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Tag Archives: Patients

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

7 Ways to Motivate Patients to Achieve Their 2017 Health Goals

7 Ways to Motivate Patients to Achieve Their 2017 Health Goals

Patient compliance is a challenging issue for the medical professional. Your desire to help your patients succeed is often derailed when they don’t do their part. Get a jump-start in January and use the New Year’s motivating force to your advantage!

Use these seven strategies to motivate patients to change, and help them meet their healthcare goals:

1. Set simple goals. You know where your patients need to be and the steps it will take to get there, so break their big goals into smaller ones and present them one at a time. For example, if you’re a physical therapist and know your patient’s end goal is to walk again, break that down into manageable goals that your patient can meet. It will be less overwhelming for your patient to reach a smaller milestone, and the progress will be a motivating factor in continuing their regimen at home.

2. Educate patients with handouts. Keep brochures on hand relating to a variety of health conditions. Then hand them out to patients, highlighting any important statistics or tips that relate directly to them. For example, seeing the mortality rate from heart disease might persuade your patient to maintain a better diet.

3. Make community connections. If you know of a community service your patient would benefit from, provide them the necessary info to get connected. For instance, if your patient needs help losing weight, a support group for overeaters might make a difference. Sometimes just a little extra support is all they need to stay motivated between appointments.

4. Host a workshop. Host a workshop that educates patients how to live with their chronic condition. For example, if you serve a large diabetic or cardiac patient base where diet is crucial to managing the diseases, offer a free workshop on how to read and interpret food labels and uncover the hidden dangers of certain foods.

5. Give homework. Make sure your patients know their success is largely in their own hands. Tell them exactly what they need to do at home, and let them know you’ll be checking their progress at the next appointment. Give your patients an exercise or diet journal to log their progress and hold them accountable to bring it to every visit.

6. Keep in touch. Make sure to schedule regular follow-ups with your patients and consider having a receptionist phone or email to check on them between appointments. Let them know they can call or email with any questions or concerns between appointments, too. The added attention will boost their motivation.

7. Eliminate obstacles. Does your patient have a cognitive or physical challenge impairing his/her ability to follow your medication or therapy regimen? For example, maybe he/she doesn’t understand medication dosing guidelines, can’t tolerate certain pill sizes or have difficulty opening medication bottles. Knowing of an impairment is the first step in removing it.

Practice Builders can help you motivate and educate your patients. Just email us at info@practicebuilders.com or call us at 855.898.2710 today for a free marketing consult. Whether you need brochures, webinars or blogs, we’ve got the tools you need to help your patients meet their health goals.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

6 Easy Ways to Research Your Competition so that You Can Attract More Patients

6 Easy Ways to Research Your Competition so that You Can Attract More Patients

If you want to stay ahead of the game, you’ve got to know your competition. We’ll show you how to do your own market research so you can get the scoop on competing healthcare practices. When you know their strengths and weaknesses (and understand your own) you’ll be better-positioned to strategize your own marketing efforts and increase your patient load.

Here are six stealthy ways you can dig deep to understand competing healthcare practices:

1. Find them on the Internet. You likely already know at least one competitor in your local region, but first you need to seek out who you’re vying with for patients. In this case, your friends are Google and Google Tools. Do a search to figure out who your local competitors are, and then go one step further and employ the help of Google Trends and Google Alerts. You’ll feel like a secret agent as you discover all you ever wanted to know about your competition!

2. Peruse their website. You can learn a lot about a medical practice by their website! A company’s mission and values will clarify what their primary goals are, staff bios will introduce you to the caliber of their employees, patient testimonials will reveal what sets them apart, and a blog will display some of the practice’s personality.

3. Follow their social media. Following a competing practice on Facebook or Twitter is a great way to discover what they’re doing in the community, how they engage their patients and even what their patients think of them. Speaking of reviews, check out Yelp and see what lurks there. Don’t forget to search on your own practice, too. Many healthcare practice’s strengths and weaknesses come out via social networking channels.

4. Call them, incognito. You don’t want to make a call from your office phone, because caller IDs are a clear giveaway of who’s on the other line. But call a competing practice and put in a few inquiries to find out a little more information about them. You’ll also see how their customer service stacks up.

5. Sign up for their newsletter. Again, incognito. You might feel like a snoop using your work email address, so use a personal account and sign up for your competitor’s monthly newsletter. Similar to social media and a blog, a newsletter will reveal how a practice educates their patients plus give you a glimpse into a practice’s upcoming events and past accomplishments as well as how they interact with their patients.

6. Listen to your own patients. Some patients may willingly volunteer information to you about why they were dissatisfied elsewhere. It’s also a question you can ask, especially new patients who may have recently left a practice. If you’re uncomfortable digging in the dirt, simply ask what brought them to you. You may not find out a specific practice pain point, but you’ll still come out ahead in understanding how your own marketing efforts are paying off.

But you don’t have to research your competition alone, because that’s our specialty. Let Practice Builders help you do the right market research and create a marketing plan that suits your needs and goals. Contact us at info@practicebuilders.com or 800.679.1262 to sign up for a free marketing consult with us, and we’ll get started!

Medical Healthcare Marketing

6 Ways to Make Your Patients Feel Special

6 Ways to Make Your Patients Feel Special

How your patients experience your practice is a foundational aspect of your healthcare marketing strategy. A snappy website may help get patients through your doors, but whether or not you retain them and they are willing to recommend your practice depends on what happens once they step through those doors. Use these six strategies to improve your patients’ experience with your practice… so they refer their friends and keep coming back!

Remember Individual Details. Patients know you see a lot of people, so if you can remember a couple of details specific to individual patients and ask about them, your patients will be impressed by your thoughtfulness. They’ll feel like they are not just a name on a file to you, but rather a valued part of your practice. Building that sense of connection is important for building a trusting relationship with your patient, who will in turn be much more likely to recommend you to others.

Surveys. Conduct regular surveys of your patients’ satisfaction with your practice. You can send them out online, have patients fill out a form in person or build it into an app. This will show that you care about their experience and feedback and will help you pinpoint areas for improvement.

App. Consider building an app for your practice. If you are a hospital, include a map that directs patients and visitors to the appropriate place to park and help navigate them through your halls. You can also build in interactive, health-related surveys and articles they can engage with in the waiting room. An app offers a great platform to help patients get in touch with your practice, refill prescriptions and be reminded of their appointments.

Show Your Appreciation. Host a patient appreciation event. This can be small and fairly inexpensive, like a social at a park, or more elaborate as your budget allows. If you have a core group of long-time patients, show them you appreciate their loyalty by renting out a restaurant to say thanks.

Be Attentive. When patients arrive, make sure your front desk staff is trained to welcome them and attend to what they need right away. If this isn’t always possible, make sure you and your staff thank them for their patience. Acknowledge their experience before they have to bring it to your attention. This will help patients recognize you are considering them and doing the best you can.

Make It Inviting. Patients can be nervous, especially when they are new and don’t know what to expect. Their first impression will come from the waiting area, so make sure you keep it clean and inviting. Consider incorporating small decorative elements that will help the space feel more warm and personal, like table lamps instead of overhead fluorescents.

When your patients feel valued and special, they’re much more likely to come back, give you positive reviews and recommend your practice to others.

If you’d like to improve your patients’ experience as part of your healthcare marketing plan, we’d love to help. Contact info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How to Keep Patients Coming Back

How to Keep Patients Coming Back

Updating your online healthcare marketing plan to gain new followers is a great way to increase your online profile and find a new audience. But it’s always important to remember while you’re developing your online community that it’s just as important to improved your in-office practices to retain the patients you do have.

Building the reputation of your medical or dental office shouldn’t just be focused on online strategies. Here are some ways you can ensure your patients keep coming back:

Connect On Social Media

Social media isn’t just for gaining anonymous followers to raise your profile – it’s also a convenient and innovative way to get to know your patients better and connect with them. You can create posts or special offers that cater to your patients’ interests and needs or you can include certain news items that address concerns that your patients have expressed.

Build Your Online Reputation

Building an online reputation is a two-way street between you and your patients since you need to ask or encourage your patients to rate their experience with your practice online. By offering impeccable service and incentives to review your practice online, you can help remind your patients of the good service they received and also let your patients know you value their opinion, so they keep coming back.

In Office Training

You’re only as good as your team. That’s why it’s also important to offer training sessions to help your staff better their skills. Telephone and communication skills are imperative to create a welcoming atmosphere that patients want to come back to.

At Practice Builders, we offer staff training and online marketing strategies to help you gain new patients and retain the ones you already have. Contact our experienced healthcare marketing consultants at info@practicebuilders.com for more information.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How to Find Out What Your Patients Want Online

How-to-Find-Out-What-Your-Patients-Want-OnlineBIG

Did you know that 77% of online health seekers began their last session on a search engine? When you’re marketing your healthcare practice online, it’s important to anticipate what your patients are looking for – that way, they find you and your practice online! As with any business, having an idea of what your customer needs and wants makes it easier to create an effective online healthcare marketing plan that will get you the results you want. But is it possible to really know what your patients want from their healthcare provider online? Here are a few tips to help you answer that question:

Stick to Your Expertise and Services

Whether you run a medical, dental, physical therapy or veterinary practice, no one knows what you can offer better than you. Start by promoting your own knowledge and services to help attract the patients you want online. If you find that patients want more than what you offer, you can consider expanding your services and expertise then.

Pay Attention to Online Reviews, Questions and Comments

If you’re on an online review site like Yelp or have a business page on Facebook, be sure to pay attention to the comments and reviews you receive. Did anyone leave a follow-up question on an article you posted? Has anyone asked if you provide a certain service that isn’t explicitly promoted on your site?

Reviews, both positive and negative, can also provide insight into what it is your patients are looking for. Paying attention to them gives you the opportunity to tailor your content to what your patients want and add SEO optimized content to help more patients find you online.

Poll Your Audience

The quickest way to find out what your patients want from you online is to ask them. Poll your patients on what specific content they’d like to see more of or see if there’s a specific medical topic that you haven’t covered that they’d like to learn more about.

Know Your Competition

Another way to find out what your patients want online is to see what your local competition is offering. Check out the websites and social media pages of other healthcare practices in your community – what do they offer that you don’t? And is it something that patients in your area are looking for? Most importantly, is it something that you can offer them? If so, then you know how you should tailor your content going forward to attract those patients.

Create a Brand

Developing a brand identity and establishing who you are as a medical practice will, in a way, give your patients what they want. Having a clear message about your practice will help you establish who you are to your patients and give them a clear perspective of who you are, as well. When we’re choosing a business to go to, we do so because they represent something that we’re looking for. Having your own clear message will help you attract the patients that you want online.

At Practice Builders, part of our many services is to help our clients establish a brand identity. If you’d like to learn more, contact one of our healthcare marketing consultants at 800.679.1262.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Keeping Up With Today’s Hyper-Connected Patients

Keeping-Up-With-Todays-Hyper-Connected-PatientsBIG

Teaser: Your average patient in 2016 is likely to be an active social media user with more than 300 social media connections. According to Pew Research, nine out of ten American adults now use the Internet regularly. And that figure is as high as 99% among higher-earning households, millennials and college-educated Americans of all ages. And that’s not all…

Patient behaviors have evolved

The Internet has led to the evolution of your typical healthcare patient. Instead of looking for healthcare practices by scanning a printed Yellow Pages directory or asking a relative, today’s prospective new patient typically logs on to the Internet and uses a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo! to find your website, social media pages or online reviews.

Today’s patients check these online resources before they decide to contact a practice even if they have been referred to a specific doctor or healthcare practice by another patient or doctor. Fewer and fewer patients respond to heavily branded external marketing messages in print ads, TV commercials or other traditional media.

Patients trust peers, not “advertising”

Today’s patient does not trust traditional advertising. Today’s patient trusts those in his or her own social network and online reviews from other patients. The decision-making process is far more research-driven than that of earlier patients. And it’s not just younger patient prospects making healthcare decisions this way. The fastest-growing population segment on Facebook today is adults aged 50+. Regardless of age, patients visit practice websites, check branded social media pages and watch YouTube videos. By the time the patient contacts your office, he or she is already prequalified based on his or her own research.

Handling phone calls from prospective patients

This is where the rubber meets the road in new-patient acquisition; where your staff can either make or break the process – and help you gain or lose a new patient – by how they handle each phone call. Ask yourself whether your staff is reinforcing your brand and professional image. Does your staff encourage the same positive feelings that led the prospect to contact you? Does your practice provide helpful educational content that enhances your credibility and promotes your acceptance among patient prospects?

Well-informed patients often make better patients

The typical patient’s decision-making process may seem a bit more complicated than flipping through a Yellow Pages directory, but they are really quite simple. The Internet offers split-second access to a wealth of health information. Today’s typical patient is likely to have read several medical research articles and visited several websites before contacting a doctor, dentist or other type of healthcare practice. This often results in a more informed, more proactive patient whom most doctors or dentists will enjoy treating.

If you would like to know more about reaching, attracting and engaging today’s patients more effectively through social media, call Practice Builders at 800.679.1200 or email info@practicebuilders.com.

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

Practice Builders

Doctors and patients critical of CDC’s new opioid guidelines

Some 40 Americans are dying every day from prescription drug abuse.

In an effort to address the epidemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued 12 recommendations for primary care physicians to abide by voluntarily. The CDC’s parameters are a follow-up to President Barack Obama’s instructions from his State of the Union address in January when he noted the far-reaching effects of opioid abuse.

According to the CDC website, increased prescribing and sales have quadrupled opioid use since 1999 and “helped create and fuel this epidemic.”

The guideline provides recommendations on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain (that is, pain lasting longer than three months or past the time of normal tissue healing). Chronic pain is a public health concern in the United States, and patients with chronic pain deserve safe and effective pain management. This new guideline is for primary care providers—who account for prescribing nearly half of all opioid prescriptions—treating adult patients for chronic pain in outpatient settings. It is not intended for guiding treatment of patients in active cancer treatment, palliative care, or end-of-life care.

CDC_prescription_drug_graphic

ABCNews.com reported that the guidelines could be widely adopted by hospitals, insurers and state and federal health systems.

Government officials have already tried multiple approaches to tackling painkiller abuse. The Food and Drug Administration restricted some widely-prescribed painkillers to limit refills. States like Florida and New York have cracked down on “pill mills” using databases to monitor what doctors are prescribing. And this week, Massachusetts signed into law a seven-day limit on first-time prescriptions for opioids — the first of its kind in the nation.

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said: “Changing medical practice isn’t quick and it isn’t easy, but we think the pendulum on pain management swung way too far toward the ready use of opioids.”

The recommendations—initially released earlier this year—have come under fire from many physicians on social media. For example, Dr. Stefan Kertesz, a primary care doctor trained in internal medicine and addictions, wrote on HuffingtonPost.com in January:

They [the CDC] urge aggressive use of urine drug testing to identify patients who take opioid medication differently from intended or use illicit drugs. In 56 pages, they say a lot more. My practice lines up closely with what this guideline recommends. And despite that, I feel the guideline is not yet ready, not given the regulatory power it will have.

Dr. Joseph Garbely, medical director at Caron Treatment Centers, a behavioral health and addiction treatment facility, wrote a few days ago that the CDC parameters put doctors in a “tenuous position.” If physicians refuse to prescribe an opiate, their patients might very well hop to another office until they get what they want and their continuity of care is broken, he said. “That’s why it’s critically important that the medical community play a significant role in creating meaningful change. Our goal as physicians must be eliminating irresponsible prescribing of opiates while allowing our patients’ pain to be appropriately treated. Primary care doctors are on the front lines of this epidemic but specialists have a role, too.”

Garbely also said medical schools and residency programs should mandate education about the recommendations as part of physicians’ maintenance of certification. 

[Free download: The Mayo Clinic, Piedmont Healthcare and Nebraska Medicine share best practices in health care internal communications.]

From the patient’s view

Providers aren’t the only ones to voice concern about the guidelines. People living with chronic pain offered insights about how the CDC parameters may affect them. Here’s a sampling from MSN.com:

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CDC_prescription_comment_USAToday

In 2013, an estimated 1.9 million people abused or were dependent on prescription opiates, drugs in the same class as morphine.

Communicators, what are providers doing to address the opioid epidemic in their offices? Are you using social or traditional media to express opinions and educate the public?

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HealthCareCommunication.com

Do your patients know the intricacies of the heart and lungs?

The heart and lungs can be the source of breathing problems. Do your patients understand the close connection of these vital organs?

An infographic from National Jewish Health says the heart and lungs work together to ensure the body has enough oxygen-rich blood to function properly. 

[Learn the state of internal communication in health care with this free download.]

Patients who suffer from common problems linked to the heart-lung connection may experience:

  • Sleep apnea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Heart attacks

  • Emphysema

  • Bronchitis

  • Exercise intolerance

  • Fatigue

Communicators, can you improve your outreach about this topic? This infographic features several interesting heart/lung facts that may boost your efforts.

(View a larger image)

Infographic-Heart-and-Breathing-Connection

(Image via)

HealthCareCommunication.com