Online Reputation Management for Doctors
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Online Reputation Management for Doctors
Curated and Written Articles to help Physicians and Other Healthcare Providers manage reputation online. Tips on Social media, SEO, Online Review Managements and Medical Websites
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How Much Is a New Patient Worth to Your Medical Practice?

How Much Is a New Patient Worth to Your Medical Practice? | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Determining the lifetime value of a new patient can help your medical practice run a more informed and cost-effective business.

 

In an increasingly competitive healthcare environment, there’s no way around the fact that in order to get a seat in the table, you have to ante up. That means investing in a variety of digital marketing tactics, such as search engine and social media advertising, content marketing, and website optimization. But how do you determine how much budget you can spend on patient acquisition while still remaining profitable?

 

By determining the actual lifetime value of a new patient for your medical practice, you’ll be better prepared to set realistic goals, build an impactful strategy, and justify your decisions to administrators. Most importantly, by assigning a hard value to each new patient gained, you’ll gain a practical understanding of what kind of marketing budget is appropriate in order to maximize your practice’s profitability.

How to Determine a Patient’s Value

The real question is, how do you actually go about calculating the lifetime value of your patients? It’s best to begin with the basics. Of course, you want the number to be as accurate as possible — but a bit of estimation is expected and perfectly acceptable. Here are a few of the considerations you should take into account:

  • Average cost of each in-office visit
  • How many times the average patient receives treatment
  • Average number of peer referrals per existing patient
  • Average recurring revenue generated by each patient
  • Revenue from procedures

For example, if you typically charge $120 for an in-office consultation, and the average patient visits the practice about five times per year, each patient is worth a minimum of $600 per year. However, if each of those patients, on average, makes two referrals that result in new appointments, their value effectively doubles. And that’s not even factoring in recurring revenue from follow-up visits, as well as revenue from procedures.

Then you have to consider that value over the course of a lifetime — the longer the patient stays with your practice, the longer you’ll continue earning the same amount of revenue (and sometimes even more) year after year.

Once you’ve identified the average baseline value of each new patient, you can determine all sorts of things, like how much you can afford to spend on various digital tactics while still remaining profitable.

Maximizing the Lifetime Value of Each Patient

Now that you’ve determined the potential lifetime value of each patient, it’s time to focus your efforts on improving that value. The good news is this is a relatively simple thing to do.

 

You should strive to make your practice as patient-focused as possible, both online and off. By improving the overall patient experience, you bolster loyalty, retention, and referrals. In an increasingly competitive healthcare environment, the value of a solid reputation is immeasurable. Also, remember that it’s much more expensive to find new patients than it is to hold onto existing ones.

 

At the end of the day, the deeper your understanding of who your patients are and the lifetime value they represent, the better you’re able to build the business side of your operation. By reducing revenue-related stress and uncertainty, you can focus more of your attention on quality of care, treatment, and patient satisfaction — in other words, the building blocks of a successful and sustainable medical practice.

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

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

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Online Reputation Management Strategies For Medical Practitioners

Online Reputation Management Strategies For Medical Practitioners | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

While the Internet revolutionizes patient privacy laws, it's also redefining the relationship between medical practitioners and their patients. While this relationship was once restricted to the exam room, patients are now empowered to take their musings about healthcare – the good, the bad and the ugly – online.

While the notion of having your practice reviewed on a third-party review site can feel nerve-wracking, the reality is online reviews are being increasingly utilized by patients. A recent survey found that more than 65 percent of people are aware of online physician rating sites and approximately 28 percent of potential patients search these sites. More than 40 percent of respondents deemed physician rating sites as "very important" for choosing a physician. In another study, 45 percent of respondents were willing to see an out-of-network doctor if he or she had more positive online reviews than an in-network doctor.

Today, in the U.S. alone, there are over 65 sites devoted to online medical reviews. While the structure and extent of information varies, most sites provide basic information about a given physician or practice, including education, specialty and experience. Physician ratings are assigned to a variety of factors influencing patient care. The most common factors include the physician’s communication skills, bedside manner, ease of scheduling an appointment, wait times, office and waiting room cleanliness, and staff courtesy.

Online reviews should not be dreaded or feared. They can be used as tools to help medical practitioners ensure the quality of patient care. You must accept the fact that online reviews are a reality. Whether you like it or not, online reviews are trusted by patients with increasing frequency. Your practice will have a better chance of performing well if you can leverage the power of positive online reviews, improving your online reputation.

A proactive online reputation strategy can help current and prospective patients perceive your practice as an established, credible, authoritative medical resource. Positive reviews can also suppress negative remarks, pushing them lower on search engine results pages to help reduce their visibility. Here are some effective strategies for monitoring and improving the online reputation of your medical practice:

•Keep listings updated: In addition to third-party websites such as RateMDs.com and Vitals.com, keep business information updated on search engines like Bing and Google. Consistent and accurate listings on multiple sites make you appear engaged with patients, improves Google page ranking and reduces frustration over incorrect on. This strategy is particularly important for small practices and clinics that offer unique features or services such as flexible appointments, short wait times, multiple locations, and multiple insurance plans accepted.

•Monitor online conversations: Monitor your patients and know what is being posted about your practice on social media channels and other sites. You can use tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention to monitor the digital landscape. To manage online conversations, you must first claim all public listings of your practice on local directories, including Google Places. By claiming your listing, you gain control of what gets published under your brand’s name.

•Respond to online reviews: It's important to track and address online reviews promptly and professionally. Instead of waiting for reviews to come in, you should look for innovative ways to encourage your patients to post positive online reviews for your practice. Make the review process simple. The easier you make it for your patients to leave a review, the more likely they are to do so. Consider implementing a tool that gathers reviews from various sites so you stay one step ahead.

•Use social media to engage patients: No practice can afford to evade the influence of social media, and therefore it becomes critical to monitor social media channels and actively engage patients. You can implement tools to help you track social activity and brand mentions in a dashboard format using a site like Hootsuite. By staying active on social media, you can create brand advocates, drive website traffic, and attract positive reviews and feedback for your practice.

•Provide unmatched customer service: Most often, unhappy patients will not complain; but are unlikely to use your practice in the future. If you do not provide excellent care, patients will rarely bother telling you what your mistakes were or how to improve. Unhappy patients, in addition to not returning to your practice, will likely tell others about their bad experience. The ripple effect of one unhappy patient can be very damaging to your brand reputation. Make sure your staff is trained on providing excellent customer service.

Managing your medical practice’s online reputation is a continuous activity. You cannot build a strong reputation overnight. This is why most doctors choose to hire professionals to help them improve the online reputation of their medical practice.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

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

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Doctors can establish their online reputation in these 2 ways

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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Stop the Conflict in Your Medical Practice

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

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

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


1. Ask about the desired outcome.


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


2. Bring both parties together.


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


3. Make sure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.


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


4. Hold people accountable.


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


5. Praise in public, criticize in private.


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


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


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


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


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

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Doctors and Their Online Reputation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a social media manifesto for physicians.

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

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

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

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

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

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Physician Online Reputation Management

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

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


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


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


Directly Responding To A Negative Review


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

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


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


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


Patients Can Smell It From A Mile Away


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

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


For instance, an effective 4 star review would be:


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

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


Leaving Fake Reviews


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

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


Furthermore, there are legal ramifications for leaving fake reviews:

The FTC has the following guidelines for patient reviews:

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

A case can be made that this borders on extortion.


A Practical Solution


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Start by googling yourself


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


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


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


Find the right type of social network


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


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


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


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


Be careful of what you share


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


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


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

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What Physicians Should Consider When Managing Their Online Reputation

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

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

It Looks Real

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


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


The Legalities


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


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


Managing Carefully


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


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

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Physicians: Safeguard Your Online Reputation in 5 Steps

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few steps you can take right now:

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


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

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

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


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

Fourth, constantly monitor your online reputation.


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

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


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Transitioning to a Direct Primary-Care Medical Practice

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

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

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


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

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


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


HOW IT WORKS


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


FINDING A MARKET NICHE


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

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


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


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


FINANCIAL CHALLENGES


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Making Digital Connections with Patients between Visits

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


Frequent check-ins  


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


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


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


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


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


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


The results:


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

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

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

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


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How to Engage and Acquire Patients via Social Media

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Elements of a Good Digital Marketing Plan for Your Medical Practice

Elements of a Good Digital Marketing Plan for Your Medical Practice | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Marketing your medical practice online is becoming increasingly essential to insuring that your practice will attract new patients and thrive in the modern, digital age. After all, 35 percent of American health care consumers research medical issues online before calling their doctor and a growing number search for a new doctor online when they move to a new area. If you're not present on the web and on social media sites, then you're likely falling behind your competition. (Yes, practicing medicine should be all about helping people, but if they don't know your practice exists, you'll have no one to treat.)

Things to include in your digital marketing plan

1. Website. You website is the anchor to which all of your other digital marketing elements will point. Look at this like your building and your reception area. It's the first impression most patients are going to get of your practice. Take the time to make it professional, informative, easy to navigate and relevant. You'll also want to make the website reflect the personality of your practice. 

 

2. Social media.Social media is no longer just for sharing kid and cat photos. Today, you're as likely to find corporations (and medical practices) on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like as you are individuals. These sites offer a host of advantages for physicians. They help to take the "scary" out of visiting the doctor by allowing potential patients to get to know you before they call for an appointment. In addition, such sites make great forums for sharing public health information and information about special events. 90% of adults 18-24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks. (Source: PwC Health Research Institute)

 

3. Paid advertising.A little online paid advertising can yield big results. Unlike traditional channels like radio, tv and print advertising, where you pay to reach thousands of consumers who may not need your services, paid digital advertising can be targeted to reach just those people who have expressed an interest in your specialty by searching for the information online. 81% of people click on a sponsored link when looking for health information (Source:Geocentric) and 77% of patients used search prior to booking an appointment. (Source: Google).

 

4. Accurate Directory Information. There are over 800 different directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Super Pages, etc....It is impossible to identify which directories potential patients are using when locating a physician. Make sure your information is up-to-date and accurate so that whichever directory is being used, your information (location, hours of operation, phone numbers) is correct.

 

5. Claim Profiles and Monitor Review Sites. If you haven't done so already, claim profiles on sites like Vitals.com, Healthgrades, RateMDs and MD.com. Monitor these sites (as well as others like Yelp and Google+) for reviews about you or your practice. Stay proactive and protect your online reputation. 94% of prospective patients said reputation of facility is important (Source:Google)

Online marketing for physicians doesn't have to be time consuming or difficult. You just need a marketing plan that includes the elements mentioned above to grow your business into a successful medical practice. 

 

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

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

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Strategies to Market Your Practice for Success

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

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


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


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


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


• You enjoy working with;


• That need your help;


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


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


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

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Physicians Shouldn't Fall Prey to Unsustainable Stress

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

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

Coming developments

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

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

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

The unforeseen

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

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

Dead men do tell tales

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

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

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

Be true to oneself

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

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

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

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Newscenter - Online reputation management for physicians

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

So, What Can You Do?

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


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


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


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


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

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5 Tips for Improving Your LinkedIn Profile - CompHealth

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

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


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


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

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Google+ for Physicians: A Free Tool for Reputation Management

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

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


Doctor review websites


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


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


How does Social Media Fit into Healthcare?


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

Building a Social Media Voice


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


Doctor on twitter


What about Referrals?


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


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


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


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


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


Conclusion


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

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Six Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction Scores

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

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

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


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

• Compliant patients are healthier patients;

• Healthier patients are less expensive; so

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

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


What's being measured?


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

• Timely appointments

• Timely care (refills, callbacks, etc.)

• Your communication skills

• What your patient thinks about you

• What your patient thinks about your staff

• Your office running on schedule

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


1. Hire sunshine.


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


2. Start on time.


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


3. Set patient expectations.


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


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

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


4. Listen with your eyes.


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


5. Put your staff in their place.


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


6. Monkey see, monkey do.


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


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

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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.


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Responding to Negative Online Patient Reviews: 7 Tips

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

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

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

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

Here are seven tips for responding online to negative reviews:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Online Patient Engagement Requires Practice Buy-In

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Collaborate or Compete With Retail-Based Clinics?

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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