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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Reputation Management Mistakes Doctors Should Avoid 

Reputation Management Mistakes Doctors Should Avoid  | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Reputation management is the necessity of time for your practice to flourish. Review sites and numerous people who browse the Internet for all solutions have made reputation a big deal for a practice to exist. Online reputation management of your practice now has a direct link with the number of potential patients visiting your practice and increase in revenue.

Not claiming practice

You can lose numerous potential patients if you have unclaimed profiles or listings. Searchers find you online with the hope of genuine information, so take care of duplicate Google My Business (GMB) listing and remember to claim your practice. Also, get your practice citation done on relevant websites for establishing a strong reputation in your locality.

Not asking for reviews

Every day you meet so many patients and provide treatment to cure their ailment. So, you need to request your happy patients, who thank you before leaving your practice, for a positive review online. This creates a better understanding of patients’ expectation and builds a stronger doctor-patient relationship. Writing reviews or feedback allows the patient to even share their concerns with physicians. You can even mail your patients for positive comments and post them on your practice website as testimonials. The more reviews you have for your practice on the web, the better will be Google’s ranking.

Posting fake reviews

Remember, not to post fake reviews. Just to get high ranking and a strong online reputation you cannot post false reviews. Requesting friends, family to write for your practice, bribing employees or patients and posting fake reviews can land your practice in trouble. Any such review spam once deducted by Google can hit your ranking and online reputation badly. You should regularly check the review sites to save yourself from such review spam. Different review platforms have a different process of claiming them.

Not thanking for Positive reviews

It is essential for your practice reputation to thank patients who take out time to post positive feedback about your practice without bothering for any personal gains. On receiving a thank message will make the reviewers delighted and cared. This will assure them of your services and the increased trust will help you get word-of-mouth marketing for your practice. When replying, stay simple and short. You can also ask them to use any of your new services but never get swayed in emotion and disclose private health information of your patients.

Ignoring negative reviews

Another mistake is ignoring or deleting negative reviews. Receiving such a comment is very normal because to err is human. Removing a negative comment is a big mistake that can spoil your online reputation. Instead of taking it personally, you first need to check if it is not a review spam. Secondly, check the reviewers’ concern. Thirdly, thank the reviewer for posting feedback and assure for improvement. These steps can turn a negative reviewer into a positive one. Communication is a bridge of solution for most problems, so don’t lose this opportunity of increasing your patient base and delighting every patient.

No personalization

Another factor affecting your online reputation is not personalizing your marketing and services. You need to engage with patients on a personal level to make them comfortable. In addition to relying on reviews, you should send personalized emails. An automated response can demotivate people. Respect your patients and send them messages that improve your brand image.

Not monitoring activities

In addition to the above-mentioned practices, you need to monitor the outcome to maintain a strong online image of your practice. This online image helps you attract potential patients and increase the revenue from your practice. If you cannot find the time or manage your online reputation, take help from agencies such as myPracticeReputation. Tying up with an inexperienced and inefficient agency can degrade your reputation. Agency should be dedicated and well-versed in healthcare marketing.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Five Online Reputation Management Strategies for Physicians 

Five Online Reputation Management Strategies for Physicians  | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Just how important is a physician's online reputation?

 

Many healthcare executives are opening their eyes to the new ways prospective patients are searching for physicians. Almost half of consumers surveyed in 2014 believe reputation is the leading factor when selecting a doctor or a dentist. It is likely those numbers will continue to rise.

 

As more and more information about physicians becomes available online and big digital health companies compete to list doctors, consumers will gravitate to the most information-rich channel. So how can a busy doctor navigate the waters of online reputation, while focusing on providing top quality care to patients?

 

Here are five online reputation management strategies that are yielding results for successful physicians.

 

Embrace online ratings and reviews

While many physicians aren't fans of online reviews, these websites are here to stay. That's because more and more consumers are heading to ratings sites to compare healthcare providers and post reviews about their experiences.

 

A 2014 survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that of consumers who parsed through online reviews, 35 percent of respondents would select a physician based on positive reviews, while 37 percent avoided doctors with negative reviews.

 

Consumers use both healthcare-specific ratings sites — think Healthgrades and RateMD's —and general consumer sites like Yelp and CitySearch. The best way to catch a consumer’s eye online is to have a large volume of positive reviews across multiple ratings sites.

So how do you get more reviews?

 

Ask patients to rate you

Now that you've seen the power of ratings sites in affecting online reputation, how can you get more reviews? Just ask.

 

If you're not sure how to ask patients to rate you, here are a few suggestions:

• Hand a card to the patient with the urls listed for key consumer ratings sites and ask them to rate you

• Add a clickable link for key sites to your email signature and website.

• Send patients a snail mail letter with urls of popular ratings sites.

• Keep a tablet at the front desk and ask patients to post a review before leaving your office.

• Send an email request using your auto-responder.

• Create a short video with step-by-step instructions.

Try out multiple strategies to gauge those that work best for your practice, and then focus on the most important thing. Consistency. That means finding a way to ask every patient to rate you online.

You want to see new reviews every week if possible, building up your total volume, and diluting the strength of negative comments.

 

Take full advantage of online profiles

Another way to beef up your reputation is by completing online profiles on sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, and RateMDs. As many patients search for physicians by name, you'll want a mix of different types of search results, including content you provide.

One site many physicians are using is called Doximity, sometimes billed as the LinkedIn for doctors. This is a physician to physician site that can be useful in building relationships with referring doctors.  Consumer sites, such as Vitals, allow you to claim your professional profile and add information about education, specialties, and expertise.

 

Don't ignore angry patients

The first rule is treat every patient well. However, sometimes service may not be up to the patient’s standard. Or a patient or family member is simply unhappy with some aspect of treatment. Like any business, you won't please everyone.

But consider how you'll respond when a patient posts a negative or angry review.

 

You don't want to discuss any aspect of a patient's case in online statements, leading to potential HIPAA violations. This means you can't answer someone posting anonymously, but depending on the severity of the negative comment, you may or may not want to respond directly.

 

Some online review sites — RateMD's is one — allow you to respond to a negative review. Crafting a response acknowledging a problem can show prospective patients that you are serious about providing a positive experience.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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A Healthy Approach to Social Media

A Healthy Approach to Social Media | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

In today’s fast-paced society, everyone and their mother is on some sort of social media—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, just to name a few. Social media has changed not only the way we communicate, but also the way that we get our information. More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way that they deal with their health: What’s the latest workout? What’s the best diet? Who’s doing CrossFit? With so many new fitness crazes popping up, most people can be found with at least one health-related app.

Popular health and fitness websites such as WebMD and MyFitnessPal have generated their own online forums for users to share messages and information. (I, too, am guilty of looking up a symptom or two on WebMD.) 

What’s the draw? Why do people choose to use social media as their go-to for medical questions and answers? Instant gratification. Nowadays we’ve become so conditioned to receiving answers in seconds that waiting a day for test results seems unreasonable. It’s so much easier to punch in your symptoms on Google rather than making an appointment at the doctor.

But it doesn’t need to be an either/or decision. Healthcare providers can use social media to their—and their patients’—advantage. Overworked nurses and pediatricians could save valuable hours teaching kids how to properly fit a bike helmet by uploading a single YouTube video. A doctor could discuss a complicated procedure with a nervous patient, provide more information, and greater peace of mind, by referring them to a video or an article—or better yet, having that video or article on hand in their office.

I’m not saying that every health facility should run out and create an app. However, every facility should, in fact, have a strong social media focus no matter their size. With all of the health-related discussions constantly filling newsfeeds, providing the right content where people are spending a majority of their time is part of modern medicine.

Social media is important for healthcare providers to stay in communication with past, present and future patients. Like it, tweet it, pin it. Get the real facts out there. The world is online and moving forward. The fact of the matter is: If you aren’t on social media, then you’re far behind the learning curve.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details :
inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Three Things Physicians Should Know about Social Media

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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Stop the Conflict in Your Medical Practice

Stop the Conflict in Your Medical Practice | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Squabbling among staff members is common in medical practices. It is more than just an aggravation for the physician. Patients are aware of the ill will and hate it. The squabbling leads some patients to trust certain staff members and insist on dealing with only them, which both decreases productivity and increases staff animosity. Dissension increases risk for the practice because staff members are not wholeheartedly supporting each other. It is a bad situation all around.

Stopping the fighting is simple. It requires only focus and consistent behavior from whoever is in charge. (I didn't say it was easy.) The necessary behaviors of the leader are these:


1. Ask about the desired outcome.


When an employee complains to you about a coworker, ask, "What do you want me to do with that information?" This will let you know the complainer's motive. If the objective is legitimate and for the good of the practice, she will be able to tell you exactly what she'd like to see done. If not, stop the conversation because it cannot lead to anything good.


2. Bring both parties together.


Don't allow one employee to complain about another employee without including both of them in a conversation. If you allow an employee to complain to you privately without facing the object of the complaint, you make all employees suspicious that you participate in gossip and have favorites among your staff. Effective leadership is impossible in that environment.


3. Make sure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.


Lots of dissension results from staff members interfering with one another's work. Maybe they have different standards for a particular task. Make it clear what your standard is, as well as the fact that you are the one who sets the standard.


4. Hold people accountable.


A major source of discord in any environment is subpar performance. Staff members who are allowed to complete work half-heartedly can cause ill will. Hardworking, conscientious staff members have to pick up the slack for these folks. If the good employees don't quit, they will grumble and complain as a way to deal with their frustration.


5. Praise in public, criticize in private.


The behavior you reward is reinforced. If staff members come to you with a disagreement or problem and are able to resolve it effectively, praise them. The rest of the office will get the message.


If a staff member is sniping or two of them are squabbling, publicly make an appointment to meet with them privately. Criticize the behavior and move quickly to developing a resolution. It will be a teachable moment for the rest of the staff, too, because you will have demonstrated that arguing will not be tolerated


6. Terminate any employee who insists on contributing to dissension.


It is actually rare, but there are people who are not willing or able to maintain a positive and supportive attitude. If you are certain that you have been faithful in creating a constructive environment by consistently exhibiting the first five behaviors, get rid of them. One bad apple really can ruin the whole barrel. Just be sure you know which employee is actually the rotten apple.


The bottom line is that no one but the actual leader can create and sustain a positive environment. In a medical practice, that has to be the physician. It is one of the few roles that the physician cannot delegate.

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Online Reputation Management: Doctors and Dentists Guide to Fixing Bad Reviews

Online Reputation Management: Doctors and Dentists Guide to Fixing Bad Reviews | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The number of reviews for health care providers online is growing exponentially and at an accelerating pace. Betting against this trend is foolish, yet managing your reputation online can be a time-consuming task. And once effective cease & desist letters to remove misleading or false reviews can receive large amounts of negative publicity from online newspapers and avid defenders of CDA 230 of the Communications Decency Act – which holds harmless those companies hosting such
user generated content.


If you search Google for your name you will see the following:

  • Your own website (hopefully).
  • Various review sites such as Insider Pages, Dr. Oogle, Yelp and others.
  • Search directories happily capturing traffic on searches for your name.


Review sites and search directories are trying to sell advertisements based upon people searching for objective reviews on your practice and others offering the same service. That means your current patients looking up your phone number or address in Google are blasted with ads for potentially negative reviews and ads from competing practices in your immediate neighborhood (Google is getting very good at Geo-Targeting down to the zip code).


A more alarming situation is if a review site has one or more bad reviews visible associated with your practice.


Many private practitioners are under the assumption that the web traffic they get is from searches for keywords such as “Dentist San Francisco, Ca” (Broad Keywords) by examination you will you’re your name (Brand Keywords) being actively and regularly searched by your current patients base and potential patients.


If you have patients, chances they ARE or will be talking about you on the Web.


You cannot really 100% stop bad reviews on review sites but you can execute a strategy to defend yourself and voice your own perspectives as balance, hopefully a dominant perspective that is the primary “voice” of your name & brand online. The irony is that private practices have been toiling for years (some decades) to care for their patients, having collected numerous Thank You letters and cards.

So, What Can You Do?

Ideally, this is handled by having hundreds of pages that you control that Google can find under a search for your name.


Do this by creating a Blog. Blogs are cheap to build and easy to maintain. Search Engines also love the dynamic nature of a Blog – when’s the last time you added new content to your website as is required now of competitive keyword markets on Google? Chances are, a low-cost Blog will eventually out-rank your static website (and many others) over time. Best of all, you’ll show your community and your patients (as well as future patients) that you care enough to have a voice online and adopt new technologies.


A blog offers a great avenue to pass on details about your practice such as new equipment you spent so much to get or new skills you or your staff have attained.


Transcribe your patients’ testimonials online and on your Blog. And add functionality on your Blog where your patients – if they have a gripe – can come to you first. Because if they have no alternative but to go onto another site – that negative review (even if the patient was having a very bad day) can be permanent!


Every page on a blog can be set up to be visible to the various searches on your name to where it can in time produce hundreds of potential pages that can be found under a search for your name.

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5 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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Managing online reputation for dentists

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

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


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


Types of ratings websites


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


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


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


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


How are ratings determined?


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


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


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

Proactive online reputation management


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


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


Challenges of anonymous ratings


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


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

Hire online reputation management experts


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


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

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

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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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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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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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Online Patient Engagement Requires Practice Buy-In

Online Patient Engagement Requires Practice Buy-In | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Patients are taking a greater role in their healthcare than ever before, and a growing array of electronic tools are available to help physicians engage them, according to Shannon Vogel, director of health information technology at the Texas Medical Association during the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2015 annual conference.

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. adults use the Internet and nearly three-quarters of them have used the Internet to search for health information, according to 2012 data collected by Pew Research Center. Additionally, 58 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone and more than half of smartphone owners have used their device to access health information. Vogel summarized the growing tool chest of electronic patient engagement options for practices, including patient portals, personal health records, Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), direct protocol e-mails, and health applications, and their respective advantages.

Vogel explained that the use of all health information technology in practice is still in its infancy, but patient demand and CMS meaningful use incentives are driving rapid growth in the use of these technologies. A survey by the Texas Medical Association found that between 2005 and 2014, the use of EHRs in Texas grew from 25 percent to 69 percent of practices.

Patients often want e-mail reminders, online scheduling, the ability to e-mail their physician, and online access to test results and their records. The most common way practices are working to meet these demands is by creating patient portals, Vogel said.

Patient portals are often part of the practice's electronic medical record, Vogel explained. All portals offer secure messaging between the practice and patient and a summary of the patient's clinical information. They may also include appointment scheduling, bill paying, or customized options.

Portals can help to reduce a practice's administrative costs and streamline workflows. They can also help practices meet meaningful use requirements, such as patient access to their medical records, patient reminders, and secure messaging, Vogel said.

"It's a great way to bring value back to the practice," said Vogel.Shannon VogelShannon Vogel

But one downside of portals is that patients with multiple physicians may wind up with multiple portals. One option that has emerged to help patients keep all their health information in one place is the patient health record (PHR). Patients can upload medical records from their physicians into their PHR and they can also enter information about supplements, data from health apps, and other information into the record. Patients can share access to this record with their physician. But Vogel said use of PHRs so far has been low. She explained that they may not help physicians meet meaningful use requirements, though CMS is looking into ways to help with this drawback.

Some practices are offering secure e-mail messaging only, Vogel said. And in some states, HIEs are beginning to offer some electronic engagement functionality. Additionally, practices may make use of the growing array of health apps that patients can use to track their health data. She noted that physicians might use these tools to ask patients to call or schedule an appointment if the patient's readings are outside of certain parameters.

No matter what electronic tools practices chose, Vogel emphasized that it is important for the physician and practice staff to become very familiar with the tool and familiarize themselves with the patient interface. She also noted that while some patients are eager to reach out online, others may not be comfortable with this or may lack access.

"Many patients are interested, but not all have the desire, time, and access to the tools," she said. "We need to meet them where they are."


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Online Reputation Management for Healthcare Practices & Physicians 

Online Reputation Management for Healthcare Practices & Physicians  | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

What’s more valuable for choosing a new restaurant, gym, or smartphone: an online review or the suggestion that your friend makes? Nearly three out of four consumers (72%) say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to a SearchEngineLand.com survey posted on MedNet.com.

 

In the last year alone, 68 percent more patients turned to online reviews to gather information about potential healthcare providers. And nearly half of all patients (44%) may be willing to seek out-of-network doctors with favorable online reviews, according to a survey featured on FiercePracticeManagement.com. Does your online reputation have new patients lining up to schedule an appointment or is it scaring folks away?

 

Online Healthcare Reputation Management Basics

Online reputation management can be tricky. On the one hand, candid reviews are important for protecting prospective patients from an unethical physician or poorly managed practice; however, these practice and physician-related problems are pretty rare. Most of the criticism that’s leveled at doctors in online reviews—a long wait before an appointment, the high cost of a treatment—are systemic issues that a single physician or practice cannot single-handedly fix.

Additionally, doctor-patient confidentiality prevents physicians from directly engaging online critics. While you can’t wage all out war with an online critic, the good news is that you don’t need to. And many factors outside a physician’s immediate control, like wait times, actually rank as one of the least important factors for patient reviews, according to a survey featured on FiercePracticeManagement.com.

A survey of 4,000 patients using reviews found that the following review elements are most important when deciding whether or not to schedule an appointment at a physician’s practice:

  • Quality of care (48 percent)
  • Rating (45 percent)
  • Patient experience (40 percent)
  • Accurate diagnoses (34 percent)
  • Wait times (25 percent)
  • Doctor’s listening skills (22 percent)

 

In general, most physicians are rated positively and higher rankings for hospitals and medical practices are associated with better medical care, according to an analysis of online reviews conducted by the American College of Surgeons. Unfortunately, since physician review websites (PRWs) do not verify the authenticity of a patient’s review, there’s a high possibility for abuse, misinformation, and outdated information.

While you cannot directly control the quality or quantity of your practice’s reviews, these reviews play an increasingly important role in generating referral traffic to your website and appointments for your practice.

 

The following steps are a good start for online reputation management:

  • Keep tabs on your profile. You can’t improve what you don’t know! Popular PRWs include Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com and RateMDs.com. Increasingly, websites like ZocDoc.com also offers patient reviews in conjunction with the ability to book appointments with participating physicians.
  • Set up an online profile. Many PRWs allow physicians to display professional profiles; use the information in your profile to control your reputation and protect against potential criticism. For example, you could highlight your willingness to accept same-day appointments or your expertise in a highly specialized practice field.
  • Request feedback from patients. In general, you can expect positive feedback from long-time patients. Post a sign in your waiting area saying that you value feedback and send an appointment-follow-up email, inviting patients to take a short online survey. Quote positive reviews and link to addition positive content on your practice’s site.
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24 Outstanding Statistics on How Social Media has Impacted Health Care

24 Outstanding Statistics on How Social Media has Impacted Health Care | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Social media is one of the most talked about disruptions to marketing in decades, but how is it impactful for the health care industry? In a generation that is more likely to go online to answer general health questions then ask a doctor, what role does social media play in this process? Let’s dive into some meaningful statistics and figures to clearly illustrate how social media has impacted health care in the last few years.

 

1. More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health. (source: Mediabistro)

Why this matters: Health care professionals have an obligation to create educational content to be shared across social media that will help accurately inform consumers about health related issues and out shine misleading information. The opinions of others on social media are often trusted but aren’t always accurate sources of insights, especially when it comes to a subject as sensitive as health.

 

2. 18 to 24 year olds are more than 2x as likely than 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions. (source: Mediabistro)

Why this matters: 18 to 24 year olds are early adopters of social media and new forms of communication which makes it important for health care professionals to join in on these conversations where and when they are happening. Don’t move too slow or you risk losing the attention of this generation overtime.

 

3. 90% of respondents from 18 to 24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks. (source: Search Engine Watch)

Why this matters: A millennial’s network on social media is a group of people that is well trusted online, which again, presents an opportunity to connect with them as health care professional in a new and authentic way.

 

4. 31% of health care organizations have specific social media guidelines in writing. (source: Institute for Health)

Why this matters: It is crucial to have social media guidelines in place for your health care facility to ensure everyone is on the same page, your staff is aware of limitations to their actions on social media and that a systematic strategy is in place for how social media should be run across your organization.

 

5. 19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone. Exercise, diet, and weight apps are the most popular types. (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)

Why this matters: This drives home the need for your health care organization to look into possibly launching a health related app focused on your specialty. This statistic doesn’t mean every health care facility should have their own app, but they should have a strong mobile focus across their marketing no matter their size.

 

6. From a recent study, 54% of patients are very comfortable with their providers seeking advice from online communities to better treat their conditions. (source: Mediabistro)

Why this matters: If the context of a group or community online is high quality and curated, then many trust that crowd sourcing of information from other like mind individuals is reliable. This shows how people perceive the Internet to be beneficial for the exchange of relevant information, even about their health.

 

7. 31% of health care professionals use social media for professional networking. (source: MedTechMedia)

Why this matters: This helps shine a stronger emphasis on the many applications and benefits of social media, one of which being professional development for health care workers from networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

8. 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)

Why this matters: This statistic shows that social media can be a vehicle to help scale both positive and negative word of mouth, which makes it an important channel for an individual or organization in the health care industry to focus on in order to attract and retain patients. Consumers are using social media to discuss everything in their lives including health and it is up to your organization to choose whether it’s time to tune in.

 

9. 30% of adults are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients, 47% with doctors, 43% with hospitals, 38% with a health insurance company and 32% with a drug company. (source: Fluency Media)

Why this matters: Social media is slowly helping improve the way people feel about transparency and authenticity, which will hopefully lead to more productive discussions and innovations regarding an individual’s health.

 

10. 26% of all hospitals in the US participate in social media. (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)

Why this matters: If your hospital isn’t using social media, then you’re way behind the learning curve. Social media is really important for hospitals to communicate with past, present and future patients, despite the many regulations to what can and can’t be said on behalf of the hospital.

 

11. The most accessed online resources for health related information are: 56% searched WebMD, 31% on Wikipedia, 29% on health magazine websites, 17% used Facebook, 15% used YouTube, 13% used a blog or multiple blogs, 12% used patient communities, 6% used Twitter and 27% used none of the above. (source: Mashable)

Why this matters: Understanding where a majority of consumer health information comes from is important way of knowing of its value, credibility and reliability. It is important to differentiate sources of quality content from other less desirable sources of info.

 

12. Parents are more likely to seek medical answers online, 22% use Facebook and 20% use YouTube. Of non-parents, 14% use Facebook and 12% use YouTube to search for health care related topics. (source: Mashable)

Why this matters: Parents are more concerned about the well-being of their children then they were before having children, therefore they often source more information about a loved one’s health on social media and online more then ever before.

 

13. 60% of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients. (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)

Why this matters: This statistic is important because it shows that many doctors believe that the transparency and authenticity that social media helps spur is actually improving the quality of care provided to patients. Lets hope this is a continuing trend among the industry for patients at all levels.

 

14. 2/3 of doctors are use social media for professional purposes, often preferring an open forum as opposed to a physician-only online community. (source: EMR Thoughts)

Why this matters: It is interesting that a majority of doctors chose a more open forum as opposed to discussion in a health care specific community online. It is a fascinating statistic because it feeds into the same premise that a certain level of transparency spurred by social media is taking ahold of the entire industry.

 

15. YouTube traffic to hospital sites has increased 119% year-over-year. (source: Google’s Think Insights)

Why this matters: Video marketing converts to traffic and leads much more easily than other forms of content because it more effectively gets across the point, shares a human element and is able to highlight the value of the facilities more quickly. Other hospital facilities should look to create video content based around interviews, patient stories and more.

 

16. International Telecommunications Union estimates that global penetration of mobile devices has reached 87% as of 2011. (source: mHealth Watch)

Why this matters: Once again, it’s time to think mobile first, second and third for your healthcare facility. With mobile penetration reaching an all time high, an age of connected devices is on the horizon for many healthcare facilities and it is time to develop a plan.

 

17. 28% of health-related conversations on Facebook are supporting health-related causes, followed by 27% of people commenting about health experiences or updates. (source: Infographics Archive)

Why this matters: This statistic supports and highlights two common uses of Facebook related to your health like sharing your favorite cause or interacting with others recovering. Social media has penetrated our society very deeply to the point where it has become a place where we share our interests and give support to others. This could be one of the many factors affecting why many trust the information found on social media about healthcare. The masses are continually accepting social media as a part of their everyday life, it is time your healthcare facility incorporated this marketing medium as part of your culture as well.

 

18. 60% of social media users are the most likely to trust social media posts and activity by doctors over any other group. (source: Infographics Archive)

Why this matters: Doctors as respected members of society are also highly revered for their opinions when they are shared on social media, which is even more reason to help boost your reach as a healthcare professional and actively use social media to discuss the industry.

 

19. 23% of drug companies have not addressed security and privacy in terms of social media. (source: Mediabistro)

Why this matters: This is an unsettling statistic about privacy concerns with drug companies that drastically needs to be addressed in order to guarantee that sensitive data is not accidentally released to the public on social media. It shows how many companies in health care still don’t know the first thing about the use of social media. This can be corrected by creating clear and concise guidelines on how social media should be used by the organization and its staff.

 

20. The Mayo Clinic’s podcast listeners rose by 76,000 after the clinic started using social media. (source: Infographics Archive)

< p>Why this matters: This is a clear cut example of how to successfully bolster the reach of your organization’s messaging by echoing it appropriately on social media. Mayo Clinic already had a regular podcast that they helped grow by effectively using social media to share content and chat with their audience. Don’t get left behind in the digital age, take this example and run with it.

 

21. 60% of physicians most popular activities on social are following what colleagues are sharing and discussing. (source: Health Care Communication)

Why this matters: Many people on social media are passive participants since they aren’t creating or commenting on content, but instead reading and observing the content and conversations of others in their network. This is also true for many doctors that find value using social media to exchange information but don’t always choose to join the conversation. Many doctors are seeing the value of social media, regardless if they are a participant or an observer.

 

22. 49% of those polled expect to hear from their doctor when requesting an appointment or follow-up discussion via social media within a few hours. (source: HealthCare Finance News)

Why this matters: This is a surprising statistic because of how many people are comfortable with connecting with their doctor on social media, as well as how quickly they expect their doctor to personally respond to their outreach. This is a telling sign that the way in which we typically book appointments and handle follow-up conversations after an appointment, will continue to be disrupted by the use of social media in the process.

 

23. 40% of people polled said information found on social media affects how someone coped with a chronic condition, their view of diet and exercise and their selection of a physician.(source: HealthCare Finance News)

Why this matters: The opinion and viewpoints of the people in our social circles online are continuously influencing our decision making even it when it comes to our opinion on healthcare options. Health care professionals should take note of this fact by using social media in an impactful way to ensure they become a part of the process of forming an opinion of a person’s health care options.

 

24. Of more than 1,500 hospitals nationwide who have an online presence, Facebook is most popular. (source: WHPRMS)

Why this matters: The fact that most hospitals use Facebook over other social media channels is important to note because time, staff and budget are always limited and your efforts with social media should be targeted and focused to where your organization can make the most impact.

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Why Physicians Are Embracing Online Patient Reviews

Why Physicians Are Embracing Online Patient Reviews | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Anytime Andy Pasternak, a family medicine physician in Reno, Nev., needs a slice of humble pie, he turns to one source.

Google.


"Usually if I am feeling good about myself and want to keep myself hungry, I'll Google my reviews," Pasternak says.


Indeed, some of the reviews on Pasternak's Yelp page (bit.ly/silver-sage-yelp) are downright mean: "Limited and narrow-minded way of thinking," "distracted from his job as a primary-care doctor," and he has an attitude that is "dismissive."


Not all of them are bad, and overall, his Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine has more positive ratings than negative ones. He has a three-star rating on Yelp and Vitals, and three-and-a-half stars on HealthGrades. Top-end restaurants in New York have been ranked worse.


For many docs though, the negative reviews stick out. While some may be warranted, physicians feel many come from people with grudges. "I've found them to be a little frustrating because for most of the online review sites, there was no way for me to be sure people writing the reviews had actually seen me in the office," says Ira Nash, an internal medicine physician and senior vice president of the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, with various locations in New York.


GROWING TREND


These sentiments are echoed by a number of doctors not exactly enthralled with the idea of their professional expertise being judged on Yelp, HealthGrades, Vitals, or any other website. Yet for better or worse, research shows that online reviews are how they're increasingly being discovered and judged.


A survey of approximately 3,000 patients, from Boston-based health tech company Nuance, discovered that more than half of millennials (the generation of patients in their mid- to late-30s and younger) say they use online reviews to shop for a doctor. Another survey, from Austin-based consulting firm, Software Advice, found that 42 percent of all patients said they used online reviews in 2014, which was up from just 25 percent in 2013.  "We're starting to see the shift in online access to individual provider information becoming more real, and more real to individual providers," says Anthony Oliva, the national medical director at Nuance.


Driving this demand is a conglomeration of consumerism and technology, according to experts. Patients expect it, says Nash, as part of a larger culture where all forms of decision making (from going to a restaurant to picking a pair of shoes) can be crowdsourced.


Furthermore, consumerism has been integrated into healthcare, as part of the shift from volume to value. While the government isn't using a physician's Yelp score to determine Medicare reimbursement, there are the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) and Clinician & Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) surveys. The HCAHPS is given to patients at discharge and can have an impact on a provider's Medicare total reimbursement, while CG-CAHPS is required as part of the Physician Quality Reporting System.


Moreover, thanks to the Internet and other technological innovations of the last 20 years, patients are more empowered than ever to make healthcare-related decisions. It doesn't just stop at picking a provider. The Nuance survey reflects how younger patients are coming to the doctor's office armed with health information they found online. A survey from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Internet users (87 percent of people surveyed) looked online for health information.


"There is pressure from marketplace to perform and meet patients' needs in ways there haven't been in the past," says Tom Lee, the chief medical officer of Press Ganey, a South Bend, Ind.-based software vendor that allows providers to survey patient satisfaction. "Meeting patients' needs hasn't exactly been front and center in eras past."


FAIR OR NOT?


Docs have differing opinions on whether or not online reviews help or hurt them. While he is an advocate of patients being involved in the decision-making process, Pasternak notes that providing someone with healthcare isn't exactly the same as providing them with a good meal.


"Healthcare is definitely a service industry and we're here to make patients and their families happy … but in many ways, it's a different model than having a restaurant or hotel. Oftentimes, a patient may request something … and it may not [be] appropriate or needed. It puts us in a situation where we know we will be judged, you kind of have to balance what the patient wants with what they really need," Pasternak says.


Nash adds that physicians are committed to excellent customer service, but there is a lot of skepticism that this is a valid way to check how they are doing. Lee says that in some cases, physicians have every right to be irked. "Who wouldn't be angry with ratings based on a small number of patients, many of whom weren't their patients in the first place or were biased toward negativity," Lee says.


Despite the flaws and an overall weariness toward online reviews, some physicians are embracing the change. Braun says many providers welcome the opportunity, as long as it's a fair dialogue. "As physicians, our first and foremost concern is the patient's well-being and this will trump the concern of getting a fantastic online review or avoiding a less than ideal one," he says.


Tod Baker, CEO of MDValuate, which provides physician performance analytics based on consumer-facing data, sees a generational divide between the providers who are OK with online reviews and the ones who are against it. "In my experiences, younger docs seem to be more acclimated to consumerism … It's easier for them to swallow. Some older docs have embraced it, but some are still fighting, kicking, and screaming. The ones closer to retirement … they think they can ride it out. Younger than that … they realize this is here to stay and part of their career," he says.


Baker adds that most physicians would prefer to be rated on quality outcomes, rather than something that could be construed as arbitrary. In that regard, Yelp announced it is teaming up with ProPublica, a non-profit, research journalism organization, to provide statistics-based care information, compiled through CMS databases, on a care facility's website.


HERE TO STAY


So how should physicians treat this emerging phenomenon? Whether they accept it or not, all experts agree that it is here to stay. Other than those in Baker's scenario who are close to retirement, the physician of the future will have to deal with being judged through a computer screen moving forward.


Many, like Aaron Braun, the medical director at SignatureCare Emergency in Dallas, advocate for a simple solution: "Every provider and their staff should strive to provide a great patient medical experience by being compassionate, empathetic, and delivering great care. This should usually result in positive online reviews," he says.

Pasternak tries to take the extra step. If someone seems agitated, he'll make sure he takes more time to figure out what he can do to make the experience better.  "I've been trying to be just a little more proactive with patients, especially if I sense they may not be satisfied, so we can just avoid the whole issue to begin with," he says.

He also has used bad online reviews to improve his processes. He had a bad review with the way a referral process was done and implemented changes to ensure it wouldn't happen again.


Taking a proactive approach is one that many believe in, even if it's something a little simpler, as in 'Pasternak's case, or something more aggressive.


"Providers should take ownership and take control of this and do it right," says Press Ganey's Lee. "By doing it right I mean, they should be trying to survey as many patients as possible."


Nash's organization has gone down that path. The medical group electronically surveys patients on their experience and posts each physician's ratings on their page. Nash says NorthShore-LIJ's process, unlike Yelp, HealthGrades, or Vitals, ensures that the patient was actually seen by that physician. The group is using these surveys to motivate physicians (see related sidebar).


Oliva at Nuance says there is something to the motivational benefits of being reviewed in this manner. "Physicians are motivated by reputation even stronger than most professions. Making this information transparent to them will get them to move, more than throwing dollars at them," he says.


THE OLD FASHIONED WAY


For organizations like NorthShore-LIJ Medical Group, which is owned by a large health system, embracing transparency is a matter of delineating the right resources. For smaller physician practices, those kinds of resources are not available. They have no choice but to live with Yelp, HealthGrades, Vitals or some other website as their source of being reviewed.


For those practices, they can conquer their pages with, as Braun implied, good old-fashioned care. Baker says he believes that 90 percent of the issues on those sites come down to better interpersonal skills. "If you actually make eye contact, smile, walk people to their room … it's [basic] patient/human-being interaction. If you do those things, you can manage [most] of this," Baker says.

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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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