internet for health information, social media provides a great opportunity for health systems to step in and provide it, said Jones.

Jones, whose session was entitled "Converting Unknown Consumers into Patients," said a good place to start is by identifying the "centers of excellence" for the major health initiatives that you are trying to tackle at your organization. Pick three to five of those things, she said, and then start engaging with a social media community that is already discussing those things online.


For instance, if one of your key initiatives is to improve care for diabetic patients, find a diabetic patient community online, and then start sharing relevant information, such as small steps patients can take to improve their health, a blog post related to an item members of the community are discussing, and other relevant information that the community might like to learn more about.

Jones said one of her clients had great success by sharing a short quiz to on the risk for heart disease to a social media community interested in that topic. When members of the community took the assessment, they received personalized recommendations related to their results. 

Ultimately, if practices build up an engaged community and establish credibility and bond with that community, it could lead to patient conversions for the practice. Some conversion tools health systems might consider using include inviting members of the social media community to schedule a health-related class at the health system, or sharing information with members that helps them learn more about a provider.


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