How to Manage and Respond to Online Reviews

Patients can review your facility and providers on a myriad of sites including Facebook, Yelp, Google, and many, many more.  Be a part of the conversation rather than just the topic of conversation.  First, claim and update profiles.  Then, solicit reviews and respond to reviews.

Claim and Update Profiles

You have profiles…whether you want them or not.  Find, claim, and update.  Some of the most important are Google, Facebook, Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals, WebMD, RateMDs, and even the hospitals where your physicians work.  Bing, Doctor, Doximity, and UCompareHealthCare are probably our next most used review sites.  We also typically update anything that shows up on the first five pages of a Google search.

Be sure your NPI (National Provider Identifier) information is updated with CMS.  This auto-populates into a lot of websites.

You’ll need to have the following things handy when you start claiming: driver’s license, SOS (Secretary of State) filing, last four digits of DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) number, and piece of mail with physician name and address.

Establish an email that is designated for profiles, particularly for multi-doctor practices.  You can usually only use one email per site.  Some won’t allow a gmail account.

Add pictures, website links, and be exhaustive with information about the services provided in the practice.  List interests, clinical specialties, etc. as they will help patients find your office.  Also, be sure to list any languages, besides English, that are spoken in the office.  Include information about the physician’s training for websites that allow it.  A short bio is also very useful.  And, pictures are highly recommended.

Solicit Reviews

The best defense against negative reviews is a good offense. If you have lots of good reviews, a few bad reviews only makes your reviews look realistic.  Inviting patients to give feedback can be done through different avenues, and realistically, several methods of communication with a patient will likely yield a response.  Invitations should be separate from billing communications.

Email

An email with an online link to a review site (general online or customized to practice) should be sent to every patient, varying which review website you list in email based on where you need reviews and which sites allow it.

Office signage

A sign in the office or waiting room that asks patients to contact the practice administrator with compliments and complaints is another method.  This may solicit more negative feedback but getting that feedback where it’s contained in office and not on the internet for all to see is beneficial to the practice.  In addition, a sign with online review information can be displayed in the office lobby.  The sign can be very similar to the printed card.

Printed card for online reviews

This could be handed out with the office staff’s verbal ask or done alone.  This info can also appear on your patient forms.

“Thank you for choosing our practice.  We hope you had a great experience with us.  If there is anything we can do to improve your experience, please contact me personally.  I want to know so that I can fix it!  If there isn’t anything we can improve on, please tell the world using the links below.”  Then, offer the links, contact person, and phone number.  Some sites don’t allow for solicitation of reviews, so be sure to check the terms of service.  For those sites, consider just asking patients to check out your reviews on those sites.

Signature line in emails

How many emails do you send in a day?  Every one of those is an opportunity to gently lead people to sites where they can review your practice.

Social media

Including links to online review websites on the practice’s social media is another way to invite patient feedback.  Social media is a great resource for patient reviews and testimonials.

Text

A short text with a link to a website where a review can be given is very easy to send.  However, a patient should be asked for permission to receive text communication from the office.  And, be sure to only do this with review sites that allow solicitations.

Verbal request

Patients are more likely to give feedback if asked by your office staff at the end of their visit.  The office staff can verbally ask patients to leave a review when the patient checks out.  They can also give the patient a small, simple card  with info about how to leave a review online so the patient can take it with them.

Website

A note on your website requesting patients to contact the practice administrator with compliments and complaints is another feedback method.  This can be done through a “Contact Us” tab on the website that sends an email directly to the practice administrator. The website can also include links to online review sites.

Responding to Reviews

We only recommend a response to reviews that are recent…last three months or so.  Develop scripted responses for positive, neutral, and negative reviews.  We use an ever-growing list of about 20 varied responses for this.

Don’t be defensive.  Thank the reviewer for providing the information.  Don’t discuss their issue publicly.  Contact them directly or invite them to contact you at your direct phone number or email.

Most importantly, take the feedback seriously.  You won’t make everyone happy.  But, look at these reviewers as unpaid consultants or secret shoppers.  These patients are likely sharing things that have also happened to other patients.  If you see a trend of complaints on billing issues, wait times, or other areas, RESOLVE THEM.

If you have questions or need help with any of this, feel free to reach out to us!  We love helping with reputation management.  We can do it full service, something in between, and are even willing to teach your staff how to do it.  And, we can also help with resolving those issues.  We love secret shopping and training staff.

 

 

18 Reasons to See an OB/GYN in 2018

By Kristen Carmichael, MD

Resolutions are made at the beginning of every new year, and a lot of people tend to put health-related goals on their list of what they would like to achieve.  Annual physical exams are one of the ways women can maintain their New Year’s resolutions.  More specifically, having an annual women’s health check-up with an OB/GYN is a great way for women to monitor their health and well-being, and ensure they are being treated properly for any conditions that may arise throughout their lifetime.

There are multiple reasons why seeing an OB/GYN should be a goal for you during 2018.  Whether you want advice on waiting to start a family or if you are ready to have children right away, an OB/GYN can guide you through a wide-variety of women’s health issues, including those completely unrelated to child-bearing or pregnancy prevention.

Let’s take a look at 18 reasons why it is important for women to see an OB/GYN in 2018.

Women’s Health

(1) It may not be common knowledge that OB/GYNs can administer their own vaccinations.  You can actually get vaccines from your women’s health physician for human papillomavirus (HPV), the flu, and other viruses/conditions.

(2) Your OB/GYN can also help with weight management issues and discuss options of diet and exercise that are best tailored to your individual physical fitness level.

(3) If you have any issues with vaginal itching, dryness, discharge, or odor, these are all medical conditions that your OB/GYN will know about and can help you with proper treatment.

(4) Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in women due to bacteria getting into the urethra after sexual intercourse.  Your OB/GYN can provide you with tips on preventing UTIs and provide you with medication to help your system rid your body of the infection.

(5) Cancer screening can be done during an OB/GYN visit. Learn about how to test for and decrease your chance of ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers as well as colon cancer and breast cancer, which is the second most common cancer in American women.

(6) You can also have your annual health screening conducted with an OB/GYN.  They can test for high blood pressure, diabetes, and even bone density if it is something that applies to you.

(7) Many women battle with depression, and this is something your OB/GYN can discuss with you as you talk through the severity of your symptoms and how often they occur.

The Menstrual Cycle

(8) Problems with menstrual periods are another issue you can always discuss with your OB/GYN.  Your doctor can educate you about what your first period will be like if you haven’t had one yet, ways to improve heavy or irregular periods, and  changes to look for during your monthly period that may be abnormal.

(9) Your OB/GYN can also provide you with remedies for painful periods.

(10) Your physician is also a great resource for discussing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.  These symptoms vary among women, and you can talk with your doctor about solutions that work best for you.

Sexual Relationships

(11) The topic of sex can be openly discussed with your OB/GYN.  Your physician can explain what happens during intercourse, what may be causing pain during intercourse, and how hormonal changes can affect discomfort during sexual activity.

(12) Your OB/GYN can also discuss the ways to have safe and healthy sexual relationships with your significant other.

(13) Preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is very important. You should discuss with your doctor what steps you can take to lower your risk of becoming infected with an STI or with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

(14) Your OB/GYN can also administer a test for STIs and HIV if you are sexually active and would like to be tested.

Preventing Pregnancy and Getting Pregnant

(15) Seeing an OB/GYN gives you the opportunity to discuss birth control options with your physician.  OB/GYNs can help you determine which is the best method for you and your body, whether it be a pill, a patch, an implant, an intrauterine device (IUD), or another option.

(16) When you are ready to get pregnant, it’s important to discuss with your physician what steps to take to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy.

(17) Your OB/GYN can also conduct an official medical test to determine if you are pregnant.

Menopause and Post-Menopause

(18) An OB/GYN physician can also help you with the challenges you are experiencing during the menopausal and perimenopausal stages of your life.  Vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and irregular bleeding are all issues that should be discussed with your physician.  There are a variety of treatment options available to ease these common problems.

 

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to make seeing an OB/GYN in 2018 a top priority on your list of resolutions for a healthier 2018.  Make sure you get your annual exam scheduled with your OB/GYN.  If you do not have one, Dr. Kristen Carmichael at the Medical & Surgical Clinic of Irving is accepting new patients and is happy to welcome you into her office.

_____________________________________________________________

About Dr. Carmichael

Dr. Kristen Carmichael is an OB/GYN with the Medical & Surgical Clinic of Irving.  After completing her undergraduate degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, she went on to attend medical school at the University of Texas in Houston.  She has been in private practice since 2004.  She is a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, and many other organizations.  Dr. Carmichael has been awarded the Best OB/GYN in Las Colinas, Coppell, and Irving and has been recognized as a Mom-Approved Doctor by DFW Child.   She loves helping her patients achieve their best health and is most satisfied when they feel educated, engaged and empowered in their healthcare.

testimonials

Patient Testimonials to Showcase Your Medical Practice

Patient testimonials can be a great way to showcase your services and give prospective patients a flavor for your practice.  Use them on your social media and website.

Questions

Here are some questions to get the praise flowing:

  1. Why did you pick our practice/facility?
  2.  How did we improve your life?
  3. How did our staff and doctors show that we cared about you?
  4. What would you say to other patients that are considering the same procedure?

Pictures

Testimonials are always better with pictures.  It can be a simple picture of the patient or a before/after picture. Or even a picture of the doctor.  Better yet, a picture of the patient with the doctor!

Release

Always use a release – for name, for picture, for anything that identifies them.  I recommend keeping this in the patient’s electronic health record for easy access.  Don’t expect your marketing company or website company to keep up with it.  They won’t be the ones hit with a HIPAA violation – you will. If you don’t have a release, holler at us and we’ll share our template with you.

Format

Here’s an example of a great way to collect stories from patients from BMI of Texas. You might also consider working a release into this same tool.

You can also have patients fill out a comment card or pull positive reviews from online.  Create a custom graphic out of it and you have a great social media post!!  Here’s an example.

Video testimonials are ideal.  It’s best to hire a professional videographer that can film and edit the videos.  It is typically well worth the time and investment for the quality of videos.  Hire them for a block of time and you’ll save a lot.

If you go with the patient-made videos, a few items to consider:

  • Set up a drop box or some other online way for them to submit. The BMI way would likely work. The videos will likely be large enough that email won’t be effective.
  • Ask them to answer the three questions, plus anything else they want to share.
  • Consider having them break the questions up into three separate videos. This would require less editing, potentially.
  • Suggest they use a quiet place with a solid background that contrasts with their hair/skin color. For instance, don’t put a blonde/pale person on a tan background. Put them on a dark background.
  • Recommend they use the smartphone horizontally/landscape and balance the phone on something, maybe even a tripod to keep it still.
  • Tell them they need plentiful light. Take a test video to ensure the light is ample.
  • Here are some posts with specific info from people way smarter than us: How to Shoot Better Mobile Video, 7 Ways to Get Professional Quality Video on a Smartphone, and 9 Tips for Recording Better Video with Your Smartphone.

Good luck with your testimonials!  We look forward to reading them.

Book Review: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Stick with it. The first several chapters are building the groundwork.  I would pick it up here and there, but it wasn’t a page turner in the beginning.  Fortunately, one of my wise co-workers had recommended it.  And, she brings breakfast in a lot…to the office.  I couldn’t be a loser and not read the book recommended by one of my favorite co-workers and the source of endless taquitos, bagels, and London Fogs.

So, I kept reading.  A few pages at a time over the course of about a year.  Then, all of a sudden, it got amazing!  Like, can’t put it down…how have I waited this long to dive in…life changing book.

Personally, it forced me to deal with one of my least favorite things: feelings.  Yuck.  This book is all about letting your messy human self show and being vulnerable.  It’s a struggle for me.  I spent a good portion of my 20s in therapy learning how to be vulnerable.  And, this book reminded me in my mid to late 30s that it is still super important…and something you have to be intentional about.  So, what does this have to do with work (because clearly this isn’t a blog about breakfast and feelings)?

Leadership and the ability to be part of a team.  If Maslow had a pyramid about leadership, vulnerability would be near the top.  Your best leaders are strong, but show that they are human.  They have to in order for their teams to connect with them.  No one wants to follow a robot.  A robot can manage, but not lead. This plays heavily into the culture of your organization.

Brown quotes Peter Drucker in saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  Who knew leadership and breakfast do go together?!  No, really, you can have the most fantastic strategic plan.  But, if you have a culture where your team won’t follow you, good luck.  Here’s how Brown deciphers the culture in an organization…with 10 questions:
1. What behaviors are rewarded? Punished?
2. Where and how are people actually spending their resources (time, money, attention)?
3. What rules and expectations are followed, enforced, and ignored?
4. Do people feel safe and supported talking about how they feel and asking for what they need?
5. What are the sacred cows? Who is most likely to tip them? Who stands the cows back up?
6. What stories are legend and what values do they convey?
7. What happens when someone fails, disappoints, or makes a mistake?
8. How is vulnerability (uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure) perceived?
9. How prevalent are shame and blame and how are they showing up?
10. What’s the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalized, or is there a high premium put on comfort (and how does that look)?

How does your organization stack up to those questions?  Do you feel good about the answers?  If so, congrats.  If not, you should consider grabbing a taquito and spending your morning reading Daring Greatly.

Brown goes on to explain that shame and blame are no way to run successful organizations. She pushes to teach employees how to give and receive feedback in a way that fosters growth and engagement both personally and in the organization.  She uses an engaged feedback checklist as a tool to teach these skills.  My favorite on the list is, “I’m ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that I may not fully understand the issue.”

The key here is that this isn’t just for staff.  It starts with leaders.  Are you ready to be vulnerable to strengthen your team?  Whether you are ready or need some work, I strongly recommend this book as a great read for all leaders and all humans.

 

Staff Bios Made Easy

Staff bios should be fun and easy!  Don’t let them get you down.

We typically aim for competent and friendly…so explain why your team is both!  Include skills, training, education, certifications, work experience, languages, and something that makes them warm and fuzzy.  That can be why they love helping patients, their favorite thing about working with patients, or something personal that they feel comfortable sharing.  For example, Sara coaches 5 year old soccer when she isn’t at work or Suzy enjoys volunteering at her church.

It’s hard to write about yourself.  Ask the staff questions to have some consistency and then have a copy writer or someone on your team that loves writing craft them into bios.  You can do an interview with the questions and use the recording to write the bio or simply email them over and have the staff respond.  Some of our favorite bios came from an interview that the practice manager recorded.  We got a flair for their personality and could craft that into the bio this way.  You decide which will be more effective based on your team and time constraints.

Here are some questions we like:

  • Name as you’d like it listed
  • Title
  • Post-high school training and education?
  • Licenses or certifications?
  • Professional and personal organizations that you are a member?
  • Any particular areas of clinical interest?
  • What made you want to work at XYZ practice?
  • What do you love about caring for patients?
  • What do you wish you could tell every patient (and they would actually do) and why?
  • Do you speak any language other than English?
  • Fun fact about you?
  • What do you enjoy doing when not at work?
  • What city do you live in? Married? Kids? (if comfortable sharing…usually something along the lines of George lives in Dallas with his wife and teenage sons)
  • What brought you to XYZ city?
  • Do you have pets?

We are aiming for something like this:

Meet our Nurse, Susan.  She was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at University of Texas.  She is a Registered Nurse and has worked in family medicine since 2001. She joined XYZ practice because she had been a patient of Dr. X and had a wonderful experience with the practice.  When Susan isn’t at work, she loves running, volunteering with her church, and gardening.

Finally, always let the staff review the bio before publishing.  Include a picture and you are ready to go!  The picture can be casual…a shot of them at work in their uniform is perfect.

Engaging Participants at Health Fairs

Health fairs, community fairs, and expos can be a great way for a medical practice to engage with the local employers and the community.  This can build your brand and potentially be a source for finding new patients.  Having a booth isn’t good enough.  In fact, just having a booth alone is a waste of time. Participants need a reason to stop at your booth.  Set up an appealing booth, bring charismatic staff, and offer something to participants.

Having a great booth or table that is consistent with your brand is key to attracting attention.  Most venues offer chairs and tables.  Some offer electricity.  Take them up on these freebies.  Buy a nice table cloth with your logo on it and purchase accessories that match your brand.  Go spend $100 at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s to build up a nice set of accessories that you can use for all events.

Bring your staff and providers (if you have them) to interact with people.  You want participants to build a relationship with your doctors, NPs, PAs, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and any other team members.  This is an opportunity to showcase your team and let people see they are friendly and approachable.  Don’t bring someone that doesn’t want to be there; that will only hurt your brand.  And, pay your staff to be there; don’t ask them to volunteer.

The more interactive your table is, the more traffic you’ll get.  Offer cholesterol and glucose screenings.  Body Mass Index, blood pressure, are color blindnesses are easy and free.  Your practice could team up with someone like a local hospital doing screenings and do the patient education side.  Don’t stop with the screening.  Once you have the results, have participants interact with one of your providers by having them explain the results.  This is a great way to engage!  And, let them take the results home on a beautiful form that fits with your brand and just happens to have your website, address, and phone number.

If you can’t do a screening, quizzes are another option.  Sleep quality, stress level, and allergies are common examples.  Come up with a quiz participants can take and then have your staff talk to them about the results.

Label your own water bottles at health fairs

Free stuff is always a good draw.  Candy, water (with your label), trinkets, printed tips…always a good way to bring people in.  Find left-overs from employee events or anything with your logo on it.  Or, buy candy that matches your colors.  Keep it in line with your brand and have your information on it, but don’t let it be too salesy.

 

Drawings are an excellent way to get contact information at these

Use a drawing to get contact information at a health fair

events. Drop in a business card to win a fabulous basket of stuff that compliments your business.  Supply your own goodies or ask local vendors to chip in – free yoga class, free smoothie, free cyrotherapy session, etc.  And, then follow-up with everyone that you get contact information for.  Thank them for attending and share some information about your business.

Not getting a ton of people taking advantage of all these great things?  Have somoene get out from behind the table and go talk to people!  Tell them about your screenings/quizzes and bring them to your table. Take your freebies and walk around handing them out.

The key to these events in not just standing behind a table.  Be engaging and give people a reason to stop at your booth!

Common Sense Tips for Maintaining Primary Care Referrals

In addition to the normal things that would help maintain referrals, like good patient care and customer service, a few additional hints are offered.

Get a printed physician directory for the main hospitals that you are on staff at, preferably with pictures.  If there isn’t a published one, print it from the hospital website.   This is a good resource for being able to put a face with a name. It will allow the doctor to be able to personally thank those physicians for the referrals or update them on a patient when he/she runs into them in the doctor’s lounge or on the floor.  It can also help avoid the embarrassing situation when the other physician knows you, but you don’t know who they are.

When a referring physician calls your office, call them back right away.  Same goes for their staff.  Try to work their patients in as quickly as possible and offer them the back line number to call.  Also, it’s nice for them to have a point-of-contact in your office that they can reach out to if there is ever an issue or a need, such as an emergent patient, or even a patient with a billing issue.  And, if you are comfortable doing so, give them your cell phone number.

One of the biggest complaints we hear from primary care physicians is that they make a referral and then don’t know what happens to their patient. It is important to follow-up with the primary care doctors by getting reports back to them quickly and for something urgent, making a phone call or sending a text. A primary care doctor deserves to know right away if their patient is admitted or is given a major diagnosis. It is unfair for them to find out from the patient, and is embarrassing for them.  Ask what they want – clinic notes, operative report, imaging, imaging reports, pathology reports – and provide it to them consistently.  Also, confirm you are sending it to the right fax number.

Additionally, if a specialist needs to refer the patient to another physician, admit them, or operate on them, it’s recommended to reach out to the primary care doctor to the let them know and ask if they have any preferences. This is also something that can be covered in a quick face-to-face visit in the hallway or lounge, as some want to be involved in referrals and others don’t.  Many of the physician affiliated with a health system want them to stay within the system.

Imaging, lab, pharmacy, and other ancillary services are worthy of a conversation as well.  Does the primary care doctor have these services in their office?  If so, send back to them.  If not, do they have a preferred vendor?  Asking makes it easy to be successful.

Track it within your office to ensure compliance and check in with the referring physician once a year to confirm their preferences.

These are small acts, but certainly keep the primary care doctors from feeling like they are left in the dark. It shows them that their patients and their referrals are valued.

Professional photographers capture candid photos of physicians well

Professional Photography for Physicians? Waste or Must?

Definitely a must!  We’ve all seen the ad or the website with cheesy pictures.  It’s a real tragedy to spend several thousand dollars on an ad, but not a few hundred to get the right image.  Spend the money for a professional head shot, group shot, and even some action pictures.  A nice set of pictures should last the practice 2-3 years (unless they change physicians/offices) and will enhance advertisements and the website.

No time?  Most photographers will come to your office and they work pretty quickly.  You should be able to get a head shot done in 15 minutes.  Surely there’s time for that.

No money?  Buy a smaller ad and use the savings for the head shot.  You should be able to get a nice head shot for under $250.  This is an especially good use of resources as the head shot can likely be used in other venues – hospital website, speaking engagements, etc.  Or, contact your local high school or college.  Photography students often work cheap…and sometimes even free to build their portfolios.

When you start photographing the entire group or staging action shots, the time and price definitely increases.  However, it’s still in the several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars range.  Divide this among a group of five or even 25 physicians and incrementally it’s just not that much.  And, photos of your actual practice are certainly preferred over stock images.

Here are some of our recent favorites.  These were all shot by our staff on-site and in well under an hour!

 

Physician Bios Made Easy

Physician Bios Made Easy

Is writing physician bios making you crazy?  Let us help with these tips.

First, decide what you are going for.  We are usually shooting for smart, academic, accomplished….all while being approachable.  We use training, accolades, skills to convey the first part and humanizing the docs for the second part.

Then, decide what content you want to convey.  It’s hard to write about yourself.  Typically, asking the docs to send you a bio to use isn’t very helpful.  Ask them set questions to have some consistency and then have a copy writer or someone on your team that loves writing craft them into bios.  You can do an interview with the questions and use the recording to write the bio or simply email them over and have the docs respond.  You decide which will be more effective based on your physicians and time constraints.

Here are some questions we like:

  • Name as you’d like it listed:
  • Where did you complete undergrad, medical school, internship, residency, fellowship?
  • Any other notable training we should mention (robotic surgery, urogynecology, procedures)?
  • Any particular areas of clinical interest?
  • What made you want to become a doctor?
  • What do you love about practicing medicine?
  • What do you wish you could tell every patient (and they would actually do) and why?
  • Fun fact about you?
  • What do you enjoy doing when not at work?
  • What city do you live in? Married? Kids? (if comfortable sharing…usually something along the lines of Dr. Smith lives in Dallas with her husband and teenage sons)
  • What brought you to Dallas?
  • Do you have pets?

Essentially, you are trying to draw out facts that will help you convey the personality of the physicians.  If you can make them seem approachable, it really helps “sell” the patients on them.  We are aiming for something like this:

Jane Smith was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and received a Bachelor of Science at University of Texas.  She completed medical school of University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas and both her internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She has extensive training in minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as laparoscopic and robotic surgery.  She enjoys all aspects of Obstetrics and Gynecology, including wellness, infertility, and surgery.  When Dr. Smith isn’t at work, she loves spending time with her family, snow skiing, reading European historical fiction, UT football, and volunteering with the SPCA.

Finally, always let the doctors review the bio before publishing.  Include a head shot and you are ready to go!