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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Did you know that Long Patient Wait Times Costs You?

Did you know that Long Patient Wait Times Costs You? | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Patience is a virtue, but patients don’t always feel the need to practice it. And that makes sense; as more practices offer shorter wait times and more one-on-one time with the doctor, why would they want to put up with long patient wait times?

Attitudes towards patient wait times are changing

If you’ve worked in the healthcare field for quite a while, you’ve probably heard the term “healthcare consumerism.” While the term encompasses many different things, the big idea is that patients expect their healthcare experience to be more like a customer service experience.

 

This retail mindset means patients are no longer willing to put up with long wait times at the doctor’s office—just as they wouldn’t wait a half-hour in line at the store to buy an item.

Reasons for shifting patient attitudes

The truth is that patients have never enjoyed long wait times in the office. In many cases, they simply accepted it as the norm.

 

While some offices have always attempted to streamline processes, we all know that practices and hospitals have a reputation for scheduling appointments that rarely begin on time.

 

So what’s different now? Patients have become empowered to take control of the situation. They know that there are other options out there. And while they may not be able to turn back the clock and choose another office, they can prevent other people from making the same mistake.

Your reputation is on the line

Wouldn’t it be great if a doctor or hospital’s reputation was based solely on their professional merits? Of course, you strive to provide the best level of healthcare you can. But in this day and age, that’s not enough to earn a strong patient referral.

 

And patient referrals are not just limited to someone’s family and friends. A recent Vitals study showed that healthcare facilities with long wait times tend to receive much poorer reviews than those with shorter waits.

 

The highest reviewed practices had average wait times of 13 minutes, while those receiving low star ratings had wait times of 34 minutes.

Patient reviews have greater reach than ever before

90% of patients have researched a doctor or hospital before visiting. Chances are high that most of your patients have looked you up online. They may have been pleased with your reviews, or they may have decided you were worth a shot despite them—but after a visit, they could change their mind.

 

This fact is not just limited to primary care. Even patients who receive a referral from another doctor are likely to research that referral online. And if they don’t like what they see, they may seek out a second option.

Your competition is changing

Depending on your area of specialty, the competition surrounding your practice or hospital is likely a lot different than it was just 10 or 15 years ago.

 

Primary care doctors and some other specialties are competing with urgent care clinics, including those in retail locations like a CVS. Urgent care clinics now compete with telehealth apps on mobile devices.

 

If you want to keep patients in your practice or hospital, you have to create an experience of care that keeps them coming back and is competitive with these modern healthcare environments.

Losing a patient is expensive

According to Vitals, 30% of patients have simply left a doctor’s office because they were dissatisfied with the wait time.

 

In some cases, the cost of acquiring a new patient can be a couple hundred dollars—worth it when you consider the lifetime value of that patient, but not if you lose them!

 

And when one patient leaves, you miss out on the opportunity for several more patients. This includes their family and friends and, of course, several people reading your negative reviews.

What can you do to reduce the wait?

It may be time for an audit of your systems and processes. Think about what you could do to really streamline appointments and make sure everyone is in and out in as little time as possible. Could you…

  • Automate check-ins or keep these online?
  • Keep better estimates of the amount of time needed for certain times of appointments?
  • Text patients when you’re running behind and allow them the option to reschedule?

 

Best of all, listen to your patients and their needs. Even if you fall behind in scheduling, your patients will appreciate transparency and your willingness to fix the issues over time.

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

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

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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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Marketing Your Practice Online

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

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

Not anymore.


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


Determining cost


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

Here are some examples to get your creative wheels turning:

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

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

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


• Where does your ideal patient hang out?


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

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

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


• What is the cost to reach your ideal patients?


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


• How will you stay in touch?


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

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


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3 Things Doctors Can Do to Connect With Patients

3 Things Doctors Can Do to Connect With Patients | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Patients have been coming into my office for several years telling me that they looked me up on the Internet and that I have great reviews. I always dismissed these comments, as I knew that these reviews were influenced by many factors and not necessarily accurate. Plus, the reviews were favorable so I gave it little thought. Eventually, I took the opportunity to Google myself and was amused by much of what I read. Patients often made strong statements about me without much evidence. Again, it was largely complimentary so I let things be.

Over time, it dawned on me that virtually every patient was looking me up. I went back to the Internet and tried to picture what I would think if I were a patient looking me up. I realized I was passively being defined, as opposed to actively defining my own image -- and the method of others defining me was often incomplete and arbitrary.

I decided to launch my own website so I could define my online image. I wanted to project what I believe in, and how I practice medicine so that patients who research me can more accurately see if my philosophy truly resonates with theirs.

Of course, it's not so easy. Just putting something out there doesn't assure that it will be what patients find when they search. More importantly, it got me thinking about the doctor/patient relationship. It is clear that patients want to connect with their doctors. Doctors, however, seem more ambivalent about making such a connection. To some doctors, it is as if forming a connection will somehow undermine the traditional relationship which is best kept as formal, paternalistic, and standoffish. We are running our practices the same way they were run 30 years ago. This is a terrible mistake.

I believe I can gain more by giving, learn more by listening, and influence more by connecting.

1. Doctors should focus on connecting with patients.
The world has changed. Most other businesses have changed. Every physician should have his or her own website which patients can easily access. If the physician boldly puts his or her personality and philosophy out there for scrutiny, there will be some who like what they see and some who don't, but the patients who make appointments and ultimately come in to the office will have more productive experiences.

2. Doctors should provide content.
Consumers want content when they do research. Consumers of health care are no different. The best way to advertise is not to yell about how great you are, but simply, to teach. Patients are attracted to content, and particularly, to how the content is presented. You don't have to tell consumers of your value, when you can provide them with content of value.

3. Doctors should embrace social media.
Most doctors pride themselves in getting patients from word-of-mouth. This has always been considered the most desirable method of growing a practice. But word-of-mouth is not as useful as it has been traditionally considered.

Think about researching a restaurant. What is more likely to draw you to a particular restaurant: hearing from several arbitrary people that it is great or not only hearing from these several arbitrary people, but hearing from some specific people who have a track record of making good suggestions about restaurants and also having access to the menu, the restaurant's philosophy on cleanliness and the rigor with which food is selected and procured?

Social media is more than simple word-of-mouth. It enables patients to access meaningful opinions, and then make informed decisions about doctors' practices. Social media gives physicians the opportunity to help empower patients. If a doctor does not embrace this burgeoning technology, his or her prospective patients will end up elsewhere.


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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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Marketing Your Practice Online

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

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

Not anymore.


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


Determining cost


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

Here are some examples to get your creative wheels turning:

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

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

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


• Where does your ideal patient hang out?


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


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


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


• What is the cost to reach your ideal patients?


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


• How will you stay in touch?


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

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

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Population Health Would be Easy, If it Wasn’t for Our Patients!

We get so caught up in our day to day work that we often forget what it is all about. We focus on the technology and clinical side of Population Health, but there is another aspect that is harder to control; Patient Compliance. One of the agenda items at a Physician Group Board meeting I attended included the dismissal of patients. These were primarily patients that had been abusive to staff or had failed to meet financial obligations, etc. On some occasions we had patients that failed to follow through on the provider orders and was placing their health at risk.

These situations are difficult. On one hand the provider cannot stand idle as they watch a patient ignore medical advice and jeopardize their health. On the other hand, you don’t want to leave the patient without medical options. These are often elderly patients that may not have a family member helping them navigate all the treatment decisions or translating the medications and therapies to layman terms. They are also patients that have a surgical procedure and fail to attend or complete physical therapy, severely affecting their range of motion or quality of life. Then there are also patients that are non-compliant with drug therapy or maybe they never scheduled the specialist referral.

Population Health will be tracking various provider metrics and could reflect if a patient is consistently showing non-compliance with prescribed therapies. This has the benefit of identifying those patients with certain special needs. These can include language barriers; help with navigating the healthcare system, or patients with transportation problems. There are also patients that can’t afford the deductibles, or co-pays associated with therapeutic treatment or medications. Some patients are either too proud or too uncomfortable talking to the providers about these issues.


In the physician group that I worked with, they had very solid policies and procedures with specific escalation points to deal with non-compliant patients. Often it only took a friendly letter to say that you are concerned about their health and maybe offer someone on staff to schedule their referral or go over the treatment options that were presented. Of course all the letters and policies had to have a legal review. You also had to have the information technology systems that tracked, flagged and even produced alerts to providers when someone missed appointments.

Population health cannot just include what we are doing on the clinical side, we must understand what unique issues our patients are having and help them make the right treatment decisions. Often these include an advocate or patient coordinator. However, sometimes it may also include a letter stating that they cannot continue to ignore medical advice. It is always an uncomfortable conversation for the staff and patients. However, it is at the core of the goals that we set for improving clinical outcomes.


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