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Infographic: Educating parents about congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the U.S.

According to this infographic:

  • Some 40,000 children are born with a CHD each year.

  • CHDs are the No. 1 leading cause of deaths related to birth defects.

  • One-third of kids born with a CHD require a life-saving treatment before their first birthday.

  • There are no known causes of congenital birth defects, but alcohol, some prescription drugs and a father’s exposure to pesticides could be contributing factors.

That’s important information for OB/GYN and pediatrics practitioners.

(View larger image)


Moving to Spain? Think about healthcare!

This animated video from the Department of Health and the British Embassy in Madrid gives official advice to British Nationals thinking of moving to Spain on…

The Latest Data About Online Reviews

Today, more American consumers than ever are writing and using online reviews to shop for doctors, dentists, veterinarians and physical therapists. In fact, the latest statistics show dramatic increases in the use of online reviews. In 2013, Software Advice, a practice management systems research group, published the results of a survey they conducted in an effort to learn more about how patients use online reviews. This year, they updated their findings.

The most recent Software Advice survey, which sampled 4,620 patients throughout the United States, revealed that the number of patients using online reviews jumped a whopping 68 percent between 2013 and 2014. The actual percentage of all patients who use online reviews rose to 42 percent.

Significantly More Patients Now Using Online Reviews

One of the most important findings from the survey is that significantly more patients are using online reviews, year over year. In 2013, just 25 percent of survey respondents said they had used online reviews. In a 2012 University of Michigan survey, only 22 percent of patients had used online reviews.

Patients typically consult online reviews prior to choosing a doctor, dentist, veterinarian or physical therapist. The survey found that 61 percent of patients consult reviews first before they decide on a practice. And 20 percent of patients say they also use online reviews to evaluate their current doctors.

Since the current healthcare climate in the United States is more patient-centric than ever, there is also more emphasis on the patient as a healthcare consumer. Your current and new patients might be using online reviews to evaluate your performance. So having a positive presence on review sites such as Yelp and HealthGrades will help you attract and retain patients.

Quality of Care Remains Most Valuable Criteria

Another trend revealed in the most recent survey concerns what patients value most in a healthcare practice. For the second year, quality of care is what patients value most. Nearly half of the respondents cited quality of care, followed closely by patient rating scores (45 percent) and the overall patient experience (40 percent). On the flip side, patients in the survey considered practice demographics, the appearance of the doctor’s office and time spent waiting to see the doctor as far less important criteria for selecting a practice.

Patients Willing to Go Out-of-Network

Significantly, nearly half of the survey respondents said they would consider going out-of-network to see a doctor with better reviews than their in-network doctor. In 2013, only a quarter of respondents said they’d be willing to go out-of-network due to more favorable reviews. This shift appears to reflect a growing reliance on online physician reviews by patients selecting a healthcare provider.

Choosing an out-of-network doctor can be a major inconvenience to a patient. It can lead to increased out-of-pocket expenses, more time and effort to change insurance providers and uncertainty about fees and coverage. So the fact that nearly half of the survey respondents would consider changing doctors based on online patient reviews suggests the major (and still growing) role that online reviews now play in a patient’s decision-making process.


Having positive online patient reviews is not only desirable for physicians, dentists, veterinarians, physical therapists and other healthcare providers but may soon become a necessity for attracting and retaining patients, particularly as healthcare becomes increasingly more patient-focused.

The best advice is for healthcare providers to focus on improving their quality of care with improved diagnostic accuracy and listening skills. That’s currently the best way to ensure a greater number of positive reviews, which will attract more patients – and more of the patients you want in your practice.

If you wish to comment on this electronic newsletter’s content or subject matter, simply email the editor:

To see all the data and charts in the Software Advice survey report, please click on this link: (

Medical, Dental Practice Marketing

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This Entrepreneur Raised $2M With A Five Slide Presentation – About Nothing

He may sound crazy, but there’s a method to his madness. Itay Adam is already well-funded and staffed to create ‘the next big thing.’ All that remains is to come up with an idea. On a memorable episode of the hit 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld,” NBC executives meet Jerry after his nightclub act and ask him to come up with an idea for a TV series. His friend George decides he can be a sitcom writer and comes up with the idea of it being “a show about nothing,” and it worked! Run with it. Most popular stories

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Eric Shinseki “mad as hell” about Veterans Affairs healthcare problems

Eric Shinseki

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki testifies before a Senate panel on the problems plaguing VA healthcare centers.

The Latest News About Online Patient Reviews

Today’s healthcare environment is putting individual patients and quality of care at the center of the American health universe. New payment models are rewarding value and quality over volume. And patients are acting more like traditional consumers and relishing their new role as empowered consumers. Increasingly, they are turning to online physician reviews to gather information about doctors before choosing their providers.

Patients are more likely than ever to use online reviews as their first step in searching for a new doctor. Patients are most interested in information related to the accuracy of diagnoses, the practitioner’s years of experience and typical wait times in the office. According to one recent survey, is the most popular online review site, and is the most trusted.

The survey cited Healthgrades as the most commonly used review site, with 43 percent of patients making it their first choice. Yelp was cited as the second-most popular, with 34 percent of users calling it their first choice. When it came to trustworthiness, however, patients preferred Yelp over Healthgrades 44 percent to 31 percent. This is somewhat surprising considering that Yelp users review many businesses outside healthcare, while Healthgrades has predominantly healthcare reviews.

More patients shopping healthcare using online reviews

More than 60 percent of patients now use online reviews to find new healthcare providers. With so many patients using online reviews to identify new doctors, dentists, physical therapists and other providers, patient review sites are rapidly becoming a great outlet for healthcare practice marketing. Online review sites will help you attract patients who might never find you otherwise.

Patients’ most important search criteria

Today’s online patients are most interested in quality of care, with nearly half of those surveyed ranking it among their most important considerations when choosing a healthcare provider. Closely related to the quality of care issue was the overall star ratings given by patients on review sites. Nearly 40 percent of the survey respondents ranked patient ratings as most important.

Also high on the patients’ wish list was the accuracy of diagnoses, with 46 percent of survey respondents citing it as their most important selection criteria. In terms of demographic information about practitioners, patients surveyed said they care most about your years of experience (37 percent) and board certification (27 percent). Patients care far less about your age, specific academic background or gender. If you are targeting older adult patients, however, do promote your academic background in your online profiles because patients aged 55 and older cited it as their most important selection criteria.

Surprise! Patients don’t like being kept waiting

When it comes to the administrative part of healthcare practices, one-third of patients cited waiting times as important, followed by billing or payment issues. The friendliness of your staff was cited as most important to 19 percent of patients. So if you really want to attract new patients, you would be wise to shorten wait times. If you typically run on time, ask patients to comment on the short waits in their online reviews of your practice.

Another surprise revealed by the survey was patients’ feelings about insurance coverage. More than one-quarter of patients said they’d be willing to go out-of-network in order to see a doctor with better reviews. In an environment where insurance coverage is so critical, this finding reveals the importance patients are placing on reviews from other patients.

Advice for healthcare practitioners

Make sure you are listed on both Healthgrades and Yelp. Make sure your profiles on those sites contain accurate information. With so many patients turning to those two online review sites to research doctors, dentists and other providers, you can’t afford to ignore Healthgrades and Yelp.

Check online review sites to see if they list your practice. If they don’t, you should create a listing and profile. This is often free. Make sure all the information about your practice is up-to-date and highlights your experience and certifications. If you are a younger practitioner, showcase your certifications, diagnostic capabilities and short waiting times.

And last but not least, get in the habit of asking your most satisfied patients to post reviews on Healthgrades and Yelp first.

If you need more detailed information about online reviews and best practices, talk to Practice Builders. Simply call one of our seasoned marketing consultants at 800.679.1200 or email

Your feedback is always welcome

If you have questions or comments about this newsletter, please email them to:

Medical Practice Strategies

A story about how to celebrate employees who work

There I was, just out of college. I’d been hired at a brand-new hospital and now, I was managing my first department.


I knew that leading my new team (some of whom had 20+ years of experience) wouldn’t be easy, but I was up for the challenge. However, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for –

Oh, let’s call him “Tony.”

Tony’s main duty was to valet patient cars, with plenty of customer service thrown in for good measure. I’m happy to say he did great job with our patients.

It was just too bad that he couldn’t seem to get to work on time.

While the other employees would show up ten or fifteen minutes early, Tony was consistently late. Usually, he would arrive at least thirty minutes after his shift should have started, and sometimes even later.

But I knew exactly what to do. I just needed to sit down with Tony, one-on-one, and tell him to come to work on time. After all, he seemed like a reasonable person. He would understand that his consistent tardiness affected not only our patients, but also the rest of our team. Surely, a quick chat would be enough to solve this issue.

But it wasn’t.

And despite speaking with Tony multiple times, we soon found ourselves on the performance-improvement path. I shared the challenges with my supervisors and asked for their advice. What, I asked, could I do next?

“Well, why don’t you give him a wake-up call every morning so he doesn’t oversleep?” suggested the CEO.

“That would be nice, huh?” I chuckled, thinking he was kidding.

“And then maybe give him a latte from the café when he gets in. Motivate him to come in on time!” the COO added.

I realized they were serious and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Were they actually suggesting I “motivate” an employee to show up on time? I struggled to make sense of their logic.

So, I was supposed to reward an employee for showing up to work on time—something that, in my book, is just part of doing (and keeping) your job. Meanwhile, my other employees were performing just as well (or better) than Tony. Where was their reward?

“Emily,” said the CEO, “those other employees are doing fine. Don’t worry about them. Right now, you need to focus on fixing your problems.”

As faulty as their thinking was, it’s unfortunately not all that uncommon. Often, we grease the squeaky wheel by focusing our efforts on problem employees. But, with that comes an unfortunate side-effect: We take our high-performing employees for granted, simply assuming they’ll continue to live up to their reputation for being reliable, trustworthy and dependable.

But talk about an employee engagement nightmare! High-performing employees are engaged employees, but how can we expect high-performers to stay committed to your organization and its goals if poor-performers are the ones “earning” all the perks?

There’s nothing more demotivating than seeing a poor-performing coworker get rewarded for sub-par behavior. With Tony, I was encouraged to give him preferential treatment with wake-up calls and lattes. But poor-performers can be rewarded in other ways—for example, by getting easier assignments or less work overall, because of their inability to fulfill their duties. This undermines standards and sets up an organization to deteriorate over time.

And, more immediately, it leads high-performing employees to look for opportunities elsewhere.

When someone like Tony (who admitted to being late simply because he didn’t like getting up early) gets special treatment, it sends a strong, negative message to all of your employees.

Long story short, that position wasn’t a good fit for me for many reasons. But, frustrating as the experience was, it helped cement my management philosophy:

Celebrate your good employees and never, ever take them for granted.

Don’t let problem employees shift your priorities and standards. We shouldn’t give the Tonys of the world a latte for simply showing up on time. Instead, let’s reward our high performers for their incredible service–they’ve definitely earned that latte!

What are some things you’ve done to reward high-performing employees?

This blog originally appeared here.

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