Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Important Considerations for Developing Physician Websites

April 2, 2014

A great website takes a lot of work to design, implement and maintain – and they are critical today. Your patients not only expect your practice to have one, but expect that the information they want and need will be there, whether it is a patient portal that enables them to schedule appointments, get a prescription refilled, check on lab and test results, pay their bill online or find office hours and locations.

A physician website should include:
• An up-to-date look and design that is visually attractive and compelling
• A site that is responsive so that it is easy to view on different devices
• Graphics and videos that are compatible and come up quickly (no Flash)
• A content management system (CMS) that allows you to make copy and photo changes
• Short, easy-to-grasp and grammatically correct content broken up by subheads and bullets that make it easy for healthcare consumers to scan the content (hint: no one reads long blocks of copy anymore)
• Information that is well organized and easy to find so that viewers don’t have to search for what they need
• Pages that load quickly – generally in two seconds or less
• Use of good search engine optimization (SEO) practices so that your site ranks higher on search engines and shows up earlier on pages – most consumers do not look beyond the first, and sometimes the second page, of search results
• The ability to work across different browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, Foxfire, etc.)

Today, your medical practice is judged not only by the health care you deliver, but also by your website. Most people initially research your site before they ever decide to make an appointment. And, while they are researching your practice, they are also researching others that offer the same services. It’s a given that they will compare your website to others to get a sense of what you offer and how information is presented.

The professionalism of your website and how it engages current and prospective patients is a reflection of your practice. Make it the front door that warmly welcomes patients.

Increase Hospital Reimbursements by Marketing to Reduce Costs

August 14, 2012

Medication ComplianceWith the shift of reimbursement payment practices, hospitals are looking at all options and best practices to improve quality care and reduce costs.

As marketers we can help increase revenue, but can we also help cut costs and improve care?  Sure we can. Many hospitals have already done this with hand washing campaigns that resulted in significant increases in compliance and reductions in infection rates.

 Another costly compliance issue involves patients and their prescription medication. I knew that medication compliance was a significant problem, but did not realize just how much until I saw the following numbers. A CVS Caremark study determined that medication adherence saved the healthcare system $1,200 – $8,000 per patient annually.  Unfortunately nearly 40% of insured people DON’T take their medication as prescribed.

Improving medication compliance won’t be easy and will probably require action from many public and private entities.  It does seem that hospital owned physician practices and hospitals could have a significant impact on this problem by providing educational materials, tools, and campaigns to their patients. A recent Health Research Institute study said that 57% of patients place a high value on education they receive during a visit . So they are primed for medical information, all you need to do is give it to them.  It may help them stay healthier, improve satisfaction levels and reduce readmissions.

Are you marketing medication adherence or other healthcare cost savings initiatives?  If so, I would love to hear about what you are doing.

 

How to make your hospital’s Facebook page the life of the party.

August 1, 2012

Facebook PartyFacebook, which is all about friends and their lives, is the epitome of social media. So think of running your hospital’s Facebook page as hosting a party for your friends. Invite people to join you and welcome newcomers. Strive to be a good host. Be a good conversationalist and never talk only about yourself. Go out of your way to provide refreshments and entertainment that will please the guests. Above all, be gracious and thankful to people who attend.

Know your guests and their likes and dislikes.

  • Pay attention to health and wellness topics that garner the most attention and comments. What topics flop? In the future weight your posts to the more popular topics. Think of your Facebook page as “Pandora” for healthcare in your community.

Cater to your friends. 

  • Share important community stories on your page.
  • Post important health information and observances.
  • Include information on events, new services or treatments you offer, staff recognition and other relevant information. Think of it as small talk. Try to present it in a way that invites conversation.

Be entertaining. 

  • Provide pictures and videos to supplement your post. A good visual can add spark to any topic. A physician explaining a disease or procedure on a video is a great way to educate people in a personable way.
  • Don’t drone on. Make your point short and sweet and when appropriate ask for feedback.
  • Party games can be fun, so use health quizzes and contests to interact with your audience.

Make it worth their time. 

  • Educate in a fun way. Be sure to provide helpful information – facts, event information, a good patient story, informative videos, recipes or helpful tips.

And in the end, thank people for coming.

  • Be sure to acknowledge your fans and the comments they make.

Follow these simple steps to be the host-ess with the most-est and watch your hospital’s Facebook likes and fan base grow.

Forget Strategy?

July 24, 2012

Recently, Advertising Age quoted the CEO of the global advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, as saying, “Strategy is dead… If you take the time to devise a strategy, the more time you are giving your rivals to start eating your lunch.”

Is he serious?  I fully realize we now live in a very fast-paced world and hesitation can be costly, but forget the strategy?  How do you get the tactics right without a strategy?  The fact is good strategic planning leads to better execution.

We’ve also found that the tighter the strategy, the better the creative product.  It certainly makes it easier to create good ideas.  With even a loose strategy, creativity becomes far more difficult.  With no strategy, it’s almost impossible.  

Lack of strategy usually leads to poor management of resources as well.  Tactics do not replace strategy; they follow it.  Today’s new media enables carefully targeted rifle shots.  Why would you want to use a shotgun?

Educating Patients is a Primary Need for Better Healthcare Access

June 27, 2012

We are all waiting to hear the Supreme Court’s decision on the health reform law (Affordable Care Act) this week. According to a recent Times article, “If it survives, about 93 percent of all non-elderly, legal U.S. residents will be covered by 2016. That’s up from 82 percent this year.” This translates to an additional 30 million people who will receive health insurance coverage.

Regardless of the outcome of the Affordable Care Act, there is a strong need to educate consumers on how to access and use the healthcare system. Research points out that recent changes in health insurance status for newly insured and newly uninsured adults are linked to greater emergency department use – not community health centers, family physicians or urgent care centers. An emergency department is truly one of the most inefficient options for people to use for non-emergent care. Providing health care in this forum ties up resources that can be better used, costs substantially more than care delivered in a lower acuity setting, and typically has much longer waiting times than other healthcare options.

Many Emergency Departments are now triaging patients as they enter the door. Some direct patients to other alternatives (at a lower co-pay) and some are using nurses to handle non-emergent problems. Signage and patient handouts can explain the reasons and the importance for doing this. Online videos are another option that many hospitals are using to explain where to properly seek care.

Once newly insured patients are aware of accessing other levels of care, an answer according to Robin Clarke, University of California, Los Angeles, may be the use of enabling services. These are non-medical services, typically delivered by primary care practices and community health centers, to help low-income patients access the healthcare system. These services address the social determinants of health care by helping patients figure out transportation to appointments, conducting case management assessments and performing community outreach and education activities.

Current research is being done to investigate how these patient-centered services will affect the delivery of health care to underserved patients. The results will affect not only the implementation, but also reimbursement. It will also impact how the patient-centered medical home concept will apply to the practices caring for these patients.

There are many other points of access to educate consumers. But, we need to make it a priority to do so.

This reminds me of the saying, “If we build it, they will come.” Unless we focus on education, they may come but never figure out how to use it.

Ding Dong! The King is Dead.

August 23, 2011

Finally! With sales nose-diving, Burger King is thankfully laying its king to rest. You know the one – with the oversized head and creepy look on his face. I mean who would want to rush into a Burger King knowing that ugly thing could be there.

For years, they tried unsuccessfully to make the king hip – the opposite of the very square Ronald McDonald. Admittedly, I’m far removed from the teen and 20-something males targeted by the campaign (including the naked chicken — can’t forget that one).

They finally discovered that in the fast food business, food matters, as does those aging facilities. Imagine that. I never understood how those tired, old stores could possibly be in synch with the advertising’s edginess. Never thought a Whopper was all that edgy, either.

Advertising, especially image campaigns, must make sense to the audience – and connect with them emotionally in a way that’s relevant to the product or service.

Just goes to show that tons of awards and many millions of dollars aren’t always the ingredients for success. I’ve always questioned our industry awarding failures. Too many award-winning campaigns have failed miserably in the marketplace. When they do that, how can they be considered award-winning? Isn’t that why we do it in the first place – to affect sales?

Be a man. Think like a kid.

June 9, 2011

Slipnslide

As a father of three boys, weekends are packed with activities. This leaves little time to take on house projects that need my attention. You know, dad stuff. Moving things, building stuff and fixing that which needs fixing. Recently I had on a weekend I made time to tackle one of those projects. I won’t bore you with the details, but I was outside. My sons naturally wanted to be outside as well. My two oldest sons, Johnathan and William, set up the slip-n-slide. Perfect outdoor fun for a warm spring afternoon.

Before I go on let me tell you about a lecture several years ago by the great Milton Glaser. He told a story about teaching his young grandson’s art class. As the co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Design Department, Glaser has experience with teaching but said he hadn’t ever taught young children. So, he simply asked the children to draw a tiger. He said the end result was some of the most interesting and creative tigers he had ever seen. Glaser wanted to see what up and coming artists would do with this same project so he gave it to one of his MFA classes at the School of Visual Arts. The result was a forty-five minute Q and A about the tiger. The masters students were overthinking the project and that was getting in the way of the creative.

Back to my backyard. As the boys were playing, I heard Johnathan suggest to William that they could somehow make the backyard into a water park. I was mildly curious so I asked Johnathan what he was planning. He said, “Dad we have two big slip-n-slides. What if we hooked them together?” My fatherly instincts began to kick in and I thought about all of the trouble that could be caused by two boys with access to multiple water sources. I also thought this is a project that needs my guidance and input. We need to think this through and mull it over. My wife Holly and I are trying to raise independent boys who do for themselves. So I thought of Milton Glaser and I told Johnathan, “Build us a water park.” Then I went back to my project curious to see the end result no matter how messy it might be.

Johnathan and William went to work moving hoses around and unrolling slip-n-slides. Within a half hour I heard the sound of my two boys running, sliding and laughing. Holly brought Mason, our five-month-old, to the back porch to watch his brothers. The boys had indeed connected two slip-n-slides together and placed them in the perfect part of the yard with a downhill slope. Our yard became a water park.

I find it interesting that children picture something in their in minds, then they try to make it happen. As adults, we define limitations and set up walls. Then we try to develop creative ideas. Very often, when the ideas are slow to come, we seek even more information in hopes that we will somehow see something magical in the paperwork like we’re reading tea leaves or tarot cards. When generating ideas, the knowledge and wisdom of adulthood too often is our greatest enemy. I think we should try thinking like a child. I know I could really use a water park in my backyard.

Overdose of Buzzwords

March 23, 2011

And, we call ourselves wordsmiths.

About a month ago, one PR strategist, Adam Sherk launched a study of 23 overused PR buzzwords utilizing PRFilter, a website that aggregates news releases. Later, PRFilter did a more extensive look at Sherk’s findings and discovered the number one overused buzzword in news releases, based on the number of uses in a 24-hour period, was “leading,” followed by “solutions.” The remaining 21 overused words are below, along with their incidence within 24 hours.

Assuming these news releases were written by professionals, it’s embarrassing. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m sure I’ve committed my share of these unpardonable sins over the years, but some of these words are so worn and meaningless, it’s hard to believe any professional would be caught using them today.

Ok, now I’m going back over this post and check for all the buzzwords that may have snuck in.

http://tinyurl.com/46t99nc

1. leading (776)
2. solution (622)
3. best (473)
4. innovate / innovative / innovator (452)
5. leader (410)
6. top (370)
7. unique (282)
8. great (245)
9. extensive (215)
10. leading provider (153)
11. exclusive (143)
12. premier (136)
13. flexible (119)
14. award winning / winner (106)
15. dynamic (95)
16. fastest (70)
17. smart (69)
18. state of the art (65)
19. cutting edge (54)
20. biggest (54)
21. easy to use (51)
22. largest (34)
23. real time (8)

We can start reforming health care by fighting obesity.

February 14, 2011

I’m sure you have read about Michelle Obama’s obesity campaign “Let’s Move” that promotes healthy choices regarding food and exercise for children. We all know this is a serious issue – about 2/3 of adults are overweight or obese and about 1/3 of our children are. 

There are a myriad of reasons for this. Let’s start with poor food choices, constant snacking and super-sized portions. It’s even been shown that school age children who eat school lunches are more prone to be obese than those who bring lunches from home. For the most part, our children spend their extra time watching television and playing video games – they don’t exercise.

 I must admit that I’ve read about these statistics and about the growing concerns associated with obesity, but my eyes really widened when I read an alarming article about how stroke rates are rising among children and younger adults. 

 According to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011, CDC analysts reported:

  • strokes in children 5 -14 years of age increased by 31% among boys and 36% among girls
  • in males 15 – 34 years old, rates increased by 51% and in females 15 to 34 years, it increased by 17%.

Although definitive links are unproven, it is suspected that obesity and hypertension are contributory factors.

To make matters even worse, at this same conference it was also reported that:

  • drinking diet soda daily is linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and vascular-related deaths
  • high salt intake may double the risk of ischemic stroke, independent of sodium’s role in hypertension.

So, in layman’s terms, those diet soft drinks and potato chips and French fries that so many of our children consume, are upping their potential risk for disease – in the near future rather than in their golden years.

Another recent study by researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, indicates that feeding an infant solid food before 4 months of age raises the child’s risk of becoming obese by the time they are toddlers.

Physicians and hospitals particularly see the fallout from obesity – diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular problems, etc.  As Lee Schwamm, MD, vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said, “If we don’t control traditional risk factors – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – we’re going to have a wave of cardiovascular disease in 10, 15, 20 years.”

 So, whether you agree politically or not with Mrs. Obama’s hoped-for-legacy, this is a wake up call for all of us as parents (and, yes, I know that many of you are already waging this battle with your children).

 The effort we put forth right now may very well save our children from early years of prescription usage, treatment by both physicians and hospitals and the ravaging effects of early onset of diabetes, heart disease, and even early stroke.

 So, I don’t know about you, but I think I will pass on the chocolates for myself and my son for Valentine’s Day.

Is Being the Closest Hospital Enough?

February 1, 2011

Travel around the country, especially in smaller communities, and it’s amazing how many community hospitals use little more than the selling point that they are close to home. Often, that or some form of it will be their tagline.

Our experience is that just isn’t enough. One, our research shows consumers know exactly where the closest hospital is, so telling them something they already know well isn’t likely to change their minds. More important, the more profitable consumers – the commercially insured – can and will drive for care they think will make a difference.

They not only want the care to be closer, they want to know it’s at least as good as, if not better than, what they’ll find at the larger facility 30 minutes or an hour away. In other words, convenience is not enough to keep them from making the drive.

Check out this very successful campaign we created for Meadows Regional Medical Center to turn the shorter distance into a life-saving selling proposition.


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