Online Reputation Management for Doctors
17.2K views | +0 today
Follow
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
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scoop.it!

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.

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Physician Online Reputation Management

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

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


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


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


Directly Responding To A Negative Review


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

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


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


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


Patients Can Smell It From A Mile Away


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

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


For instance, an effective 4 star review would be:


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

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


Leaving Fake Reviews


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

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


Furthermore, there are legal ramifications for leaving fake reviews:

The FTC has the following guidelines for patient reviews:

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

A case can be made that this borders on extortion.


A Practical Solution


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

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

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

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

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

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.

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

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.

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Patient Care Skills Can Aid Physicians at Negotiations

Patient Care Skills Can Aid Physicians at Negotiations | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The first question we usually ask physician negotiators might sound simple, but it isn't. When you're in a negotiation, whether with a payer, employer, or other entity, whose perspective are you using? Whose needs and problems are you considering throughout the negotiation?


Whose viewpoint are you thinking about?

As physicians, this thinking is natural in the clinical environment. When speaking with a patient, whose perspective do you have in mind at that encounter? Whose needs are you focused on at that time? Naturally, we are focused on the patient's needs and work to find a solution to their problems.


You might not realize it, but you are already practicing two important aspects of negotiations: Keep the proper perspective and have a mission and purpose statement focused on the other individual. As we went through medical school and residency, we were trained to act with the other's best interest in mind as we make decisions in the clinical setting. These same skills can be very useful to us at the negotiation table.


Understanding of Patients and Negotiating Parties


If you had the other side's best interest at heart, how do you think you would approach their problems? What if you honestly desired to find a solution for their needs? What if you aimed to solve their problems?

It seems to us, whenever we begin to talk about negotiations, our human nature creeps in and takes hold. Our own self-interests begin to bubble to the surface. We become focused on ourselves — on our needs. Sometimes, we are so focused on our needs and problems, we fail to see how we can solve the other side's problems. We miss the point of being at the negotiation table.


Who we are focused on is vitally important to a successful negotiation. Many skilled negotiators work to manipulate and leverage our own self-interests for their benefit. They may dangle all sorts of carrots in front of you because they're focused on themselves and want to benefit themselves by manipulating you. You may use sticks instead of carrots. Neither side makes much progress. It can also be difficult for you not to do the same to them. How good do people feel after they perceive they've been manipulated? How successful will the performance of a contract be if either party feels manipulated or had leverage used against them?


So, what's the alternative? To be completely focused on their needs. We do this as physicians each and every day. The same sort of results can occur in any negotiation too.


A recent example of this comes mind. A practice was negotiating a service agreement with a moderate-sized hospital for a particular call service. The hospital desired to pay less for the call services than the practice was willing to offer. The practice felt the scope of the service proposed by the hospital was too large for the payment structure. Rather than focusing on their needs, the practice sought to better understand the needs of the hospital. They asked probing questions so they could understand the real needs of the hospital. They were not certain the hospital's administration truly understood their own needs. Rather than fighting with the hospital for a dollar amount the practice wanted for the proposed scope of call, they approached the situation from the hospital's viewpoint.


In doing so, they were able to uncover the real needs of the hospital. By asking good questions focused on the hospital's needs, the practice discovered that the decision makers in the hospital had two different ideas about the scope of call services needed. However, these decision makers had never discussed this amongst themselves. By focusing on the hospital's needs, the practice was able to help the hospital administrators see what they really needed in call services. If the practice had been focused on their needs only, they would have missed the needs of the hospital and probably fallen short in their service to the hospital. Ultimately, both sides would be unhappy with the agreement. However, in the end, the practice and the hospital agreed to a smaller scope of call services at a payment amount the practice wanted.


A Needs-Attentive Approach


Similar to interactions with patient, we must put the adversary's needs at the top of our list. Ask, "How can I best serve this customer and solve their problems?" As you begin to ask good questions, you give them the opportunity to develop a picture of their problem. Once they have communicated their problems, you can then match your solution to that problem in terms of the features and benefits you offer.


Physicians are actually lucky in that we already think of others first. How many nights, weekends, and holidays are we sacrificed for others? We are taught to place our patients first — their needs rank highest. When we give our therapy recommendations, we do so because we want them to get better, healthier, and happier. We give advice based upon what's in their best interests, not ours. I believe the majority of physicians are altruistic in nature and genuinely want to help others. However, when it comes to the negotiation table, that altruism seems to dissipate. But bear in mind, there's a wide difference between true altruism and absolute self-sacrifice. Never feel you have to save the other side. Never sacrifice yourself for them.


As we approach a negotiation, our mindset tends to veer towards ourselves and our needs. And as long as we come to a negotiation with a mindset of scarcity, we then focus on our own needs rather than the other person's. That is when each and every word or action becomes an affront to us personally. We become emotional. We get so focused on our needs and what we want out of the negotiation, we fail to really discover their problem and help them solve it. We don't take the time to ask the right questions and discover the other side's needs.

The opposite of this, and the solution we present, is to approach a negotiation with a growth mindset. This allows us to focus on the needs of the other party because what we want is to help them. When that is the goal, it's easy to get what you want.


An important tool to assist us stay focused on them is a mission and purpose statement.


The Mission and Purpose Statement


A mission and purpose statement guides our mindset and allows us to focus on the needs of others. Creating a mission and purpose statement is the first step in any negotiation. First, we determine what needs of the adversary we want to discover. Then, we determine how our features and benefits will fulfill those needs. We revisit this statement before each and every event during the negotiation. It can change over time as we progress in a negotiation and that's OK. However, it is this statement that keeps us focused and prevents us from being taken off track or down some inconsequential path.

In our last piece, we talked about making assumptions and asking good questions. When we focus on the other party, we understand that we don't know everything about them — who they are, what their circumstances are, etc. — and therefore must ask those pointed questions. We also use questions that are based upon our mission and purpose statement to guide our discovery process.


When approaching a negotiation, remember to focus on the needs of the other side. Ask, "Do I really know what their real problems are?" Then, ask, "How do my features and benefits meet their needs?" As a clinician, your statement might be, "To provide the patient with the opportunity to improve their health." During the interview with the patient, we discover what the problem is through questions. A physical exam follows and confirms or eliminates diagnoses. Eventually, we offer a solution to their problem. But each decision and question we ask is based upon a mission and purpose statement. We might not actually have it written down, but it is engrained in our minds.


At the negotiation table, it is a little harder. Frequently, human nature will get away. We can be tempted to focus on our needs. Using a mission and purpose statement, we can stay on track and work to help the adversary. We have been placing others' needs first for our entire careers. To be successful in negotiations, physicians much approach negotiations as they would a patient: be focused on the adversary's needs and problems.


Do this, and you'll begin to have more successful outcomes.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Responding to Negative Online Patient Reviews: 7 Tips

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

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

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

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

Here are seven tips for responding online to negative reviews:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

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."


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Doctors can Gain Confidence via Online Marketing

Doctors can Gain Confidence via Online Marketing | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Whenever I come across a new doctor nowadays, I make it a point to know more by Googling about him. And not just me, everyone tends to do it. This is THE trend! As a result, it is no longer enough for a doctor to open a dispensary and start his practice in order to become trustworthy and medically acceptable.


Healthcare technology has become a huge thing – merging the two sectors makes it easier to get loads of useful health information as well as recognize the caregiver in depth. Therefore, a doctor can gain an enormous amount of confidence if he takes out a little time for online marketing. After all, who would not want to consult a doctor who is also a Thought Leader of his domain?

Becoming a Thought Leader

A thought leader is not an inventor of new things. He is someone who creates something distinctive from the already existing and gives a different angle to an old story. For a doctor to be a thought leader, he needs to showcase his medical expertise and skills with his community.

And the best way to do it is by creating a personal blog site. However, there is no hardbound rule to post blogs only about health tips and remedies. The very purpose of a personal blog is to talk about personal opinions and experiences. As an industry expert, it is natural for a doctor to have come across a variety of patients and their unique cases. A doctor, via his blog posts, should educate and advice his readers… and if a patient gets help from a post, then he becomes a patient for life.


Another great place for a doctor to become a thought leader is Quora. This Q&A website attracts millions of people from various fields, including doctors. Create an account on Quora, and follow other industry experts and join relevant topics. And you have a question related to medicine, pitch it hard. Let others see and give their answers. In short, you get to create and be a part of a thought-provoking, virtual brainstorming session.

Becoming a Smart Social Player

The more active someone is on social channels, the more likely he is to get noticed and followed. And with more followers at the helm, a shared post becomes more probable in getting visited, read and shared. Even doctors know about the truth in this statement.

But the problem is: how to get followers in the first place? After a doctor has opened an account (with the name of the blog, of course) in popular social channels, he can join relevant ‘Groups’ and share his posts and start discussions. Facebook and LinkedIn have the ‘Group’ section which are effective mediums to engage with like-minded people and make them aware of the blog’s existence. Google Plus also offers something similar called ‘Communities’… and all these 3 together can be a great starting point.

Another thing that can boost the visibility of a blog post in social channels is Hashtag Engine Optimization ( or HEO), as HEO has been found to yield more immediate results than Search Engine Optimization. Instead of using hashtags casually, doctors should use them in accordance to the title of the blog post or something relevant to it. In this way, it will instantly reach people looking for results with those exact hashtags. Leaving out LinkedIn, the best places to use hashtags are Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Becoming a Voracious Reader

There is no end when it comes to learning new stuff, especially in the field of medicine where something or the other is getting introduced every day. The more a doctor reads, the more he knows; and the more he knows, more are his chances to come up with unique and interesting ideas.

A great place to read about healthcare technology or both the fields separately is Scoop.it. It is a content curation website where people curate interesting content from the Web and share it. If a doctor can open an account on this website, it will not only be a great platform to make people aware of your blog posts but also stumble upon interesting industry updates every now and then.

Healthcare Technology: Making Doctors more Important

Say for example, I’ve been suffering for a few weeks and a friend has suggested me the name of a doctor. In the age of Smartphones and Tablets, it is pretty instinctive for me to know more about the doctor before I pay a visit. So when I end up Googling his name, I get to see the expert opinions on his blog posts. Naturally, I will be forced to trust and consult someone so knowledgeable.

This is exactly how a brain works… and doctors need to act smart and use the weapons properly. And with this growing connection, maybe someday this world will get to be a disease-free place.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Marketing Your Practice Online

Marketing Your Practice Online | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

In previous years the conversation around marketing your medical practice centered on "Should I market my practice?" and "How much should I spend on marketing my practice?" Which then evolved into "Should I be online?" and "Is Facebook or social media really necessary to market my practice?"

Not anymore.


The conversation is now "How much time and money should I invest in online marketing?" It is now accepted that online marketing is not just an option for practices any longer; it is something they must do to attract new patients and stay competitive.


Determining cost


When determining a budget for your online marketing, it is best to start with the end in mind. Begin by looking at what your goals are for your online marketing program. I think it's best to frame them within short-term and long-term scenarios.

Here are some examples to get your creative wheels turning:

In 90 days, I would like to see an established and engaged audience of X number of people.

In 120 days, I would like to see my audience at X number, and receive X new patients per month from online efforts.

Once you have your goals set, you can determine the cost to achieve them. There are a number of factors to consider when determining the cost:


• Where does your ideal patient hang out?


Hint: Almost all practices should start with a website and Facebook.


• Who is managing the online effort — in-house vs. an outside firm?


There are many different levels of service available; from assistance with in-house efforts to complete outside management.


• What is the cost to reach your ideal patients?


Do you want to reach the 22-year-old diabetic patient in Boise, Idaho? You can, and often times for pennies. If you want to make your message more specific, it may cost a little more or less depending on the characteristics you seek.


• How will you stay in touch?


All of these variables, and many more, factor into what kind of investment you will need to make to reach the patients you want to see.

Compare these figures to what a single patient is worth to your practice to calculate how much time and money you should invest in online marketing efforts.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Marketing Your Practice Online

Marketing Your Practice Online | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

In previous years the conversation around marketing your medical practice centered on "Should I market my practice?" and "How much should I spend on marketing my practice?" Which then evolved into "Should I be online?" and "Is Facebook or social media really necessary to market my practice?"

Not anymore.


The conversation is now "How much time and money should I invest in online marketing?" It is now accepted that online marketing is not just an option for practices any longer; it is something they must do to attract new patients and stay competitive.


Determining cost


When determining a budget for your online marketing, it is best to start with the end in mind. Begin by looking at what your goals are for your online marketing program. I think it's best to frame them within short-term and long-term scenarios.

Here are some examples to get your creative wheels turning:

In 90 days, I would like to see an established and engaged audience of X number of people.

In 120 days, I would like to see my audience at X number, and receive X new patients per month from online efforts.

Once you have your goals set, you can determine the cost to achieve them. There are a number of factors to consider when determining the cost:


• Where does your ideal patient hang out?


Hint: Almost all practices should start with a website and Facebook.

• Who is managing the online effort — in-house vs. an outside firm?

There are many different levels of service available; from assistance with in-house efforts to complete outside management.


• What is the cost to reach your ideal patients?


Do you want to reach the 22-year-old diabetic patient in Boise, Idaho? You can, and often times for pennies. If you want to make your message more specific, it may cost a little more or less depending on the characteristics you seek.


• How will you stay in touch?


All of these variables, and many more, factor into what kind of investment you will need to make to reach the patients you want to see.

Compare these figures to what a single patient is worth to your practice to calculate how much time and money you should invest in online marketing efforts.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Physician Beware: Ruling Expands Reach of Anti-Kickback

Physician Beware: Ruling Expands Reach of Anti-Kickback | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

I lecture clients regularly on compliance with the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), a criminal federal statute that generally prohibits the giving or solicitation of “kickbacks” for referring federal patients to a particular healthcare provider. 

Unlike most statutes and their related case law, which typically allow healthcare attorneys to provide clients with fairly clear guidance, case development around the AKS has created much uncertainty, even for experienced counsel.

In yet another decision that adds complexity to advising clients on the AKS, a recent decision in the 7th Circuit (United States v Patel) has expanded the reach of the AKS even further.  In this case, the court examined the definition of a “referral” under the AKS and determined that an illegal referral can exist even where a physician plays no role in determining the healthcare provider from which a patient may obtain services.

In this case, a Chicago physician, Dr. Patel, routinely saw patients who required home healthcare services.  In order for a federal patient to receive home healthcare services, a physician must complete Form 485, which certifies not only that home care is medically necessary but it also outlines the diagnosis and treatment plan, among other details.  Although Dr. Patel’s patients apparently went to many different agencies, one agency (Grand) had an arrangement to pay Dr. Patel $400 for each signed Form 485 when the patient chose such agency, and an additional $300 if the patient was recertified for care beyond 60 days.

The interesting part of the Patel case is that although Dr. Patel decided when and if patients required home healthcare (and in fact nobody questioned that the patients were properly certified for such care), Dr. Patel played no role in steering  patients toward any particular home health agency.  In fact, patients were presented by a practice nurse with a wide variety of home health agency brochures from which to choose (and most chose an agency other than Grand). 

Still, the government found that the arrangement between Patel and Grand violated the AKS.

Most healthcare lawyers would likely not have approved the arrangement between Grand and Patel in the first instance.  After all, why was Grand paying Patel for a form he needed to complete for his patients?  Did it hope he would steer patients to Grand even if Patel apparently took no action to do so?  Did Patel not wonder why other agencies made no such payments? 

The AKS is an intent-based statute and case law in the area has always made it clear that if even one purpose of the remuneration is to induce the referral of a federal patient to obtain items or services from a particular provider, then the statute is implicated.  Under this scenario, I would have warned my clients that such payments were potential kickbacks.

In the Patel case, the court’s interpretation was different than expected.  Rejecting Dr. Patel’s argument that a “referral” cannot occur without a recommendation of a healthcare provider (and in this case, no “recommendation” was made), the court agreed with the government’s argument that a doctor’s authorization of care can be a “referral” within the meaning of the statute.

Accordingly, the court held that Patel determining that his patients could go to Grand put Dr. Patel in the role of “gatekeeper” to federally-reimbursed care.  Consequently, the court found that even if no specific recommendation was made, Dr. Patel did take some action to allow his patients to go to Grand, and was paid in return.

What does this decision mean for physicians and counsel setting up arrangements in the future? Payments from healthcare providers in any way, shape, or form must be considered suspect and fully examined. 

Although the same analysis and concerns regarding the AKS continue to apply, providers are advised to assume the broadest interpretation of the AKS that could apply to any arrangement, to closely review the direct and indirect flow of funds between all healthcare providers, and to keep an eye out for potential “gatekeeper” roles that a provider may play.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Lawsuit Highlights Dangers of Physician Self-Referral

Lawsuit Highlights Dangers of Physician Self-Referral | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

North Cypress Hospital (Houston, Texas) and its CEO Dr. Robert Behar are named in a lawsuit filed by Aetna. The allegations include fraudulent billing schemes, as well as violations of Texas Insurance Code and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Fraudulent billings schemes often implicate both the Federal and Texas anti-kickback statutes, which may include criminal penalties.

In general, this case is about a 139-bed hospital located north of Houston's downtown, with reported annual gross revenues exceeding $1.5 billion per year. While some may say, "Wow, how can we achieve those earnings," others may ask, "Why are there revenues more than twice that of similarly situated hospitals that have more patients and a different case mix index?" The latter question is also the one Aetna's complaint alleges.

One area that should be of particular interest to physicians in this case is the fact that there are physician ownership interests in North Cypress Hospital. Moreover, Dr. Behar allegedly utilized a process to track both the volume and value of the referring physicians. While this practice may not be uncommon, what is uncommon is for ownership interests to increase or decrease based upon referrals. As set forth in the complaint, "Absent this, patients would not knowingly be treated at North Cypress and agree to pay much higher out-of-pocket amounts required under the terms of their plan, when they could get the same services at a fraction of the cost at hospitals in Aetna's network within close proximity of North Cypress."

North Cypress, in a press statement, indicated that "North Cypress has established that Aetna's upper management has engineered a scheme to sue out-of-network providers throughout the nation to coerce them into financially burdensome in-network contracts with Aetna, by filing suits alleging baseless violations of law which do not apply in commercial contexts, to release damaging press statements, and to 'bring down' any provider who dares oppose it."

For physicians, there are many takeaways:

• Do you know how you are ranked among your peers in terms of volume of procedures at any given place?

• Do you know how the hospital that you refer to and have privileges at ranks in terms of its PEPPER Report?

• Do you know if your ownership interest in any entity that you refer to meets the guidelines of the safe-harbors for the 40/60 Rule (referring physicians cannot comprise more than 40 percent of the ownership and cannot generate more than 40 percent of the total revenues)?

• Do you know if the state that you practice in has more stringent anti-kickback provisions than the Federal statute? For example, under Texas law, transactions that do not involve government dollars (i.e., Medicare or Medicaid) are covered under the State's statute.

• Do you have a compliance program in place and are you familiar with the 60-day Rule for self-reporting?


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Making Your Practice a 'Best' Place to Work

Making Your Practice a 'Best' Place to Work | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Every office has something the employees get excited about, whether it’s the summer picnic, bring-your-child-to-work day, or Taco Tuesday. At my office, we’ve never met a party that we didn’t like.

We celebrate birthdays and holidays and promotions and each of the goals we achieve. But no celebration is more meaningful than Fortune day.

Last week, our parent company CHG Healthcare Services was ranked 16 on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list (and here’s how we celebrated).

One reason our company stands out as a great place to work is that fostering a healthy workplace culture is a top priority for us.

Here's why workplace "culture" is so important, and how you can cultivate a great workplace culture at your practice.

Culture Sets You Apart From Your Competition

After the dark days of the Great Recession, the economy has bounced back. In many industries, and especially in healthcare, people have gone from worrying about just hanging onto their job, to having the freedom to be picky about where they choose to work.

In a job seeker’s market, it’s important to ask yourself some tough questions. Why would a physician or staff member choose to work with your practice?  What makes you stand out from the competition? What are you doing to keep your current team engaged?

If you’re doing things right, the answer to each of these questions will be the same: We have, and cultivate, a strong company culture.

Cultivating a Great Culture

Making your practice a place where people want to work isn’t easy. It takes consistent and concerted efforts. Here are some of the things that can help.

1. Hire for cultural fit and train for skills. When it comes to hiring staff, strong skills and an impressive background are nice. But if you really want to hire the right candidate, focus on who they are as a person. Will they fit in with the team? Do they care about the mission of the practice? Will the job help them reach their long-term goals?

Remember, job candidates who are engaged not only make better employees, but they’re much more likely to stick around.

2. Give your team a voice. People want to work for someone they can trust. One of the keys to building trust is to ask for regular feedback from your team, whether it’s through formal channels like surveys or through more informal meetings.

But gathering feedback is just the first step. You also need to be willing to implement some of those ideas and be transparent about decisions affecting the practice.

3. Take care of each other. One of the best parts of working in healthcare is the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those you serve. But that service doesn’t have to be constrained to the walls of the practice. Encourage your employees to give back to the greater community by offering them paid time off when they volunteer.

Creating a strong culture won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. As we’ve implemented these practices at our office, we’ve seen retention improve and engagement increase. Not surprisingly, our success in building culture has resulted in success in building our business.

And that’s something worth celebrating.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Doctors and Their Online Reputation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a social media manifesto for physicians.

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

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

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

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

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

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

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.

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Google+ for Physicians: A Free Tool for Reputation Management

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

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


Doctor review websites


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


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


How does Social Media Fit into Healthcare?


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

Building a Social Media Voice


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


Doctor on twitter


What about Referrals?


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


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


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


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


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


Conclusion


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

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

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.

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

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.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Making Digital Connections with Patients between Visits

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


Frequent check-ins  


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


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


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


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


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


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


The results:


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

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

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

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


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

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.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Strategies for Dealing with Value-Based Modifiers

Strategies for Dealing with Value-Based Modifiers | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

As we know many payers are implementing various approaches to pay-for-performance reimbursement or value-based reimbursement programs. Medicare has announced significant goals in modifying payment models; rolling out value-based payment modifiers (VBPM) this year. Patient care activity in 2015 will impact every Medicare payment in 2017. Physician groups of 100 or more will have payments affected this year, groups of 10 or more in 2016, and all groups in 2017. Medicare will determine the amount of payment incentive or adjustment based on the information noted below. The range is from - 4 percent to + 4 percent of Medicare payments.

Below are some thoughts on how you can respond to VBPMs and optimize the care provided patients and maintain or gain financial viability.


1. Continue to participate in PQRS which is the basis for the Medicare Value-Based Payment Modifier program. Understand how your profile fits within the six domains (check meaningful use): clinical process/effectiveness; patient and family engagement; population/public health; patient safety; care coordination; and efficient use of healthcare resources.


2. Access your practice Quality and Resource Use Report, QRUR, by obtaining an IACS number from CMS. This report was published by CMS last fall and compares your practice to peers on both quality and cost measures. This can be downloaded in both PDF and excel formats. It's complex but worth spending time on to both understand and identify your practice profile.


3. Monitor your entire provider panel in key measures:

Quality:

a. Preventable hospital admissions:

• Patients with acute episodes of dehydration, UTI, and bacterial pneumonia

• Chronic patients with heart failure, COPD, and diabetes

b. All cause hospital readmissions

Cost — your practice status:

a. All Part A and Part B payments (Part D excluded)

b. For disease categories: COPD, heart failure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes

c. Medicare Spend Per Beneficiary, MSPB, for three days prior to and 30 days post discharge

d. Total Medicare Allowable per applicable CPT code

4. Report monthly on what is occurring.

a. Your practice will not know the Medicare ranking until the end of period.

b. Rankings are determined by the eligible provider (EP) who has a "plurality" of primary-care codes assigned and the Medicare allowable charge amount assigned. Primary-care providers will be considered first, but any specialist may qualify.

c. A minimum of 20 episodes per measure (see quality above) hence the need to monitor your practice. If insufficient numbers are there, you may not see either the incentive or adjustment.


5. Regular review and reporting will help lead the practice toward a more "quality" impact and focus. When all staff, not just providers, work together, the cumbersome nature of reporting will become easier and part of everyday practice life — since in many cases the impact is not significant this year. It will however become more impactful in the years to come, as not only VBPM programs come into play, but overall payment model reforms are implemented. There will be an eventual culture change!


Long term outcomes for practices should be improved patient care, compliance with the new paradigm, and an improved financial picture. How you approach it now may determine the long-term success and viability of your practice in the future.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

PAs and Malpractice Risks: A PA's Perspective

PAs and Malpractice Risks: A PA's Perspective | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

I occasionally get questions from physician colleagues that highlight the confusion some physicians have about practicing medicine in teams with PAs, and the concerns many of them have regarding the malpractice risks associated with the PAs on these teams.

These are valid questions and concerns and, given that more PAs are practicing in teams with physicians and many have a significant level of autonomy in delivering care, I am encountering such questions and concerns more frequently than in the past.

Here's how I respond to such questions, and some guidance I have for physicians who are working with PAs, or considering doing so.


Do Your Homework


It behooves the physician working with a PA to vet the PA well to understand the training, experience, and capability of the individual PA. Physicians should keep in mind that a PA's capabilities may vary depending on experience. A new PA graduate in his first job requires a much more hands-on approach to team practice than a PA who has been practicing in that particular specialty for 10 years to 20 years.

While the main reason for vetting the PA is just good, responsible patient care, the secondary reason is that the physician is responsible for the care of each patient that the PA treats, whether the physician is aware of this patient or not.


In other words, when a PA is practicing medicine, he is the “agent” of the physician. This means that the actions and orders of the PA are considered the same as if the physician took the action or made the order.


Consider the Benefits


I have heard some physicians use malpractice risks as a reason to not work with PAs. I always counter with the “two heads are better than one” argument when it comes to caring for patients.

A more important argument is that historical data shows that PAs are sued at a much lower rate than physicians, and, when they are sued, the awards and settlements are much smaller than for cases involving physicians.


One of the maxims one of my physician colleagues taught me many years ago is that when your patients like you, they are much less likely to sue you and much more readily willing to forgive medical errors and subsequent injury. This is an area where I think that PAs really add value to a practice.


My physician partner and I have a robust plastic and reconstructive surgery practice. He is extremely busy and covers two hospitals. I am able to interact with our patients in a more timely and less harried manner; I handle the never-ending and sometimes overwhelming administrative burdens associated with a hospital-based practice; I give the patients validation for their questions and concerns; and I “triage” those concerns to determine which issues my surgeon needs to deal with directly.


Patients see usas a team and a united front. We both take time to get to know our patients, and address their concerns. I extend that ethos and capability to a level that I know increases patient satisfaction because our patients continually tell us so.


The bottom line is that if a physician does due diligence, he can confidently work in teams with PAs and other providers, and enhance the overall safety and effectiveness of the practice while at the same time reducing the liability risk to the team.

Guidance for Physicians working with PAs

Here's what physicians working with PAs should focus on to minimize their risks and maximize the benefits: 

  • Know the skills, experience, and training of the PA. This should determine how much you interact with the PA and how much autonomy she receives.
  • Discuss clear guidelines for managing difficult patient problems, so that everyone on the team is on the same page.
  • Be available and approachable for interactions on patient care questions and concerns. This intuitively makes sense and is the basis for my belief that two heads are in fact better than one when it comes to patient care.
  • Document the actual interaction/consultation you have with the PA. Given the ease at which these interactions can be documented in this day and age, there is no excuse for not documenting on the patient chart  all the team consultations that occur. My in-house H&Ps, as well as my consultations, always include documentation of my interaction with my surgeon, when it occurs.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

The Ever-Full Yet Fulfilling Days of Being a Physician

The Ever-Full Yet Fulfilling Days of Being a Physician | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Monday morning began with the “hurry up and wait” chaos so common on labor and delivery, followed by three deliveries in just under 24 hours. The last one occurred a mere 40 minutes before my first patient was scheduled Tuesday morning. Fortunately, this week I had the forethought to bring office clothes with me to the hospital so that I did not have to grace the clinic in my ever-fashionable scrubs.

While downing my Starbucks, I plowed through my morning schedule. I placed an IUD, checked a C-section scar, pondered the implications of my patient calling out an ex-boyfriend’s name during sleep sex, reviewed diabetes medications and glucose control in light of new peripheral neuropathy, had a required “face-to-face” appointment to replace medical equipment that had already been approved twice before for a permanent condition, and then ended the session with a 21-year-old already plagued with chronic back pain who has exhausted two neurologists, one neurosurgeon, and a pain management specialist. Thank goodness my first two patients had to reschedule and one cancelled or I would have been running even later than usual.

As the last patient checked out I tried to keep my eyes open to review the ever-growing number of tasks in my box alerting me to prior authorizations that I had to complete for medications my patient has been on for many months, paperwork for a child that had not been seen in over two years, and stat refills for a patient who ran out of his medications four days before. I had not yet started my billing for that morning’s session.

Tuesday afternoons usually permit some administrative time, however, residents were streaming into my office with myriad questions, my prenatal coordinator had concerns about a new OB patient’s hepatitis C test results, and one of the rotating medical students asked for a letter of recommendation.

I meant to bring home the day’s notes and billing to do at home after the kids were tucked into bed, but once dinner was done I collapsed in bed, intermittently interrupted by the baby waking up at one and three and five.

Wednesday morning I did not see patients, instead I sat in the preceptor room and reviewed ambulatory patients with residents. I was hoping again to get to the billing before the office manager started complaining. However, the residents had challenging patients and I spent the morning explaining the need to correct for prematurity when looking at developmental milestones, reviewing Pap smear screening guidelines, and identifying who actually needed blood work that day. The last resident patient was scheduled for just before lunch and as I sat waiting for the residents to finish, one of my advisees popped her head in to ask if we were still meeting during lunch. I assured her that I would be in my office in about 15 minutes and made a mental note to remind myself to write those types of meetings down because I had completely forgotten.

This resident is in her last year of training and that day we discussed outstanding items for her to complete before graduation, tallied up how many office visits she needs to complete before July, and talked about her career goals. The conversation continued until I realized that the lunch had taken us 15 minutes into my afternoon patient session. Wrapping up, I stepped out of my office to huddle with my nurses, finding a fourth-year medical student waiting to work with me. I sent her in to see the first patient while I reviewed previsit planning with my team.

The afternoon patients were intermingled with residents coming to discuss prenatal patients, as well as my office staff looking for my signature on a variety of paperwork. Additionally, the school guidance counselor called to discuss my middle daughter’s schoolwork. The medical student helped immensely that day, as she gave extra attention to my patients. We had a two-month old needing immunizations coming in with her 16-year-old mother whom I had just placed a hormonal implant last week. This visit let me check on both mom and baby. When I finished with the last patient and reviewed with the student, I still had phone calls to make and results to verify.

Thursday started with a faculty meeting running 15 minutes into my morning patient session. Fortunately, the first patient didn't mind waiting. Again I seemed to whirl through patient rooms, reviewing a urinalysis here, ordering blood work there. I had a new prenatal patient that day. It was her first pregnancy after struggling with infertility for years and I spent more time than I should, or perhaps more correctly, more time than I was allotted with her, so again I fell behind.

Friday is looming for me. There is still charting and billing to complete. It has been a long week with seemingly endless paperwork and phone calls. But over the course of the week I helped three babies into the world, taught young doctors, and took the extra time my patients needed me to take.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Is Your Hospital Embracing or Ignoring Social Media?

Is Your Hospital Embracing or Ignoring Social Media? | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

At this point, I don’t think there’s any argument that social media influencers our health choices. In the above mentioned survey, 40% of them realize that it’s impacting them. Trying to say that social media doesn’t influence health decisions is like trying to say that your friends and family don’t influence your health decisions. Social media is the new way we communicate with friends and family. They influenced our health before social media and are still doing it, but in the new social media medium.

We know that social media is influencing health decisions, but is your hospital embracing the power of social media or trying to ignore it? I bet most hospital CIOs have no idea. I bet most hospital CMO (Chief Medical Officers) don’t know much better either.

There’s a simple way for you to know how well your hospital is embracing social media. Just ask yourself the question, “Is social media in my hospital considered a marketing and PR task?”

If the answer to that question is yes, then you have not embraced social media in your hospital. Certainly there is a lot of opportunity for a hospital marketing and PR department to use social media and they should (Side Note: I have a conference focused on hospital social media, so I intimately know the power of it in marketing and PR). However, if social media is only considered a marketing and PR task, then your hospital is missing out on so many benefits that can come from a hospital using social media.

The first step to embracing this culture is involving your hospital CIO and hospital CMO (Chief Medical Officer) in social media. They’ll have ideas and insights into how to use social media that go well beyond marketing a hospital’s services. In the new value based reimbursement world, this new form of outreach and connection to patients is going to be critical.

The second step to embracing hospital social media is to put budget and resources (ie. people) behind the initiatives that are created by your marketing/PR team, IT team, and medical team. There’s very little value that’s created from a meeting of these people without the ability to follow through on the ideas and suggestions they create.

Sadly, most hospitals have never even had this meeting (possibly because they don’t want to commit the resources). Those few hospitals who have had this meeting haven’t committed the resources needed to turn their ideas into reality. I think these are both failed strategies for hospitals that will catch up to them in a big way. I think a hospital’s approach to social media will soon tell us a lot about a hospital’s approach to patient care.


No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Simple Ways to Ward Off a Lawsuit

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

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

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

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

Be nice, patient, and compassionate.

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

Documentation can only help you.

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

Always call your attorney first.

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

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


No comment yet.