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Tag Archives: Patients

Infographic: 10 common diet traps your patients can avoid

One researcher calls new data on obesity in America “a wake-up call.”

The past 20 years have seen a startling spike in the number of overweight and obese people in the U.S. Highlights from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paint a dismal picture, one that can improve with the help of health care communicators, marketers and PR pros.

The CDC says around 70 percent of people age 25 and older are overweight or obese. That’s a jump from nearly 60 percent two decades ago.

The Washington Post says this marks the first time obese/overweight people outnumber those who maintain a healthy weight.

In rethinking your outreach efforts, consider the diet traps outlined in this infographic. Many of your patients probably experience these challenges as they battle the scale. You can encourage them to:

  • Eat three meals a day.

  • Pay attention to nutrition labels, especially calories, saturated fat and sodium.

  • Listen to their bodies and avoid emotional eating.

  • Exercise at least five days a week.

  • Ingest vitamins and minerals to boost energy levels.

  • Get back on track despite a splurge.

(View a larger image)

10-Common-Diet-Traps-Infographic

(Image via)

This article was first published in June 2016.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Jam-packed waiting rooms, busy schedules, longer wait times, doctors too stressed to listen to their patients — such feedback is common when we talk about healthcare practitioners.
However, what may come as a surprise to us is that these sentiments are conveyed by both doctors and patients. This is why many medical practitioners are seeking a solution called “concierge medicine.”

What exactly is a concierge practice?

In the hospitality industry, “concierge” means personalized service. For instance, we can request a hotel concierge to make lunch reservations for us and say thanks with a tip that can be paid before or after the services are rendered.

Similarly, in the medical world, concierge practice, also known as boutique practice or direct care, is about delivering personalized services, from a doctor to his or her patients. A concierge practice charges patients an annual fee in exchange for personalized and enhanced services that are usually not covered under insurance plans.

The patient pays an annual fee for personalized care, as defined by the physician. The personalized and enhanced medical services may include unlimited office visits, easier and quicker appointments, less waiting time, immediate access to the physician through a phone call, texting or email consultations, easy renewal of prescriptions, home visits and wellness services such as annual checkups. However, concierge practices vary widely in their structure, payment conditions and range of medical services covered.

According to research conducted by Concierge Medicine Today, more than 12,000 physicians in the U.S. operate concierge practices. Most concierge practices bill patients’ insurance for regular services and charge an additional annual fee for round-the-clock access to doctors, extended appointments and other services, such as house calls.

Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare search firm, conducted the 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians and revealed that a huge percentage of physicians are planning to pursue the concierge model. Some of the key findings from the survey are:

  • Seven percent of physicians are already practicing concierge medicine.
  • More than 13 percent of physicians plan to transition to concierge medicine at some point in their careers.
  • Younger physicians, aged 45 or younger, are more likely to consider concierge practice.
  • Physicians who convert to concierge from traditional practice can retain about 25 percent of their existing patients.

However, concierge practice is not a substitute for health insurance. The annual fee or retainer, no matter how expensive, does not cover out-of-office visits to specialists, ER, hospitalization, major surgery or high-end diagnostic scans. On top of that, patients’ insurance or Medicare does not reimburse the annual fee, while some of the cost may be covered by the patients’ health savings accounts.

Concierge medicine comes in many variations. In some concierge practices, patients pay an annual fee in addition to office visit fees; in others, the annual fee is inclusive of all in-office care. There is another option known as the hybrid practice, where the doctor continues to see all patients but schedules a few hours each day for patients who pay an extra fee.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Are you thinking of switching to concierge practice?

Physicians who switch to concierge practice say they do so because they were fed up with the assembly-line medicine and ever-rising overhead costs. The flat and reduced insurance reimbursements further fueled their decision to opt for a concierge practice. According to most physicians, the only way to keep afloat is to see many patients and spend less time with each one.

However, critics are of the opinion that if too many doctors choose concierge practice, we will be left with fewer doctors to go around, making it tough for patients to find a physician.

Critics have apprehensions about the impact of the concierge practice model on the health of patients. This is primarily because concierge practice works on the convenience side, and getting extensive consultation may not necessarily mean better care. Industry experts are of the view that concierge care may lead to overtreatment, which will not benefit the patient.

In case you are considering converting your traditional practice to a concierge care model, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Assess your existing patients: Is your current patient base looking for 24/7 Internet access? Will they prefer home visits? It is critical to understand which services will appeal to patients with this kind of arrangement. It is equally important to gauge which services and facilities patients will want to pay extra for. A patient survey will also help you evaluate patient loyalty. Are your patients emotionally attached to you and the practice? Will they follow you wherever you go and whichever new services you offer to them?
  • Create a package and fee structure: Your menu of services and fee structure will depend on your potential patients’ needs and their willingness to pay for premium-level care. You will need to put together a complete package — wellness package, weight management, exercise tips and comprehensive tests with everything from stress testing to a full body test. You may continue to see sick patients, but your focus will be toward preventive medicine. Later, based on your potential patient population, you can calculate what you need to charge to deliver excellent-quality services.
  • Create a schedule: Transitioning from a traditional practice to a concierge practice is labor-intensive. A realistic plan, complete with milestones and benchmarks, will help you keep things on track and maintain continuity.
  • Pay attention to legal issues: You will need to work with a reputed healthcare attorney who is familiar with the legal procedures and requirements for structuring a concierge-style practice.
  • Create promotional literature: In order to reach out to existing and potential patients, you will need to promote a new brand image that is consistent with the premium level of services you will be offering.
  • Have meetings with insurers: As a rule, health plans cannot stop physicians from opening concierge-style practices. Insurers will continue to cover contractually obligated office- and hospital-based services. Still, insurers are being careful. You must be prepared to share whatever promotional material you have and to make any reasonable changes.
  • Send an introductory letter to patients: Send a letter to your current patients explaining your transition from a traditional practice to concierge-style practice. This may be the hardest step in your transition. It is critical to have a well-crafted letter in order to recruit established patients to your new practice. Keep the letter short and crisp, and invite patients to contact you for further information. Moreover, even the most professionally written letter may not win over all hearts and minds. Some patients will unconditionally follow you, others will wish they could, and some patients will be angry.
  • Follow up with patients: After sending the introductory letter, you can invite patients for one-on-one meetings. These follow-up meetings will give you the chance to talk in greater detail about your concierge practice and the premium level of services you will be offering.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Different flavors of concierge practice

Most concierge practices can be categorized as fee-for-service care (FFC), fee-for-service extra care (FFEC) or hybrid concierge.

In the FFC model, patients pay an upfront annual fee that covers most of the services offered by the physician. However, there is an additional patient charge for vaccinations, lab work, X-rays and other services that fall outside the annual fee structure. FFC is usually known as a no-frills, low-cost variation that includes fewer services in the fixed price.

In the FFEC model, the patient pays an annual fee, but the extra services that fall outside the retainer are billed to the patient’s insurance provider by the physician.

The third business model is called a hybrid concierge model. In this model, the patient gets two choices. First: Pay annual fee for specific services with insurance billing for services not part of the package. Second: Opt out of the enhanced services package so that the practice bills all services to the insurer.

However, in all three business models, the practice is responsible for determining what services are included in the package. The practice also decides whether or not to accept cash and/or credit card payment. In addition, the practice decides on the frequency of fee (monthly, quarterly or annually).

For most physicians, the key benefit of adding a concierge service to their practice is the ability to spend quality time with patients. Personalized service and longer visits usually result in increased patient satisfaction. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, patients are happier with their medical care when they have extra time to spend with their doctors.

Some pros and cons!

Better patient care will be a clear result of having the extra time to spend with them. For doctors who treat chronic illnesses, concierge arrangement can vastly improve the quality of care and overall health of their patients.

Concierge practice can also help patients feel they are getting value for their money. After paying an up-front fee, unlimited access to their doctors with extensive consultations can feel very comforting, especially for patients with chronic health problems.

In a time where insurance reimbursements are decreasing, and costs are increasing, considering a retainer may be a good way to increase revenue, but the decision to switch from a traditional practice to a concierge practice comes with some drawbacks.

You may lose patients who do not want or cannot afford your payment structure or amount. Even if you are lucky enough to gain a significant number of patients after the transition, that initial loss could be upsetting for your practice. The loss of existing patients and the cost of attracting new patients are why most practices do not forsake the traditional payment system of commercial insurance and Medicare.

You should also consider the new demands that personalized services will place on your practice. Some concierge practices offer a broad range of services, including 24-hour access to the doctor, transportation and home visits. If your practice still has limited staff, you may not be able to meet every need without hiring outside help, and that may prove costly. You may choose to see fewer patients, but that may not be feasible considering your financial goals. Providing a flat fee for regular visits will not justify the cost for most patients, and therefore you will have to include additional services to make concierge practice worth it.

For some physicians, concierge practice is an excellent way to increase profits, save time, develop better relationships with their patients and provide quality care. For others, it may mean loss of profits and patients. If you are planning to make a switch from your traditional practice to concierge practice, it is important to consider its impact on your profitability and patient care.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Medical Healthcare Marketing

New not-for-profit hooks Mount Sinai’s most vulnerable patients up with lawyers

Mount Sinai Medical-Legal Partnership joins the growing movement to build groups that can address the legal needs of the most vulnerable patients.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Angry, dissatisfied, defensive or difficult patients.

Managing difficult patients is a frequent challenge faced by healthcare providers. The hostile patient, the aggressive patient, the overly demanding patient, the excessively anxious patient, the know-it-all patient and the compulsive complainer patient. If you fail to handle these patients aptly, they may receive substandard care, increase waiting hours for other patients and bring a bad name to your practice. Moreover, if your staff has to deal with a multitude of such patients on a given day, it could lead to a massive surge in frustration levels and, sometimes, a total breakdown of effective patient care.

Understanding why some patients are difficult

Patients may become difficult to deal with for different reasons. One factor, which all patients have in common, is they are hospitalized due to some medical condition. In addition to feeling helpless and weak, a patient may be feeling stressed and depressed. These feelings can become extreme, making the patient lose control in certain situations. In some cases, patients also feel dejected and annoyed with the care they are receiving.

We must consider that patients have different reasons and issues they may be dealing with. For experienced medical practitioners, it is sometimes possible to predict which patients may become abusive or violent. For instance, Alzheimer’s patients tend to be irrational and restless. In those suffering from life-threatening diseases such as cancer or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), violent behavior or psychiatric disorders are common. Also, isolation and anxiety may result in anger and violence. Many patients also feel let down by their weak bodies, their dependency on other people, their illness or being placed in a medical facility. They are sick and depressed because of their illness. Usually, such patients have poor coping skills and a personality that is hard to get along with.

No doubt some patients are not easy to get along with. However, before labeling a patient as difficult, medical practitioners should analyze the situation and ask why a patient is pushing his or her buttons so quickly. After all, the doctor-patient relationship, like all relationships, is a two-way street.

How to deal with difficult patients?

When dealing with difficult patients, it is important to watch your verbal as well as body language in order to prevent the situation from worsening. Usually, difficult patients will attempt to force you into a heated argument so that you end up becoming verbally aggressive. You must calm yourself first and take stock of your emotions before addressing their concerns. A more safe approach would be to resort to positive language and defuse the situation. The goal is not to give the patient any opportunity to overreact.

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Also, your body can convey your emotions far better than your words can. It is important to maintain eye contact as it expresses honesty and openness. Be careful not to stare down at the patient, as this may seem aggressive. Also, try not to get too close to the patient as that can be perceived as invading their space and may instigate aggression.

Next time you see clenched fists, sweaty hands and controlled breathing, try to discover the source of the patient’s distress. Do not get pulled into a conflict. Instead, understand the potential cause, recognize the triggers and respond to the situation appropriately.

Dealing with angry patients

A patient who is angry may simply be frightened or reacting to his or her illness or surroundings. It is important for a medical practitioner to step back from the angry patient. If the patient is frightened, you will have to approach him or her differently than if they are angry over something, such as a long wait or inconvenient appointment timing. The safest course of action is to communicate the patient and try to assess their feelings. Use empathetic statements such as, “I can understand what you are feeling,” and try to resolve the issues with them.

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Dealing with manipulative patients

Manipulative patients threaten, cry or throw tantrums in an attempt to seek attention or get their way. A simple strategy for dealing with this kind of patients is to stay level-headed and do not engage in a heated argument with them. These patients are stuck in their beliefs and will not budge from their version of events. A manipulative patient will try all tactics to convince you to give them special treatment or do what they demand. It is critical that you must calmly stabilize your feelings when dealing with manipulative patients and not let emotions overpower your sense of judgment.

Dealing with aggressive patients

According to research, nearly every medical staff has experienced a patient shouting and behaving disrespectfully with them. Sometimes, those verbal spats escalate into aggression with the patient throwing things at you, spitting at you or trying to attack you. While your staff can deal with aggressive patients by staying calm and remembering basic professional rules, you should bear in mind that such aggressive behavior is sure to affect your staff on the emotional level. When faced with an aggressive patient, it is important to step back, literally and figuratively. This will allow you to evaluate the potential cause of their aggressiveness and help you understand where they are coming from.

Dealing with grieving patients

In order to understand the effect of grief on some patients’ health, you will have to familiarize yourself with the normal stages of grief. You may have to look around for vegetative signs of pain and depression that prevent a patient from recovering from grief. You can help grieving patients by validating their emotional state, making them understand that grief is a process that takes a different amount of time for different people. You may need to make an effort to open communication channels, avoid medication that suppresses emotions and prevent significant lifestyle changes too early in the process.

The toll of aggression and violence on medical staff

Undoubtedly, nursing is a stressful job. Nurses have to worry about patients, complete their documentation and make sure they are following doctor’s instructions when a patient needs them. Adding defense against difficult and aggressive patients to a nurse’s full plate will be very unjustified. Stressing about a patient who may yell at you or hit you can make nursing seem like one of the toughest jobs under the sun. Most nurses begin to feel that they have failed professionally and personally when a patient disrespects them. While this is not a reflection of their nursing skills, it may be a breaking point for some nurses.

In these situations, it is critical to confide in a trusted supervisor and consider using the employee health services provided by most facilities. Your medical staff’s fear of an aggressive or manipulative patient can impact the way they care for other patients. This will not be fair to your staff or the other patients. You must educate and inform your medical staff to seek help to sort through their feelings when they encounter difficult patients on a regular basis.

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Tips for handling difficult patients

It is understandable that some patients lose control of their emotions because of overwhelming pain or when they are experiencing illness-related stress and anxiety. However, all these reasons will not make it easy for your medical staff. These aggressive and angry patients will test the compassion, patience and kindness of your medical staff.

Here are six effective tips for dealing with difficult patients that can help your staff defuse the situation before it spirals out of control:

1. Stay calm: Just knowing that the aggressive behavior is not because of you is the way to go. While it is easy to think a patient is upset because of something you have done, that is almost never the case. You should continue to do your job and try not to let the negativity get in your head.

2. Be empathetic: One of the most effective ways to calm an angry patient is by being empathetic. You must remind yourself that it is not easy to be battling a disease in the hospital and away from loved ones. Rather than being indifferent, try to be concerned about your patients’ well-being and treat them with respect. Show them that you care about them and that they are important to you.

3. Initiate a conversation: Try to engage the patient in a conversation. Mostly, they just want to be heard. You can address the patient by his or her first name, maintain eye contact and be empathetic. Let the patient trust that you understand his or her feelings, and practice active listening.

4. Look for the potential causes: Most patients are dealing with severe medical conditions and side effects from medications that can impact their mood and make them short-tempered. You can try to improve a patient’s bad mood and lift his or her spirits by identifying the potential cause of their bad behavior.

5. Avoid arguments: While you are entitled to express your opinion, you must do so respectfully. Instead of justifying why they are not getting the attention or care they want, simply apologize and reassure the patient that you will take care of their needs.

6. Set boundaries: One of the best approaches is to set limits for difficult patients who make unreasonable demands. Make such patients understand you will keep a check on their needs and requirements, and then follow through. You may also need to set boundaries to protect yourself.

Provide mandatory staff training for dealing with distressing situations

Staff training can help you prevent and manage violence and equip employees with necessary skills to diffuse potential incidents. Ideally, training should be mandatory for all staff, including cleaners, front office and temporary staff.

Every member of your medical team is at risk of verbal abuse and threat for varying reasons. Therefore, your employees should receive mandatory training sessions to help them deal with difficult patients. Imparting such training to your staff will not only improve their coping skills but may even protect them from any potential harm.

At Practice Builders, we custom-design staff training programs to meet your practice’s needs. These training sessions are designed to assess your current problems, suggest and implement improvements and create a culture of safety first. All training can be imparted individually or as a package. During our consultation, we can help you choose which training topics are best-suited for your needs.

Our evaluators can call and visit your practice to observe current systems, and a customized training program will be designed around your specific needs. Now that you have a direction for your staff training, be sure to call Practice Builders to discuss the training needs of your practice.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

20 Most Effective Doctor Marketing Tips for Attracting New Patients and Growing Your Practice

20 Most Effective Doctor Marketing Tips for Attracting New Patients and Growing Your Practice

Effective marketing is powerful. Successful medical practices understand the value of having an integrated marketing strategy that includes traditional and online marketing to reach, attract and retain patients. Having an effective strategy and knowing your target audience is imperative for the success of your medical practice in 2017.

Many medical practitioners believe that medical practices do not need a marketing strategy because everyone needs a doctor. While this is correct, medical practices still need to advertise because when people need a doctor, they will not contact a medical practice that they do not even know exists. Also, there is more competition than ever in the medical community. Therefore, it is critical for every medical practice to have an effective marketing strategy. In the absence of a marketing strategy, a medical practice will not have a consistent flow of patients to keep the practice running. Keeping this in mind, here are a few doctor marketing tips that are essential to the success of your medical practice:

  • Focus on enhancing the patient experience: One of the best ways to stand out in a crowded healthcare marketplace is to provide an excellent patient experience. An unmatched patient experience is a way to compete in 2017. Unfortunately, most practices do not have a patient experience strategy that tracks and improves all of the touch points of a patient’s journey. It is essential to understand what your patients need in order to build a successful patient experience strategy.
  • Provide quality content on your website: In 2017, it will become even more critical for medical practices to invest in SEO tactics. Therefore, quality content should be a part of your SEO plan. You can develop content to inform patients about your practice, specialty and work hours. Quality content plays a significant role in search engine ranking. It is imperative to create content keeping patients in mind. Search engines are intelligent enough to gauge the relevance and quality of your content. However, if you are creating well-written content with relevant information, search engines will reward you with better rankings.
  • Upgrade to a mobile-friendly website: According to a Google survey, nearly 61 percent of visitors will leave a website if it is not mobile-friendly. It is important to make your website stick to responsive design principles. Not only will that make it comfortable for potential patients to use your practice website, but it will also offer SEO benefits as Google favors responsive websites over standard websites.
  • Use Google for attracting local patients: A lot of potential patients are searching Google to find local medical practices. Make sure when potential patients search for medical practices in your area, they find your website on the first page of the search engine results. You must encourage your patients to go to your Google Places listing and leave a review of your practice after their appointment. Once you receive a high number of positive reviews, your practice will start showing in the local search results on Google, which will help you attract local patients to your practice.
  • Do not forget social media marketing: Social media has become one of the most influential marketing tools for medical practices, but you must utilize it properly to reap maximum benefits. Social media is certain to play a vital role in how medical practices market themselves in 2017. You must select your social media platforms wisely and make sure to market your practice the right way. Having a widespread presence on social media is a great way to build a brand following, which may drive new patients to your practice.
  • Network with other physicians: In order to grow, specialty practices need a referral base. Getting a new patient as a referral from another doctor requires a relationship-building technique. You must identify which doctors can recommend your practice to their patients and then develop a strategy to achieve those goals. You must focus on building relationships with other physicians by joining local medical associations and attending relevant seminars and functions.
  • Convey your message through blogging: Blogging is a proven way to reach, retain and engage your patients. If done right, blogging can take your marketing strategy to a new level. However, as a busy medical practitioner, you may need to overcome a few barriers in order to be a successful blogger. Keep the tone of your blog casual, and it should not be too lengthy.
  • Emphasize your skills and specialty: This is even more important if your practice is located in a competitive area. When a patient is searching for a new medical practitioner, he or she wants as much information as possible to be able to make an informed decision. For instance, if there are four dentists in your area, but your practice is the only one that offers a certain procedure, this is something you should emphasize on your website and in other marketing efforts.
  • Get listed on Google My Business: It is important fo you to get listed on Google My Business as it is an ideal platform for promoting a brick-and-mortar medical practice. Once you have created and claimed your business listing, you must ensure that all of your information is consistent and accurate across various online directories and citations. It is also important to sign up on third-party review sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, ZocDoc, RateMDs and many more.
  • Follow up with your patients: Medical marketing is a tricky business. The best way for a medical practice to market itself is by taking care of its patients. If done properly, you will be rewarded with positive word-of-mouth, and that is the best possible promotion any medical practice can have. Create an extensive follow-up program. Send regular emails advising your patients to follow instructions after their last visit and reminding them of upcoming appointments.

Over to you

While it is important to have a successful marketing campaign in place, it all boils down to the quality of patient experience you provide. Your patients will notice it, appreciate it and reward you by sticking around and referring your practice to their family and friends. Incorporate these doctor marketing tips into your strategy, and you will be welcoming patients through your practice doors in no time.

If you need any help with your doctor marketing strategy, we are here to help. Contact Practice Builders for a free consultation today.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Attract More Patients and Grow Your Medical Practice With Blogging

Attract More Patients and Grow Your Medical Practice With Blogging

Seriously, when a doctor is trying to improve his or her online reputation or attract new patients, blogging is usually not considered a useful tool. A number of studies have indicated that blogging is the best way of showcasing your expertise. However, how many physicians ever write one? If they do, are they consistent in blogging? Blogging should be a critical component of your strategy for growing your practice, increasing revenue, enhancing your online reputation, retaining existing patients and attracting new patients.

So if you are working on getting your marketing strategy sorted out, blogging is one of the best ways of educating your current patients and reaching out to potential ones.

Blogging can be compared to a funnel that drives patients to your practice and, eventually, helps you grow your practice and increase revenue. Therefore, if you blog multiple times a month, not only does Google ranks you higher than your competitors, but other websites or journals will publish snippets of your content and give you attribution. Not just this, according to some recent studies, more than 60 percent of patients made an appointment purchase based on a blog post that they read.

When you consistently write relevant and informative articles, it enhances your credibility and builds trust between you and the target audience. All that you need to do is write a new blog every two weeks, share them on your social media profiles or send out in an e-newsletter. The best part is that you can reuse your blogs over and over again.

In case you are wondering about the essential components of an informational blog, here you go:

1. A interesting headline.

2. Around 500 words are usually sufficient.

3. Your target audience are patients. So refrain from using medical jargon. Keep the content simple.

4. Add a striking image that draws readers’ attention.

5. A call to action, if possible.

6. A link to drive the reader to your practice website.

Why blogging matters

You are right in thinking that in today’s busier-than-ever healthcare environment, not many medical practitioners have time to write blog posts in addition to managing appointments and promoting their practices. However, what you may not realize is that doctors who write blogs have numerous advantages over those who do not. Physicians who blog do so for a number of reasons, including patient education, promotion and to personify themselves. Blogs also allow you to connect with patients on a much deeper level.

In addition to expanding your reach, blogging can allow you to be a source of trustworthy health information for patients. A blog allows you to personalize your message from your experiences.

If you are getting motivated, here are some more benefits of writing a blog:

1. Increases visibility: Studies have indicated that 72 percent of patients search for health information online, but most of them do not scroll past the first page of search results. Therefore, it is important that your website shows up high on the search results page. While results may vary every time Google changes its algorithm, studies show that fresh content in a blog and frequent social mentions about your practice can make your website rank higher in search results.

2. Attracts new patients: Blogging is one of the effective ways to attract new patients to your practice. In order to be found by potential patients, you must create quality content that educates and informs your target audience. Your blog posts should provide value to your patients while targeting specific keyword phrases to maximize traction in search engines. Blogging is the starting point of marketing. Not only does it open news door to allow potential patients into your practice, it also builds trust and strengthens your credibility.

3. Helps you stand out: In today’s competitive medical field, it is important for doctors to find a way to make their practice stand out from the competition. Building and maintaining an informational blog is one of the best ways to establish yourself in your community. With time, simple medical blogs can transform into important sources of information that reflect the doctor’s dedication to the betterment of the community.

4. Offers an outlet for expression: Self-expression is a modern form of entertainment, and blogging provides an opportunity for self-expression. Sharing your experiences with peers or the public is a great way to offer yourself a release while adding value to your readers. Just by devoting time a few times a month to express and share your thoughts via a blog can be one of the simplest ways to release stress.

5. Personalizes your practice: While it is essential to maintain professional standards at all time, it is possible to share your personal experiences while keeping the anonymity of your patients in compliance with HIPAA guidelines. Blogging also allows you to show the real you to your patients. Also, having a professional online diary can give a doctor a sense of satisfaction.

Content ideas for engaging your readers

Blogs may vary in content and style, but most of them aim at educating patients, managing their illness and providing valuable health information. Blogs can act as stepping stones for earning patients’ trust. Here are a few content ideas that will make your blog stand out from your competitors:

1. Frequently asked questions: Find out what your patients want to know and write a blog post explaining the most common questions. The most accurate way of finding out what your patients want to know is through surveys and personal discussions. You can also visit social media pages to see what other patients are asking and the way other physicians are responding.

2. Latest news: A blog is an excellent way to share information on latest medical discoveries and news related to general health. With all the fake information going viral on social media these days, a physician can really help people understand the subject. However, instead of sharing primary content, include your views as a doctor regarding the issue.

3. Industry trends: Healthcare is always evolving, and you can use your blog as a platform to discuss upcoming trends and seasonal health problems that can be valuable for both you and your patients. By setting up news alerts, you can help your patients stay updated on emerging trends.

4. Discuss an event: If there is an event coming up, you can write a post about it. You can let your readers learn more about what to expect, highlights and other valuable information. Post-event, you can discuss key takeaways from the event.

5. Guest posting: This is another great way to increase your credibility and popularity and to attract readers to your blog. To start guest posting, you will need to identify and invite the top healthcare bloggers in your space who have the same readers that you want to target. You will have to decide on the frequency of posts and the type of content that you would like your guest bloggers to write. By having well-written guest posts on your blog, you may be able to establish yourself as an authority on the subject.

How often should you blog?

Blog sections on physicians’ websites is often among the top-20 most visited pages. However, many bloggers believe it is necessary to write a blog daily or weekly. The truth is, even occasional blogging can attract more patients to your practice as well as help you enhance your credibility. Here are some guidelines on how to yield maximum return with minimum effort.

1. Primary-care physicians: Primary care physicians mostly get more general health questions and are usually the busiest providers. Given their time crunch, it is acceptable for primary-care physicians to post a blog once a week. They can write on general health issues, in a conversational format, and answer the most common questions they keep hearing in exam rooms. Some of the general blog topics can be the probability of Ebola infections, tips for handling cold and flu, etc.

2. Specialists: A specialist can post a blog about twice a month, just enough to convey regular activity on the website. A specialist can reflect on what’s in the news related to the specialty. The best way to come up with ideas is to do a quick Google search for specialty-related conditions. Sometimes a little effort can go a long way to growing visibility and credibility, thus ensuring new patient growth.

In a nutshell, depending on your blogging goals, you will have to adjust the frequency of your blog post. However, here are some of the unwritten rules for your blog posting frequency:

1. Observe your competitors: If your competitors are blogging three times a week, you should be blogging at least that much.

2. For maximum growth: Post several times a day to drive the most traffic. To begin with, three times a day is considered best for active bloggers.

3. For steady growth: Post at least once a day.

4. For slower growth: Post at least twice a week.

5. For no strategic growth plans: Post once or twice a month.

Medical blogging sites are worth checking out

You could already be actively blogging on the major social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., but if you are not present on physician-only social networking sites, you are missing out on your target customers. Networking sites for medical professionals offer connection, information, crowd-sourcing and fun. Here are some of the best social networking sites where you need to be in order to promote your blog and grow your practice:

1. Sermo: With more than a half-million active users, Sermo is probably the most popular social networking site for healthcare professionals worldwide. According to the site’s policy, only licensed physicians can register there. This site focuses on connecting verified and certified medical professionals from across the globe, who are allowed to ask anonymous questions and have real-time interaction with peers regarding patient care in Sermo’s “virtual doctors’ lounge.”

2. Doximity: A newer kid on the block, Doximity has over a half-million users. Aimed at connecting US-based doctors in all specialty areas, more than 60 percent of all US physicians are claimed to have already signed up for its membership. The site also facilitates doctors to earn some of their category 1 CME credits by reading the online medical journals. This social network platform for doctors comes loaded with features and benefits.

3. DailyRounds: This is a service for physicians that blends specific features of a social networking site and a medical journal. Doctors can use DailyRounds to exchange knowledge, upload and view medical cases and access its drug database. They can also network with other physicians through iOS and Android apps.

4. DoctorsHangout: This is a professional networking site for doctors, residents and medical students globally. This social network can help medical professionals maintain existing personal and professional relationships and develop new ones by reaching out to other doctors around the world.

5. QuantiaMD: Founded as a platform for helping doctors collaborate, over 200,000 members are already using this platform to communicate and share critical information. QuantiaMD helps physicians stay ahead by communication with and learning from peers and specialists. This social networking site provides video content and presentations made by experts for higher-learning institutions.

6. Figure1: This social networking site targets healthcare professionals and medical students in more than 100 countries. The platform allows medical professionals to share anonymous images of an ailment, such as X-rays, and have discussions with their peers related to the pictures. This site helps doctors working in remote locations to connect with other doctors and gain more knowledge on rare illnesses. Figure1 guards the privacy of the patient by removing faces and other identifiable marks immediately when a doctor uploads the image.

Every doctor knows the importance of connecting with patients during an appointment. It elicits a positive response and encourages good reviews about the practice. Your aim should not only be to provide information to your patients, but also encourage them to set an appointment with your medical practice. This makes effective blogging an essential tool in your marketing strategy. It is what you should do to bond with your patients online and to connect with all of them any day and any time.

If you lack time or resources to write a compelling blog post, you should hire a marketing professional or agency who can make your blog a powerful part of your marketing efforts. Practice Builders has a dedicated team of writers who write regular blog posts for medical practitioners. Whatever your specialty is, we have a writer with the expertise to create relevant and informational blogs for you. If you are interested in learning more about our blogging services, contact our representative.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How hospitals use kiosks to serve patients and visitors

From train stations to shopping centers and health care facilities, kiosks are growing in popularity, and for good reason.

Interactive touchscreens are helping hospitals and practitioners schedule surgical procedures, provide information to patients and serve as virtual receptionists. The result? A happier, less stressful health care experience. Consider how the following can enhance patient engagement and customer experiences:

Electronic patient information

Interactive multimedia consoles save costs in printing and paper as brochures and other literature are removed from circulation. More important, patients can sign in for appointments without assistance. Also, wait times are reduced and staffers are freed up to focus on helping others.

Kiosks also help people with visual or hearing impairments and those who might have difficulties communicating in English. For example, many kiosks provide a hearing loop that enables people to listen to information, rather than reading it on a screen.

In addition, patients can circumvent reading and instead tap buttons to make language selections. This is a significant benefit to folks whose first language is not English.

Kiosks_hospitals

Navigation

Navigational technology shows patients—via interactive 2D and 3D maps—the location of their appointment within the facility and the fastest route to get there. This can help people get to their appointments on time, enhancing operational processes in offices and labs.

Payment

The National Health Service has turned to payment kiosks to let patients pay for prescriptions and other health-related services and products without devoting staff to process transactions. This can help health care facilities and physicians to save money.

Entertainment

Interactive kiosks are an engaging way to pass time and occupy visitors. They provide access to TV and Internet browsing in waiting areas and in hospital wards. The technology is often used as a resource for patient education, too. In addition, touchscreens can be used in staff areas in the form of vending machines and TV hubs.

George H M Webb is a content media executive for Cammax Limited, a leading kiosk and touchscreen provider.

(Image via )

This article was first published in April 2016.
HealthCareCommunication.com

11 Things Patients Want From Their Doctors

11 Things Patients Want From Their Doctors

Patients trust doctors with their health. When we think about the patient-doctor relationship in this light, we realize just how important it is for the relationship to be a healthy one. When the relationship is strong, your patient’s health will improve. When it is not, the patient may suffer from a lack of clarity about the disease and diagnosis.

According to research from The PwC Health Research Institute, patients are expecting the same facilities and customer service from their medical practitioner as they would from a bank, hotel or airline. The PwC Health Research Institute surveyed thousands of patients to gauge their opinions of healthcare and found that active listening and transparency are the top priorities for patients when it comes to choosing a medical practitioner.

Getting a warm welcome when checking into a hotel shows friendliness, but in the doctor’s office, it can be a game changer. Today, patients are twice as likely to choose or reject a doctor on the basis of staff friendliness and attitude. While 70 percent of patients want doctors to offer multiple services under one roof, nearly 65 percent will appreciate the option to exchange information through smartphones.

However, the good news is that price is not a primary driver for most patients when it comes to choosing healthcare. A patient is more than twice as likely to prefer personal experience over price when selecting a doctor or medical facility.

A patient’s experience matters more than ever, not only because your doctor wants you to be well, but because policies and awareness are driving healthcare like never before. So patients have rights, including the right to participate in their healthcare rather than being an inactive patient. Here is a list of what patients expect and deserve from their doctors:

1. Transparency: It is acceptable if a physician does not know everything about their illness or diagnosis, but patients expect their doctors to share as much as possible. Uncertainty is okay, as long as patients are aware of the truth. Also, patients understand that doctors are humans, too, and that medical errors do occur. While patients usually never demand retribution, they do want a confession of the error and an assurance that the doctor is trying to fix the error. You must always educate your patients on the success rate and the risks involved with related procedures.

2. Active listening: When your patients leave your office after an appointment, do they feel like they are leaving a speech or a conversation? This is because conversations, and not lectures, will be helpful in improving your patients’ health. Patients want a doctor who respects their opinion, listens as they describe health issues and symptoms and asks follow-up questions in order to understand the cause of their illness. If you are always rushing through appointments, it can never be beneficial to anyone involved. Your medical should listen to your patients without interrupting them or making them feel rushed.

3. Trust: If a doctor is an active listener, patients will feel comfortable sharing every piece of information, including sensitive topics, assumptions, related myths and much more. In order to develop the best patient-doctor relationship, your patients must find you trustworthy enough to talk about other factors that affect their health. If they do not, you might not have made enough effort to earn their trust.

4. Care and connection: Patients instantly recognize the obvious signs of overtreatment, and they understand that more care is not equal to better care. Most patients stay cautious of ulterior motives of medical professionals and know that much money gets made in this profession. Patients want to be sure if they are getting the right care, without financial incentives getting in the way. Also, patients crave face-to-face interaction with their doctor. They want you to listen to them. Listening to your patients’ medical history is only the start; they also want you to connect with them on an emotional, physical and spiritual level.

5. Respect: If your patient is feeling cold, arrange for a blanket. If thirsty, get some water. Without addressing these underlying human needs, impressive offices and state-of-the-art equipment are useless. So forget the fancy ceiling and lighting and hire medical staff who will treat your patients with compassion and dignity. Also, patients will wait if they get what they want. Patients are not unhappy because they had to wait 30 minutes but because they did not get what they expected during their appointment with you. Do not make your patients wait for 45 minutes and then spend five minutes with them during the appointment. Such acts will make your patients feel ignored and disrespected.

6. Effective communication: Illness can suffocate even the bravest of souls. Diagnosis and procedures can be complicated, and a patient often feels vulnerable and helpless in your office, irrespective of their reason for being there. So the last thing they would expect is to walk out of your office without understanding a word you said. As a doctor, it is your responsibility to explain everything in a way your patient can understand. Don’t get upset or lose patience if you are asked to repeat or clarify instructions.

7. Time: Accept that some patients demand more time than others. Instead of rushing and handling five things in 10 minutes, pay attention to what your patients are saying. You must learn to value their time. You should allow ample time for your patients to ask as many questions as they want during an appointment.

8. Empathy: You can easily relate to your patient by asking about the daily schedule or eating habits. This kind of interaction creates a sense of connection, which will show your patient that you care. Always try to know and develop great relationships with your patients. If the patient is comfortable, feel free to ask personal histories, daily routine and lifestyle preferences. The medications that you prescribe may have side effects, and it is your duty to educate the patients about the potential risks and benefits. Also, patients are more likely to follow your instructions and return to your practice if they feel connected to you.

9. Access: If your patient is sick and wants to be seen, you must see him or her – even if that means working late or working through lunch hours. If you are not available when they need you, what good are you to them? Similarly, your patients should not have to wait for weeks for their lab results and make numerous calls to your office to receive them. You must consider electronic health records. EHRs may not be perfect, but they are helpful in simplifying communication and access-related issues. As a doctor, you must make sure your patients have access to their healthcare information.

10. Clear instructions: During an appointment, don’t make the mistake of rushing through instructions at an unintelligible pace. Be accurate and clear, and try to type out instructions that the patients can pick up when they leave. Always take the time to explain and simplify technical and medical terminology.

11. Collaboration: Your patients understand their body and life better than you do, and therefore you must get their consent before ordering a test or offering treatment. You must talk it through with your patients until they understand the purpose and implications of a test or treatment.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Help patients understand the top 5 sports injuries

Whether it’s a rotator cuff, meniscus or labral tear, injuries that result from sports and physical activities sideline millions of people every year.

Patients who suffer damages to shoulders, hips and knees are typically instructed to first use the RICE approach to ease discomfort.

  • Rest

  • Ice

  • Compression

  • Elevation

Then, it’s off to a trained health care provider for a full exam.

How are your health care practitioners counseling and treating wounded weekend warriors?

This infographic from Mount Sinai’s Sports Medicine Service offers insights into other treatments.

(View larger image here)

sports-injuries-info 

(Image via )

This article was first published in September 2016.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Top 25 Ways to Attract More Patients to Your Medical Practice

Top 25 Ways to Attract More Patients to Your Medical Practice

Marketing is essential to the success of any business, and medical practices are no exception. For a medical practice to grow, a doctor should see 30 to 50 new patients every month. Moreover, to attract new patients, a practice must offer competitive services at reasonable pricing. Retaining existing patients also demands hard work and dedication.

While it is important to maintain a relationship with your existing patients, it is equally important to grow your practice and add new patients. Of course, there are the usual ways to achieve this, including marketing techniques and referral programs, but there is much more you can do. Here are some proven ways to help you grow your practice and add new patients:

1. Know your target audience: Before you reach out to potential patients, you need to understand your current patients. Take a look at your office records and observe the average age, gender, profession and location of your existing patients. This data will help you find the best marketing techniques to promote your practice and attract new patients.

2. Train your team: Your team will get to interact with your patients before they meet you. So train your staff to present a great first impression and address patients’ questions regarding your practice. Your staff should not only know about the services you provide but also offer specific details such as pricing, equipment used during procedures, what to expect during a consult, etc.

3. Follow up with patients: Most of the practices spend about 90 percent of their resources to attract new patients. However, retaining existing patients is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to grow your practice. Also, nurturing relationships with existing patients will increase referrals.

4. Build a mobile-responsive website: Having a modern and easy-to-use website is critical for the growth of your practice and for attracting new patients. Make sure your website is responsive and works equally well on mobile devices. The objective of your practice website is to educate your potential patients so they can make an informed decision and call your clinic for an appointment. Creating a relevant and informational website is probably the most important marketing tool at your disposal.

5. Start a blog: Blogging adds fresh content to your site and also helps with SEO. Consistently posting relevant and original content on your blog shows that you know your practice and are happy to keep your patients informed. You may provide wellness tips, announce local events and share updates about your practice. You can promote the blog using Twitter and use it to engage with existing and potential patients.

6. Host contests: Contents can be an excellent way to get your target audience to know about your practice. Offering prizes and giveaways in exchange for spreading the word about your practice may bring you plenty of leads.

7. Encourage online reviews: Reviews are one of the most efficient ways for attracting new patients and growing your practice. Encourage your patients to share their feedback in an online review. You can do this by sending a follow-up email thanking your patients for their visit and encouraging them to review you online. You can offer discounts or free services to motivate patients for posting online reviews for your practice. With the patient’s permission, you can also make their reviews public by sharing them on your practice website. It will not only help in maintaining patient relationships but will also get your name out there.

8. Connect with the community: Connecting with your community will give you an opportunity to educate people and expand the list of potential patients. You can host a seminar for kids on how to care for their health and ensure hygiene. Parents will not only appreciate this but will also consult you when they need a doctor.

9. Stay active on social media: When your current patients “like” or “share” your content on social media, their entire social circle sees it. That can direct user traffic to your page and may help generate leads. The trick is to share informational content that is relevant to your target users so that more and more people feel motivated to share your content.

10. Monitor your online presence: If your practice has some negative reviews, look for the most common reasons for the complaints. If the review sites allow, make sure you respond to both positive and negative feedback to show that you care. The more positive feedback you can collect, the more calls you’ll get from potential patients.

11. Embrace technological advances: Young patients are keen on having a technologically connected healthcare experience, and you can easily achieve it through cost-effective technical updates. For instance, instead of calling your clinic, patients should be able to download their lab results from your portal. If patients are satisfied with the convenience offered by your clinic, they’ll be more likely to refer other people to your practice.

12. Be responsive: Always staff yourself adequately if you notice an increase in the number of patients. Recruit extra staff to expand your existing services and, if possible, add new services to meet the needs of new patients. You can promote the new services strategically to the target audience. By meeting local demands in a strategic and timely manner, you can increase the number of patients and grow your practice.

13. Deliver quality service: There is no way your patients will refer your practice to others if they aren’t satisfied with your attitude and services. You have to show real interest in your patients. Your manners and the look and feel of your clinic are extremely important. You must be able to communicate well with your patients and make your presence positive and uplifting.

14. Be flexible: Your office hours and appointment schedule must suit that of your patients. If your patients need early morning appointments, lunchtime or evening hours won’t work for them. You have to make yourself available at their convenience.

15. Ask for references: Patients usually don’t refer unless you ask. The simplest way to ask for references is to inform your existing patients that you have room for new patients or that you are adding new services. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations and don’t forget to thank them for referrals.

16. Become a referrer: Fostering relationships with other doctors is a two-way street. Other doctors will be interested in referring patients to you if you’ve been referring patients their way. It is always best for the patient to refer them to the best-in-class doctors.

17. Send email reminders: Emails are one of the best ways to remind patients to come by for scheduled checkups. You can schedule follow-up emails after each appointment to ensure your patients never miss their checkups. You can also stay in touch with your regular patients throughout the year with hygiene tips, health news and updates about your practice.

18. Use email marketing: Email marketing is not an efficient method of staying in touch with your existing patients. But you can use emails for sending reminders, promotional offers and general updates about your practice to your existing patients.

19. Invest in local SEO: Make sure you include local SEO strategies in your marketing mix so that your practice shows up in local search results. This is because when potential patients are searching for doctors and medical services online, you want your practice to come up with the first few on top. Having your practice website appearing in the top five slots of a search engine is essential for attracting new patients.

20. Get listed in local online directories: More than 70 percent of people searching for medical professionals make their selection based on local listings in online directories such as Google+, Yelp, White Pages, etc. Listing your practice in an online local directory is a great way to steer targeted traffic to your website.

21. Generate media exposure: The right amount of media exposure can attract a large volume of new patients and increase the branding of your practice. Generating media exposure requires time, effort and a thorough understanding of how each media works. When done properly, media exposure can bring tremendous results for your practice.

22. Post real pictures of your staff: Personalize your practice website and make it an extension of your clinic. Instead of using stock and generic photos on your practice website and social media profiles, post real-life pictures of your team and office. Real-life images will display the comfort of your clinic and add some personality to your practice website.

23. Re-engage past patients: Set up a system for monitoring patient appointments and sending reminders to those who have been missing their appointments for a particular period. Even if a patient seems reluctant to return to your practice, you might convince them to come back with a few small gestures.

24. Take all cases seriously: Always answer patient calls, especially emergency calls, promptly. If patients are suffering and you are not available for them, they will never come to see you again. If you are available for patients in times of an emergency and go above and beyond for them, they will not waste a minute in spreading the good word about your practice.

25. Brochures and business cards: Brochures kept in your office or mailed to potential and existing patients can be an effective marketing tool. Information available in catalogs can be an educational tool that creates awareness about your practice. Moreover, displaying business cards in your reception area will keep your name intact, and patients will have access to your contact information for future reference.

Medical Healthcare Marketing