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May 26, 2011

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May 26, 2011

May 26, 2011

Social Media: If You’re Not Online, You’re Missing the Boat

According to the latest statistics, nearly 150 million Americans are searching for information online and the vast majority of them are searching for healthcare information. This represents a platinum opportunity for healthcare practices to connect with potential new patients and communicate with professional referral sources in cyberspace…

The idea of connecting you to patients and medical professional peers quickly and easily is extremely powerful and has profound implications for future quality of care as well as for how health information is distributed and how your practice is marketed.

Hospitals are adding “social media managers” to their employee rosters a sure sign of just how important social media has become in today’s world. Solo and group practices are also starting to jump on the social media bandwagon using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp and blogs to connect with the world. A 2008 study by Manhattan Research reports that 88 percent of physicians research on the Internet. Over 40 percent of all physician research is now done online.

Social media is now going mainstream in medicine. Research into how to harness its power to improve treatment and outcomes is ongoing. The Mayo Clinic launched its Center for Social Media site earlier this year, focusing its efforts on using social media to improve healthcare globally with the help of patients and physicians.

Your website is the first of many layers
A social media program adds critical layers to your online outreach efforts while promoting your practice brand and messaging. Today’s most effective outreach to patients and referral sources is most likely to occur through a multi-layered approach. The layers include your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp and blogging efforts.

In October 2010, Google and Bing announced that Twitter and Facebook are now indexing Facebook “posts” and Twitter “tweets”. This means live search results for posts and tweets are now appearing on these search engines along with the profile names. This is critical for patients who are searching for you online. Having your website appear in the search results is extremely important, but many patients are looking for more then just a website. They are looking for interaction and other ways to connect with you. Each of your social media accounts will appear in the live search results and allow new or existing patients to follow you and your practice based on the social medium they use most frequently.

Today’s smart phones and computing tablets like iPad have these social media account applications built right in. This is why your social media program should set up the most popular social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp and LinkedIn – for you.

Social networking works, whether you personally do it or not. You might not have a “Like” page on Facebook, a Twitter account or a company page on LinkedIn established today, but this shouldn’t stop you from having one tomorrow and taking advantage of the hottest trend to come along in decades.

How Social Media Sites Can Help Your Practice ?

There are hundreds of social media sites and new ones are being created all the time. With well over 650 million members worldwide, Facebook sits atop the current social media universe. But how can Facebook and other established social media sites help you and your practice?

Social media is quickly becoming a necessity for all kinds of healthcare practices. Here’s how the largest, most established social media sites are already being used in the healthcare field:

Facebook (650 million users worldwide) 

  • connect patients with information and support (wall posts can include text, links, videos and photos)
  • market your practice by encouraging patients to “like” your page and create a viral marketing effect
  • provide health care information, compliance and guidance through Facebook applications
  • create polls or surveys or request feedback on services or health  issues
  • create a business presence for your practice

Twitter (175 million users worldwide)

  • connect with patients
  • distribute health care information, such as drug safety alerts
  • updates on medical procedures
  • share links to other information that may not fit the 140-character limit

LinkedIn (90 million users worldwide)

  • connect with preexisting relationships or trusted mutual contacts
  • improve and maintain professional connections
  • market your practice
  • improve business opportunities
  • ask and answer relevant questions or post links to relevant articles as a means of enhancing your reputation as a “thought leader.”

YouTube (Americans view one billion videos every day)

  • public education on healthcare
  • patient and caregiver support
  • physician education
  • market your practice
  • express views on relevant legislative issues

Yelp (40 million users)

  • obtain patient reviews of your practice
  • market your practice

How Staff Training Can Increase Your Revenue

Poor telephone skills and untrained office staff can really hurt your practice in ways you may not have considered before. For example, you probably did not know that the average solo practitioner health practice loses at least $50,000-60,000 annually due to poor phone skills, and that number can go much higher…

The value of 200 lost phone inquiry calls
Even the American Medical Association (AMA) has weighed in on this issue. A recent AMA study shows that the average practice loses over 200 inquiry calls each year. In terms of real numbers, let’s say the average value of an initial evaluation and subsequent visits is $1000 per year. Then 200 lost inquiry calls could be costing you upwards of $200,000 annually. That’s potential revenue your practice is losing because your front desk or receptionist is not closing the caller or following up to set an appointment.

For larger, more diversified and multi-specialty practices, there may be 300, 400, 500 or more lost phone inquiry calls each year. Practices such as orthodontics, implant periodontics, dermatology and plastic surgery, with much larger average case sizes ($5,000 and up), stand to lose millions in potential revenue.

Sadly, these are unnecessary losses. With a small investment in just two or three days of proper staff training, your front desk and phone reception staff can learn to engage, capture and close every inquiry caller and turn most of those callers into patients or referral sources.

Your survival depends on doing it right
To survive in today’s highly competitive healthcare marketplace, you need people on your staff who understand the importance of patient service and satisfaction. Your staff must understand how they personally contribute to quality patient care, the success of your practice and your bottom line.

Staff training is completely customized to fit your unique practice needs. The best trainers are also experts in practice management. They understand the roles your staff must play to ensure your marketing success. They help you optimize and streamline staff communication skills. Whether you have a small, large and multi-specialty or multi-location practice, your staff should learn to

  • Attract the patients you want
  • Improve their telephone & customer service skills
  • Convert patient calls into appointments
  • Increase patient satisfaction & retention
  • Stimulate patient-to-patient referrals
  • Optimize your marketing program & tactics

Practice Builders has been providing staff training programs for every practice type and budget for over two decades. In addition to their extensive experience as business trainers, most of our training staff have worked inside healthcare practices. So you can rest assured that knowledgeable, experienced professionals are training your staff.

Learn how Practice Builders’ staff training programs can enhance your practice with improved customer service and added revenues. Call us at 800.679.1262 or email: info@PracticeBuilders.com.