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/

Advertisements
 

Practice Marketing is not Rocket Surgery October 17, 2010

Filed under: Debbie,DTC,Physician Preparation — Debbie Donovan @ 2:05 pm
Tags: , ,

[Oct 17, 2011: I just had to re-post after viewing the Hubspot capabilities video–they talk about marketing not being rocket surgery! I’ve consumed many of their helpful inbound marketing resources so check them out.]

There is a fascinating process that converts a consumer with a health problem into a patient whose symptoms have been successfully resolved. Reaching the consumer with the health problem your products can solve is a fun challenge for medical device companies. It’s not rocket surgery–which is to say it is not expensive or complicated.

Many a time the marketing department is told, “just put ads on TV and sales will take off like a rocket.” When considering Lisa’s 6 Criteria for DTC campaign readiness, points 1, 2, and 6 rely heavily on the health care professional trained to perform a branded medical procedure. The burning question is “Are your customers really ready to receive patients?” Here are ways to evaluate customer readiness:

  1. Does the staff understand which patient population will call and what questions they will ask to get more information about the health problem and product?
  2. Do the patients already in the practice know their doctor performs the branded procedure to resolve a health problem they may not have mentioned?
  3. Does the referral community know that their local specialist is trained to treat the health problem with the latest technology?

If all three questions can’t be answered with a solid yes, then there is work to be done at the local trained specialist point of care.  Preparations can and should be simple, inexpensive and easy to implement so there are no excuses for not completing the tasks.

Next up: Simple, inexpensive “must do’s” to prepare a practice for DTC/DTP.

(C) 2011 eGold Solutions; all rights reserved.

Related Information:

Hubspot’s capability video–they talk about rocket surgery

 

Importance of keeping practice websites current June 30, 2010

All Female Vs. All Male Medical Practices

In Trisha Torrey‘s second post about Men and Modesty she is advising consumers about how to choose physician practices that are staffed entirely by a single gender. This tidbit jumped off the screen:

“That begs the question — just how can you find the all-the-same-gender practices? Ask. When you need an appointment, call the office and ask about staffing. (A note here — the doctor’s website won’t help because you can’t be sure how current it is.)

A list of your staff with photographs becomes a differentiator when attracting modest patients of either gender. This is an interesting aspect to consider when putting together a website. It is also a strong reason to have the capability to make changes yourself so you can keep the site current to accurately represent your practice.

(c) 2010 eGold Solutions

Related Articles
 

Yes, Doctor, This IS a Business April 27, 2010

“Thank you for calling. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  We’re closed from noon to 2 p.m. for lunch. If you have reached this recording during normal business hours, please leave a message. We will get back to you by the next business day.”

That’s the message I keep getting when I try to schedule an appointment with one particular physician.  And I have left several messages with no response.

Under normal circumstances, I would have zero tolerance for this total lack of responsiveness and would simply have called another doctor. But in this case, I have already seen the physician for a particular injury, went through the trouble of getting an MRI and would really like to get the results.

Where’s the Disconnect?

Given the practice’s troubling habit of not responding, I should not have been surprised when I called again this morning only to learn that the phone number had been disconnected.

When will physicians really grasp that they are in business and that to stay in business, they need to start treating patients as their customers?  Ok, I understand that doctors went to medical school, not business school.  Still, somewhere in between anatomy and pharmaceuticals 101, were they not taught that private practice requires more than office space and a listing in the phone book?

Running a successful physician’s practice takes the skills and talents of multiple staff members, from the front desk person who answer the phones to the physicians and nurses who provide the clinical expertise.  The one thing each of these people has in common is their interaction with customers—the practice’s patients.

Basic Customer Service

There is much a physician can learn from studying the successful marketing and customer service standards of other businesses:

  • Return phone calls and emails promptly, and always within 24 hours
  • Provide continual staff training on customer service excellence and how to handle difficult customers in a professional and effective way
  • Provide multiple ways for customers to contact you including phone, email and website

These are a few of the simple fundamentals that physician practices must take seriously, especially in today’s tough economic climate where consumers are judicious in how they spend their money. Mastering the basics is also a prerequisite before a practice can effectively implement a marketing or public relations campaign.

For more information on practice marketing, refer to Lisa’s most recent post and Debbie’s post on ‘Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Science’.

 

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.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: