Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Physician, Google Thyself* Part I November 11, 2011

[Republished 11/11/11 to expand on an excellent post from Doximity Advisory Doard memberBryan Vartabedian, MD, is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospitaland blogs at 33 charts]

This is the first in a set of posts designed to educate physicians on how their names are being displayed. The education should lead to an evaluation of their current situation and motivation for them to execute basic activities to manage their reputation on-line. Physician Google Thyself Webinar Video on Blip.TV

EDUCATE:

Excellent reputations spread via word of mouth (WOM) has been and is still the most valuable “referral” marketing tool for any physician’s practice. WOM reputations are spread from health care professionals and the family and friends of patients [1].

The transmission vehicle for WOM referral marketing has changed substantially with the widespread availability of the Internet. Rating and reviewing services for restaurants, dry cleaners, hair stylists and other service-based businesses have popped-up all over the Internet (e.g. Yelp). The ability to review service-based business has been added to map and phone directory listings and these reviews are displayed in search engine results (e.g. Google Maps displays reviews from InsiderPages and Yahoo Local).

In addition to general rating services, there are dozens of health care professional directories. These directories purchase lists from medical associations, state licensing boards, and other data aggregators. Clinical specialty organizations (e.g. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) also publish physician locator services as a benefit of society membership (here’s a directory of directories from MedlinePlus). Healthcare systems, hospitals and insurance companies also maintain on-line directories of service providers in their networks.

The latest entries the internet community are the social media platforms—FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, et Al. These new platforms provide patients with a “global soapbox” on which to tell their story and spread it electronically.

The challenge for health care providers is the lack of control of the content on these services and platforms. Of special concern is the protection of personal health information (PHI) defined by health care privacy laws (HIPAA) [2].

With the current marketing craze around social media, what is a trained health care professional to do? Being aware and managing your on-line reputation is mission critical to maintaining and growing your practice.

Next Up:  Evaluate your situation

Physician Google Thyself Webinar Video on Blip.TV

(C) 2010 eGold Solutions

*************

*Thanks Elizabeth Cooney for the great post title (July 08); great minds think alike.

[1] http://www.hschange.com/CONTENT/1028/1028.pdf

[2] http://mamedicallaw.com/blog/2009/10/19/social-networking-101-for-physicians/

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Physician, Google Thyself* Part IV April 23, 2010

This is the fourth in a set of posts designed to educate physicians on how their names are being displayed. The education should lead to an evaluation of their current situation and motivation for them to execute basic activities to manage their reputation on-line. Physician Google Thyself Webinar Video on Blip.TV

ENGAGE:

So now you might be asking, “What if someone gives me a low rating or posts an unfavorable review?”

In Barb’s recent post about crisis communications she outlines the importance of actions over words and considering we are talking about health care, it couldn’t be more true.

Is a single bad review a crisis? Let’s put it into perspective using the two primary tenants of social media–authenticity and transparency.

Authenticity:

Is every patient’s symptom/condition easy to treat? Are you a perfect fit for every patient? No, of course not. If someone decides that their experience with your practice was not perfect and they decide to tell the world, that’s their first amendment choice (note: they are breaking their confidentiality on the Internet, not a very smart move from a privacy perspective). Please don’t let one disgruntled patient post discourage you from actively managing your reputation.

Transparency:

If they have a legitimate issue with their experience especially on a “logistical” level (e.g. appointment SNAFU, staff having an off day) then it is worth engaging, privately. If it is a post in an open review field, you could, with full transparency, you post something like:

“Thank you for your honest feedback. Our practice would like to resolve your issue and because of HIPAA privacy laws we are bound to do it privately, please contact XYZ person at our office ASAP. We look forward to hearing from you and correcting our processes to better serve all our patients.”

Best Antidote:

Getting more perspectives–providing lots of good ratings and reviews. Ask your patients to engage on the directories, forums, social networks that have an accurate profile of you (all the stuff you did in Part III). I’d recommend printing a list of rating and review services on the back of your practice business card and handing to especially satisfied patients. Here’s an example from Dr.  Score.** Here’s a post by physician blogger KevinMD from January 2010 which echos this strategy.

A Special Note About Managing Social Media Platforms:

This is an exploding issue that is worth addressing. I will again reference this excellent blog post from Eric T. Berkman from Mass Medical Law Report October 19, 2009. Their first recommendation is to not “friend” patients. I will add by saying if you want to keep a personal presence on social media platforms do so with a strict policy to not connect with patients. You can respond to anyone with a simple message:

“Thank you for your invitation. I value all my relationships highly especially those with patients who have selected me as their health care provider. Due to HIPAA privacy laws, I have decided to decline friend invitations from all my patients. Thank you for understanding.”

Note: setting up a profile for your practice is a good idea if you have a social media strategy as part of your practice marketing plan, but that’s a topic for another day.

Professional networks are very important. Health care professional forums that allow you to keep up with classmates and colleagues is mission critical for managing any successful career.  Linked In is one of the most popular business social networks. Although I am inclined to recommend extending the above policy to patients, I recognize that many patients may start out as professionals in your career network and vice versa. In those cases, I believe as long as you can keep any on-line conversation strictly away from their personal health care issues then linking to them is likely to be a good idea.  If someone unintentionally crosses the line, then use a variation of the above paragraph as a gentle reminder:

“Nice to hear from you. I value all my relationships highly especially those with patients who have selected me as their provider. Due to HIPAA privacy laws, I can not answer your question here. Please contact my office at xxx-xxxx and make an appointment so we can address your health care issue. Thank you for understanding.”

Lessons learned:

  1. You already have a presence on the Internet and you have some control on how you are displayed.
  2. You are motivated to be proactive in increasing traffic to your practice website (or are now convinced you need a site or make improvements).
  3. You’ve made some policy decisions on how to manage social media invitations.
  4. You are not afraid if something bad gets posted because you will a) know about it and b) have a process for managing the situation.

Summary:

Providing quality primary or specialty health care services has always been competitive and health care reform will make it even more so in the coming years. I hope this series has provided you with some knowledge, motivation and peace of mind to efficiently and effectively manage your on-line reputation.

Next: March 2011 Update

Physician Google Thyself Webinar Video on Blip.TV

(C) 2010 eGold Solutions

*************

*Thanks Elizabeth Cooney for the great post title (July 08); great minds think alike.

**Disclosure: There are several customer satisfaction survey tools available and www.DrScore.com is one I am familiar with from my corporate work. In 2007 I constructed a pilot corporate program to measure customer satisfaction amongst a subset of customers in a given specialty. The survey instrument is available in English and Spanish and recently was recognized by ARHQ as a valid tool in measuring patient satisfaction.  Purchasing reports is very affordable at $149 per physician per year.

 

Physician, Google Thyself* Part III April 22, 2010

Image credit: (c) Adam Hart-Davis

This is the third in a set of posts designed to educate physicians on how their names are being displayed. The education should lead to an evaluation of their current situation and motivation for them to execute basic activities to manage their reputation on-line. Physician Google Thyself Webinar Video on Blip.TV

EXECUTE:

Developing a manageable solution is the goal of this post. By the end, you will create legitimate links to drive traffic to your practice website** which is, of course, designed to capture new patients for your practice. Remember:

In Part I where you learned about the myriad of review sites, directories and social networks?

In Part II where you learned how Google works? (Go ahead, take the time read (or reread) the bottom half of this page in particular.

Now put the two pieces together to create legitimate links back to your website which is an important part of the search ranking algorithm. Click on each of the search results you evaluated and determine how much control you have over your listing then insert as much of your standard profile content as possible.

Profile types:

  • Hospital, medical center and academic centers where you have privileges (email to webmaster@)
  • Insurance carriers you accept (email to webmaster@)
  • Clinical associations and societies (check your membership account)
  • Medical Companies that list you as having completed specialized procedure training (email to webmaster@)
  • Health care provider directories (sign up for free account)
  • Rating and review services (sign up for free account)
  • Social media platforms in which you participate (log in and passwords)

Information to standardize:

  • First Name (nickname if applicable), Middle Name/Initial, Last Name, Suffix, Degrees, Certifications
  • Photo: Yes its important. It better be a current image; no bait and switch of your younger self (age equals experience and patients look at the number of years in practice so you won’t fool anyone).
  • Address: provide accurate information so map programs can provide fool-proof directions to your precise location.
  • Have multiple locations? Don’t forget to provide a typical schedule of when you see patients at each location.
  • Phone/Fax numbers: Here’s where you can get creative on return on investment analysis. If you have more then one incoming phone (must roll over to the main line connected to your answering service) consider posting special numbers if you decide to pay for enhanced listings. Check your phone bill each month and count the number of times each line is being used.
  • Link all profiles to your practice website**
  • Clinical Association Affiliations
  • Hospital/Medical Center Affiliations
  • Education/University Affiliations

Monitoring

  • I’ve built a tabbed spreadsheet in MS-Excel to help you get started; please contact me to receive a FREE electronic copy.
  • Keep a log of each site you touch, especially if you decide to purchase low-cost display enhancements.
  • Consider using an free on-line manager (e.g. Keypass) for the LogOn and Password information.
  • Set Google Alerts
  • Present your results with Visiblity on your profile page on your website and/or LinkedIn profile (you have one of those right?)
  • Set a calendar notice to review the searches from Part II to see how they change over time

Congratulations now you have taken control of your on line reputation!

Next: What to do if something bad gets posted…

Physician Google Thyself Webinar Video on Blip.TV

(C) 2010 eGold Solutions

*************

*Thanks Elizabeth Cooney for the great post title (July 08); great minds think alike.

**Disclosure: You have DO have a website representing your practice, right? If not, don’t panic there are many medical website designers with a variety of template and custom solutions. Here’s a supplier exclusive to the health care industry with a nice “teach them how to fish” philosophy. I’ve become familiar with the services of  Practis, Inc. through my consulting roles as a program manager and developing new business.

 

Physician, Google Thyself* Part II April 21, 2010

This is the second in a set of posts designed to educate physicians on how their names are being displayed. The education should lead to an evaluation of their current situation and motivation for them to execute basic activities to manage their reputation on-line. Physician Google Thyself Webinar Video on Blip.TV

EVALUATE:

Nervous? Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? Relax, this post is about getting started by pulling your head out of the sand.

To pull your head out we need to start by answering this common question:  “How do I get to be #1 on Google?” That question is like asking “how long is a piece of string?” because the answer depends on what search terms are put into the engine (see suggestions below) and how that engine has mapped relevant pages.

Here’s a nice article on how search engines work and another on Google specifically. Feel free to read them now and come back so that the next section makes more sense.

Welcome back. Now it’s time to pull your head out to search, bookmark and evaluate so to be aware of your surroundings.

1. Search Suggestions: keyword terms to type into all three primary search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing):

Tip: Start with Google and make an appointment with yourself to follow up with another round on Yahoo and Bing on a different day. I would hate for your newly emerged-from-the-sand head to explode when you see overlapping results.

  • Your name with and without degree (MD, DO, FACOG)
  • Your name with degree + your geography
  • Your practice name with and without your geography (you might find other practices with same name in another geography)
  • Your specialty (e.g. ENT, Ear Nose Throat, otolaryangology) + your geography
  • Symptoms (e.g. heavy bleeding) + your geography
  • Conditions (e.g. sinus problems, fibroids) + your geography
  • Unbranded treatments (e.g. hysterectomy) + your geography
  • Branded treatments (e.g. Balloon Sinuplasty) + your geography

Geography: Adding geographic keywords is important (area, city, county–whatever makes sense). Once a patient educates them self on their symptom, condition and treatment options, they are going to look for health care providers geographically closest to them.

Terminology: A trained health care provider knows the official technical terms for your specialty and the symptoms, conditions and treatments available. I beg you to think like a patient and pay attention to the words they use during appointments. If you want to get an idea of what keywords patients are using with high frequency, consider using this free tool from WordTracker.

 

2. Actions: For each of the above searches

  • Bookmark results for future reference (consider setting up a Delicious account so you can access from any Internet-enabled computer)
  • Review the first 30 results
    • Figure out who are the other people that share your name (BTW: thank your parents if your name is unique)
    • Notice how your name and practice are represented on the various listing services and make sure it is accurate
    • Honestly decide if you think a patient will select you based on how the information is displayed
    • Determine how to make changes to your profile for free (e.g. for Vitals start with this physician profile update page). Usually there are some ways to enhance your profile for a small investment; use your best judgment.

Congratulations on pulling your head out of the sand; you are now aware of where you stand today.

Next Up:  Execute a manageable solution

Physician Google Thyself Webinar Video on Blip.TV

(C) 2010 eGold Solutions

******************

*Thanks Elizabeth Cooney for the great post title (July 08); great minds think alike.

 

She Who Must Be Obeyed February 11, 2010

Illustration by J. Howard Miller for Westinghouse

Horace Rumpole, the lead character in the British television series Rumpole of the Bailey, secretly refers to his wife Hilda as ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed.’ Hilda is considered formidable, thus the tongue-in-check endearment. The definition of She Who Must Be Obeyed, abbreviated to the acronym SWMBO, is a woman in authority’. The character Hilda could be easily considered the poster person for this title.

Companies promoting new healthcare solutions – products and services, would be ahead of the curve if they recognized that women hold collective membership in the SWMBO sorority. Women are formidable in their pursuit of answers to problems or healthcare concerns, particularly so in the management of their families health and welfare.

In a recently survey conducted in 2009 and published by the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, the use health information technology (HIT) in U.S. households was assessed. Some of the findings include:

  • 61 percent of the sample used the internet to search for health or medical information
  • Women are more likely than men – 58% vs. 43.4%, to look for health information on the internet
  • Women are more likely than men – 4.1% vs. 2.5%, to access online chat groups to learn about health topics
  • Women are more likely than men – 6.6% vs. 5.2%, to request a prescription refill on the internet
  • Women are more likely than men – 3.5% vs. 1.8%, to make an appointment using the internet
  • Women are more likely than men – 5.6% vs. 4.2%, to communicate with a health care provider over email

The findings of this survey indicate women are actively seeking information, interaction and resolution to health care issues, using online means to do so, much more than men.  The survey summary can be found here[1].

There are a few companies that recognize women customers control the success of their products. These are companies that market and distribute women specific products such as contraception, breast care, and incontinence treatments. Some of these companies make the effort to connect with women customers by directing communications to them, providing information about products and identifying resources that may be useful in their search for solutions.

Women respond to these overtures by sharing their experiences, out loud – with other women.  This sharing includes discussions about anything and everything related to the product experience – credibility of the information about the product, the availability of the product, access to the product, interaction with the medical provider of the product, and so on. Nothing is off limits. Women take the lead in the discussions, just as energetically as they investigated the products before they purchased or were prescribed them.

In a 2008 survey conducted by Burst Media, women were identified as heavy users of health related forums, blogs and other websites when searching for information about a problem. The summary states “They [women] tend to be more proactive than their male counterparts seeking out family healthcare solutions as well as personal ones.” More of the findings can be found on the BizReport.com site, here[2].

Women search and research healthcare concerns. Women lead the charge for treatment and care of healthcare concerns. Women seek resolutions for their families as well as themselves. The road to reaching the consumer dealing with a health concern is typically traveled by a woman. She may be the wife, mother, daughter or friend of someone who needs help or answers for that which they suffer.

I know these descriptions of women and their pursuit of information and solutions to be true. I experienced these activities first hand marketing women’s healthcare products. I am also a daughter, aunt, godmother, sister, partner and friend of many, for whom I have done the same. I have gathered information from far and wide, and then armed with it I have navigated and negotiated the best available solutions for many a healthcare concern.  We women are resolute and formidable.

Companies that want potential patients to request their products, would benefit from remembering there is quite likely a woman in the mix, looking for answers for the patient. It is not just women specific products that women research. Any product or service that is intended for a patient, will be subject to review if relevant to someone they care about. Developing a well-planned strategy and communication plan, that takes into consideration how and where women go to get answers, makes good sense.

The declaration that ‘women rule the world’ may be ever-so-slightly premature at this point; however, if a direct path to the right patient is desired by a manufacturer, making it easy for her to gather information and access the product is strongly advised. Crafting a strategy that submits information and resources at her fingertips is the best way to enlist She Who Must Be Obeyed.


[1] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/healthinfo2009/healthinfo2009.htm

[2] http://www.bizreport.com/2008/07/women_rely_on_internet_for_health_information.html

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

 
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