How Your Practice Should Compete in the Digital World

As technology has changed the way people receive information, it has also changed the way patients determine a care path for an injury or condition. Most significantly though, it has changed the way patients choose a specialist to treat their condition.  Practices must adapt their patient acquisition strategies to reflect this more informed and more digitally savvy audience if they want to remain profitable in the coming years.

This is especially true for practices that wish to remain independent as hospitals and health systems continue to acquire referring practices, such as Primary Care and Family Medicine.  However, too often practices do not understand the need to implement a cohesive digital strategy until they begin to see a decline in patient volume or an increase in competition.  It is important to understand the impact the digital shift has had on patients and how to use it to remain profitable.  Below are some of the basic strategies practices should be using:

A Mobile Responsive and Unique Website 

Statistically, almost 70% of medical journeys begin online with patients searching for conditions and a provider to treat that condition.  What’s more, 60% of all internet traffic now comes from a mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.).  What this means is that the majority of potential patients are researching a condition or searching for a provider on a smartphone or tablet. This is where your practice’s website becomes one of the most important tools in patient acquisition.

By now most practices have a website – but that may not be enough.  In 2014, Google began to penalize websites that did not meet the standards of a “mobile responsive” website.  What this means is that the website had to be updated to use a theme or platform that automatically detected whether the potential patient was using a phone, tablet or desktop computer and automatically reformatted the layout and navigation of the website to ensure a better user experience.  If your website does not meet these criteria, Google began to push your website further down in the results if a search came from a phone or tablet.  If patients have to spend time pinching and scrolling to be able to read the content on your site, they are far more likely to leave your website and go to a competitors’ website to find the information they are looking for.

In addition to the mobile responsiveness of your site, Google bases your placement in search results based on the content within your site.  Too often practices make the mistake of simply listing the conditions they treat or procedures that they perform.  Not only does this lack of content hurt your placement is Google search results, but it also hurts your new patient acquisition.

In a world where a wealth of information on any medical condition is accessible instantaneously, the modern patient needs more than just a bullet point on your website to ensure that you are the right doctor for them.  To increase patient acquisition, your website should have individual pages for each treatment you provide, condition you treat and procedures you perform.

A Google Pay Per Click (Adwords) Strategy

A Google Adwords Strategy gives your practice the ability to target your message to patients in your area looking for your services at that very moment.  Google Adwords allows your practice to “bid” on relevant search terms in your area and shows your results at the top of the page. Google Adwords is statistically the highest ROI digital marketing effort a practice can utilize.

The most important aspect of Google Adwords to remember is that these ads allow you to outrank your competitors for only the most relevant searches and keywords related to the services of your practice for those searching in your area.  Also, these ads are shown above the organic search results, so even if a competitor’s website outranks yours, your ad can be shown above their website.  

But, running a Google Adwords strategy on your own may be more complex than it seems and can result in wasting a large amount of dollars if not implemented and monitored correctly.  Knowing what kinds of phrases indicate a patient is simply doing research versus those terms that a patient is specifically looking for a physician can be the difference of hundreds or thousands of dollars in a month.

Social Media Marketing

According to a 2017 Pew Research Study, 67% of all Americans get at least half their news from Social Media sites.  This represents a significant shift from print and TV being the primary news sources, but does not seem all too surprising considering that the average American spends almost two hours per day on social media sites.

The likely reason for these shifts is that social media sites like Facebook serve as aggregate news sites where users can get information from all their trusted news sources, from local newspapers to national TV networks, in one single place.  Platforms like Facebook recognized very early on how to monetize the time users spent on the site or app by allowing for highly targeted advertisement being shown to their over 1 billion users.

In most cases, medical practices conceptualize social media as a place where people post pictures of their children, pets and food.  While that may be what you see externally, internally Facebook and Instagram have an incredible amount of data about their users that can be used to target specific ads to potential patients in your area.  These platforms track data points that include your age, gender, location, purchases you make, websites you have visited, interests you have and thousands of other data points.  All of this data can be used to create a behavior profile of a patient that may be in need of your services and target them with ads both on social media and on other websites they visit.

Facebook and Instagram ads are imperative for brand awareness and have become the modern newspaper or magazine ads and are far more cost effective.

What digital healthcare marketing strategies are your practice implementing to help build brand awareness with your patients?

 

daniel-goldberg

About the Author 

Daniel Goldberg is the CEO of Gold Medical Marketing and has been a thought leader for almost a decade in the field of Healthcare Marketing. Daniel has also lectured at some of the most esteemed medical conferences in the country and has contributed to many healthcare industry publications on the topics of Medical Marketing and Direct to Patient Marketing.  Daniel and his team at Gold Medical Marketing have helped practices around the country implement unique marketing strategies based on their specialty and unique patient demographics.

3 Proven Ways to Improve Practice Profitability and Clinical Performance Using Outcomes

outcomes-blog“Why should we collect data?”

“What’s the ROI of PROs?”

“How do providers and practices use outcomes data most effectively?”

These are great questions, and we get them all the time. Prospects, clients, and partners constantly look for the most valuable and effective ways to utilize outcomes data. Our answers and advice typically vary, but we inevitably reply with a question of our own: “What are your goals?” Clinic goals, quality goals, business goals, marketing goals and others factor into play when utilizing quality data.

This article focuses on the three that, in our opinion, provide the most significant ROI potential for a PRO collection program:

  • Negotiating with payers
  • Internal physician quality reviews
  • Marketing

At OBERD, we know our role: we’re the data collection experts. And for good reason: Our clients likely don’t think about data collection nearly as much as they’re thinking about how to improve their practice, how to differentiate their providers, and how to grow margin by negotiating more favorable reimbursements from payers. Outcomes data plays a role in all three. Let’s dig in.

Below, we identify three core initiatives common at most orthopaedic institutions and discuss how quality data plays a key role each.

Payer Negotiation

When preparing for payer negotiations, administrators, QA staff and physicians can gather and utilize outcomes and satisfaction data that highlight the practice’s attention to quality and demonstrate its continuous improvement in outcomes scores.

Armed with quality data relating to patients and procedures, administrators can drill down and have data-driven negotiations with payers to gain more favorable reimbursement rates in contracts.

And it’s worth it to payers. If they know a provider has high (and predictable) quality metrics, they know the provider will, more than likely, get it right the first time. They can hedge against re-admissions and complications because they have the data that demonstrates low risk.

This is especially useful in larger metropolitan areas where competition for the patient population is fierce. Providers and institutions who can demonstrate quality and value, backed by data, are a safer bet for payers.

Physician Reviews

Administrators and quality managers may struggle with physician quality reviews if they’re not armed with data-driven quality and satisfaction metrics. PRO data, especially when blended with Satisfaction data, can give an administrator a quantified view of the quality a physician provides.

Practical use cases include identifying why a surgeon’s quality scores are high for a specific surgery (or even a specific patient cohort), and utilizing that data to refine methods for other under-performing providers.

Imagine the following conversation between an administrator and surgeon: “Dr. Smith, can no longer perform a total knee for patients with a BMI over 20 because outcomes scores are too low and it makes the practice vulnerable to margin if it affects our payer contracts. Dr. Smith needs to adjust your process, perhaps by adopting Dr. Jones’s approach because Dr. Jones’s scores are above average on benchmarking reports. Or we can change workflow triage that patient cohort (<20 BMI) out of Dr. Smith’s patient schedule.”

Data-driven Marketing

It seems like every time we hear about an orthopaedic surgeon, you also hear, “he’s the best” or “she’s the best.”

Surely not every surgeon is the best, even among their local market or patient population. But practices and providers have benefited from anecdotal reputations like, “he’s the best” for years. In the future, a claim of being, “the best” needs to be backed up.

Just like so many other consumer purchasing decisions, prospective patients are first turning to the internet for reviews and fact-finding about a surgeon prior to going for a consult. Practices and providers who collect data can also demonstrate quality by leveraging data in data-driven marketing messaging.

Savvy practices have already begun advertising their data collection initiatives. Advertising shows how providers collect quality data using patient questionnaires in order to tailor care to a unique patient, or make recommendations based on “patients like you.”

That line of advertising instills a sense of ownership in the patient. They intuitively understand that the questionnaires they complete play a role in the care they receive, giving them an onus of control in the process. Therefore, data collection is an effective, credible way to market value-based care.

As seen in OBERD’s Insights Blog.

Are You PDMP Ready?

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid addiction claims 115 lives and sends more than 1,000 people to emergency rooms every day, and has killed 64,000 people in 2016. It is the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old.

Prescription opioids are a main factor in the crisis. Although there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain reported by Americans, opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999.

What’s being done to help?  Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are state-run drug-monitoring programs that collect and track controlled-substance prescriptions in a searchable database. They provide physicians with intelligence about prescribing and patient behavior that can help them make appropriate prescribing decisions. Learn how you can get PDMP ready:infographic-srs-pdmp

May your holidays and new year be filled with peace and prosperity!

Happy Holidays

Now is the perfect time to reflect upon the past year and those who have helped to shape our business. You!

We are truly inspired by physicians and healthcare professionals who are dedicated to providing the best care for their patients, and delighted to help them do so now and in the future.

May your new year be filled with good health, happiness, and success!

Happy Holidays,
Your SRS Health Team

Like Holiday Gifts, “Patient-centric Care” is about Quality, Not Quantity

The end of the December is a time for reflection on the closing year, and for making plans for the new one. It’s a time for top-ten lists and New Year’s resolutions. But for now, let’s focus on one of the top buzzwords of the year in healthcare: Patient-centric care. 

It’s actually been several years now that patient-centric care has been gaining buzz-worthy status, and like most trendy new concepts, it has often been used without a clear consensus on what it actually means. Most recently, for instance, it has become a catchall term for any care that offers a more comprehensive focus on the patient. And that should make us pause and think—how in the world did medicine ever lose its comprehensive focus on the patient? There have been many factors, to be sure, but the primary driver seems to have been physicians’ and practices’ need to align themselves with payment models that rewarded the volume of visits over the value of care.

This has permeated all levels of healthcare for many years. Whether it was the development of healthcare IT strategies, the crafting of EHR systems, the HIMSS stages of adoption and utilization, or the use of performance scorecards and data warehouses and analytics—all the focus was on maintaining high volumes of patient care, while a comprehensive approach to the patient often got lost in the flood of individual symptoms, tests, and treatments.

That is, until the recent sea change in the industry that shifted payment models from rewarding for quantity to rewarding for quality. This was a necessary correction, but the resulting increase in focus on value-based contracts puts healthcare providers at risk for the total cost and quality of care provided.  It has also highlighted significant holes in IT and data strategies that need to be addressed if an organization is successful in this new payment paradigm. At the top of that list of necessary improvements is patient engagement.

How to Engage? 

Patient engagement isn’t something that takes place at one point on the healthcare continuum—it’s a way of reorganizing the care continuum so that patient input and feedback are integral parts of the process at every step. Proper patient engagement aims to:

  • Involve patients in their own healthcare, leading to better outcomes and increased patient satisfaction;
  • Meet patient expectations for better ways to access and engage with their healthcare information and data;
  • Automate patient intake and other processes, helping to secure ROI;
  • Leverage patients to enter data, freeing practice staff to focus on patient care;
  • Improve communication between patients and caregivers;
  • Improve compliance with government regulations; and
  • Provide a global platform for patient access that spans multiple facets of the practice, i.e. physical therapy, urgent care, and other office locations.

This means that, when it comes to IT issues, practices need to choose the right vendor if they want to make patient engagement a reality. They need a vendor who does more than just sell a one-size-fits-all solution; they need a partner in the process of restructuring established workflows for greater efficiency, reduced costs, and better patient engagement. Achieving this is a big enough task on its own, so it’s important to minimize any potential challenges to adoption. The solution has to be:

  • Easy-to-use for both patients and practice staff;
  • Vendor neutral (not limited to the products of a specific manufacturer);
  • Data standardized, so the data can be accurately exchanged between different systems, increasing confidence of both doctors and patients; and
  • Able to connect and communicate with EHRs, HIEs, and ACOs.

As we move from volume- to value-based reimbursement, it is critical to understand how to best utilize the available tools and solutions to get patients actively engaged in their healthcare. Achieving this goal won’t be easy, but we will be creating better outcomes for both patients and for the practices that care for them. Is this at the top of your list for the New Year?

Achieving Outcomes Success

How do you improve outcomes? By collecting and reviewing quality and clinical data, comparing it to practice-wide and national benchmarks, identifying the most effective protocols and their impact on revenue, then standardizing best practices across the organization. These simple steps can greatly improve not only clinical objective outcomes, but patient reported outcomes as well—resulting in an improved reputation, an increase in patient referrals, and a stronger bottom line.

See how utilizing the right data can improve patient care, and standardize success: Achieving Outcomes Blog Image

Check out, Managing Outcomes and the Transition to The Value- Based Care World  to learn more on how proving outcomes for your patients, improves income for your practice.