Your Top 5 Medical Practice Marketing Questions Answered

Lea Chatham March 26th, 2013

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Laurie Morgan & Judy Capko

At the recent webinar, Medical Practice Marketing for Profitability, Laurie Morgan and Judy Capko of Capko and Company discussed many strategies for effectively marketing your medical practice. If you missed Medical Practice Marketing for Profitability, watch the recorded webinar to find out about Laurie and Judy’s great suggestions. They received many good questions and were unable to answer them all. Here are answers to five of the most common questions that were asked by attendees.

Q: I read in an article that Social Media use for medical patient communications is going to be the highest law suit for HIPAA Violations, since they are not well secure developed. What do you think?
A:  HIPAA applies to social media in the same way it applies to all aspects of your business. You need to follow the same rules. If you use social media, it is important to remember this and be careful not to divulge any information that identifies a patient or provides information about a patient. If a patient says something to you on Facebook for example, you will need to be ready to reply in a way that redirects the conversation to a secure location. You can say something like, I would like to discuss this with you please call my office.

Q: Can the Google programs be set up without activating the “reviews” portion?
A:  Unfortunately, no. A lot of people are concerned about this, but we really see it as an opportunity. First, it can give you a chance address legitimate concerns that will affect other patients’ perceptions of your practice—for example, if the scheduling process is causing complaints because it’s too difficult, or if wait times in your reception area are more of an annoyance than you realized. Studies also show that the majority of reviews posted about physicians are positive—and the negative ones are mostly related to fixable administrative issues—so, some of the fears that people have are misplaced. Finally, if there is a truly illegitimate review that has been posted maliciously, most sites provide a means to get those removed.

Q: What is the best way to connect with potential referring physicians? Lunch? Stopping by to drop off lunch? Phone calls?
A: This may depend on your practice (location, specialty, etc.) and who your referring providers are. Your goal is to build lasting relationships. Ideally, the communication should be between the providers (not staff). This could be a phone call or scheduling an in-person visit. If you are a new practice or you are adding new providers or services, you may want to host an open house lunch or other event to try to meet your potential referral network. Also, ongoing follow up through thank you cards, a small annual gift, birthday cards, communications about changes at the practice, etc. is important.

Q: How does your recommendation about gifts relate to Federal Anti-Kickback and Stark Laws which prohibits solicitation (including gifts) of referrals?
A: These regulations are designed to prevent you from “buying” referrals. They do allow you to provide nominal gifts. We generally say nothing valued at more than $50. We also suggest gifts that can be enjoyed by the entire practice staff and not just the provider. For example, a fruit or candy basket or a cheese cake from a great local bakery.

Q. When do we know we should cut off new patient intake?
A. This is a big decision. You need to be cautious because once you say you are not taking patients, this can backfire and cause your patient load to decrease. So be sure this is the right choice. Do a thorough evaluation of your schedule and make sure you can’t make changes to accommodate additional appointments. Be sure you are meeting all of your revenue and growth goals. And determine if this may be a time to consider building the practice by adding another provider as opposed to limiting additional patients. If after all this, you decide that in fact you are not taking more patients, then go forward.

If you found this information helpful, then you might also enjoy our next webinar, What You Need to Know about Meaningful Use Now.

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