Archive for January, 2010

How Some Physicians are Using Facebook.

January 27, 2010

I was flipping through my wall updates on Facebook yesterday and came across one that really caught my eye. It was from a pediatrician at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center. Her status simply said that she was grateful for patient patients because it’s been a busy sick season.

I am pretty sure we’ve all sat and waited and waited and waited to see a physician before. But it was really nice to see that she knows people are waiting to see her.

Along the same line, Debra received a thread from a physician practice in Vidalia, Georgia last week. One of their staff members used Facebook to ask patients what they wanted from their physician practice. In a matter of hours, they received about 20 responses. Most of the patients said they didn’t mind waiting but wanted staff and physicians to treat them nicely and respectfully. That’s a pretty inexpensive fix.

So what’s the takeaway?

A Facebook fan page for a medical practice can be a great way for physicians to take a pulse on patient satisfaction. Or to simply say I’m sorry there’s been a wait lately. What other ways is your medical practice or hospital utilizing Facebook?

Consumers on hospital employed physicians

January 15, 2010

Consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers projects hospitals’ acquisition of physician groups to be one of the major health care trends to watch in 2010.  There’s no doubt health systems are ramping up their efforts to hire/acquire physicians to better serve their markets, protect patient flow, and control costs. 

Question is, what do consumers think about that?  When we explored the issue in our Pulse360 consumer survey, 17.9 percent of southeastern women interviewed said they “strongly prefer” privately owned physician practices to hospital owned practices.  Another 26.4 percent said they “moderately prefer” privately owned practices.  A little over half (52.6%) said they didn’t care.

Consumers preferred private practice physicians because they feared hospital-employed doctors could be controlled by the hospital or otherwise be biased in favor of the hospital.  Most said it wouldn’t impact their confidence in or choice of a physician, but 14 percent said they would lack confidence in their doctor’s referral to a hospital that employed him or her. 

Consumers also felt private practice docs would provide better personal care and attention, but thought hospital owned practices had better technology, were accountable to someone and were managed more efficiently. 

So, what does this mean?  Well, even though most consumers say practice ownership won’t affect their choices, hospitals should be sensitive to the issue, knowing some consumers may question a referral.  Hospitals should also work with employed physicians and their staffs to improve the patient experience while promoting the perceived advantages such as technology.

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