3 Ways Clutter Can Affect Your Success

Lea Chatham October 29th, 2014

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1950409800_01d5a2e270_zBy Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

Clutter really does affect your success: there have been studies that prove it impacts the way employers and coworkers view your ability to do your job. Forbes ran an article called “The Dangers Of A Messy Desk” where a study clearly showed that co-workers judge other’s work habits by their cleanliness, and Office Max did a similar study with similar results.


Here are three ways that those piles on your desk bring your professional success to a halt:Tweet this Kareo story

  1. You lose important information. The argument that it has to be in your view in order for you to remember to do it loses its power when you stop seeing the item that is in front of you. Honestly, what important piece of paper have you frantically looked for in the past few months?
  2. You get overwhelmed. How many times have you said, “I can’t deal with that right now, I’ll get to it later”? How many times did you actually get to it and do it the way you should have?
  3. You look inefficient. People assume that you are just like your work area: overwhelmed by piles of papers and stuff while you stop seeing what’s in front of you and lose important information.

This isn’t just a workplace problem. UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families came out with a book on our clutter culture in America that is kind of fascinating, appalling, and convicting all at the same time. But we don’t have to be handcuffed by our clutter habits!

Get real and start small. Take ten or fifteen minutes (set the timer) and work on one pile…and stop at the end of that time. Do this every day and you will begin to see a big difference. There’s all sorts of decluttering advice out there, but the big thing is doing it; if you wait until you have time to do it all, you probably never will.

Take a picture of your desk, cubicle, office, or work area, and look at it. Be honest, now. What would you think if that were a coworker’s space? If you were the boss, would you want that person working for you? If you like the way it looks, then maintain it. If you don’t like the way it looks, you have the ability to change it – a little at a time.

About the Author

Erin KennedyErin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.

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The 9 Essential Questions to Ask a Potential Practice Manager

Lea Chatham October 28th, 2014

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Tweet This Kareo StoryBy Lisa A. Eramo

Twenty or more years ago, hiring a practice manager wasn’t necessarily a difficult task. It often meant simply looking for someone with strong organizational and filing skills and perhaps clerical experience.

Today, it’s a different story.

Today’s practice mangers wear many hats. In addition to being operational directors, they often serve not only as human resources managers, but also as financial officers, information technology consultants, marketing gurus, and billing/documentation experts. This is particularly true for those working in smaller practices or for solo practitioners. Practice managers in these settings have been—and always will be—a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak.

Philip L. Dickey, MPH, PHR, HR services director/partner at DoctorsManagement, LLC, a consulting firm in Knoxville, TN says the role of practice manger has evolved over time and continues to expand to include a much more technical and diverse skillset. This is due, in part, to increasingly complex governmental regulations such as PQRS and Meaningful Use. Practice managers often oversee the day-to-day operations of a practice while also helping physicians meet demanding regulatory requirements and compliance.

Dickey provides insight into the questions physicians should consider when hiring someone for the critical role of practice manager. Tweet this Kareo story

  1. What training and experience does the individual have? Although higher education is not a requirement, Dickey says a bachelor’s degree in health services or health administration, for example, can be helpful. More importantly, though, is the individual’s actual experience working in a medical setting. “If they have come up through the ranks and have a proven track record of being successful as a practice manager, well, in my opinion, that’s just as good [as education],” he says.
  2. What coding/billing experience does the individual have? Coding is becoming increasingly important in physician practices, not only for reimbursement but also for quality ratings, audits, and more. As the industry transitions to ICD-10, physicians must ensure that they hire a practice manager who has knowledge of coding or who isn’t afraid to learn more, says Dickey. Also look for someone who can read/interpret financial statements, negotiate favorable contracts with payers, run detailed financial and productivity-related reports, and work closely with the practice’s accountant, he adds.
  3. How does the individual relate to physicians? Can the individual communicate effectively and respectfully with physicians? In smaller practices, this question is especially important because the practice manager has much more direct contact with physicians and other staff members, says Dickey. A strong practice manager should be able to advocate for change within the practice, when necessary, and engage in productive dialogue with physicians at all times.
  4. How polished are the individual’s interpersonal skills? Interpersonal skills are one of the most important traits that a practice manager must possess. He or she must be able to communicate effectively with other staff members as well as patients. The individual should possess a customer service-oriented mindset and feel comfortable answering patients’ questions and making patients feel comfortable.
  5. Does the individual enjoy working on a team? Smaller practices should hire someone who doesn’t mind being what Dickey calls a “working manager”—that is, someone who is willing to pitch in and ‘roll up their sleeves,’ when necessary. When working in a smaller practice, the practice manager should be open to cross-training so that he or she understands each role within the practice and can help out in the event that other staff members are on vacation, out sick, or resign unexpectedly.
  6. What leadership experience does the individual possess? Is he or she able to garner respect from others? In what other leadership roles has the individual served? What did he or she enjoy most about those roles? What did he or she enjoy least? Leadership experience is important because it denotes an individual’s ability to effect change within the practice and lead important initiatives such as an EHR implementation or the transition to ICD-10. In addition to being a leader, Dickey says practices should look for someone who is ethical and perseverant. Candidates should be able to articulate why these adjectives pertain to them as well.
  7. How does the individual handle conflict? Conflict within a practice setting is bound to occur whether it’s disagreement about a particular vendor to choose, how to address negative patient feedback, how to handle a dispute between employees, or a variety of other reasons. An effective practice manager should be able to address conflict directly and in a professional and respectful manner.
  8. What’s the individual’s comfort level working with technology? Today’s practice managers often oversee the entire EHR implementation, including choosing a vendor and working with that vendor to deploy the application. Practice managers also often choose and implement practice management software. If the practice manger is comfortable with using technology him or herself, he or she can also have a positive influence on physicians, making them comfortable with using it as well, says Dickey. “A practice manager is an IT person to some extent. They have to become knowledgeable about what kind of system they need and which ones are best. It’s a substantial investment of money and time for the practice,” he adds. Technology also includes Web sites and social media. Practice managers should feel comfortable working with web designers to produce content for the practice’s website, and they should also have some baseline knowledge of how to use social media to promote the practice.  As practices implement EHRs with patient portals, the practice manager should be able to answer questions and help patients navigate this technology as well.
  9. What other skills and experience can the individual bring to the table? At a minimum, practice managers should have strong organizational skills and experience working with Word and Excel. EHR experience is a plus. Some practices may also find it beneficial to hire someone who has experience working as part of an Accountable Care Organization if that’s an avenue that the practice is exploring.

Ultimately, physicians must assess whether the individual has the right mix of skills, knowledge, and personality. Don’t hesitate to wait for the right candidate, says Dickey. If the pool of candidates is limited, consider expanding the search beyond those who have experience working in a medical setting. For example, those who are business savvy or who may have been successful entrepreneurs in the past could become excellent practice managers with just the type of drive and confidence that a practice needs, he adds.

About the Author

LisaEramofreelanceLisa A. Eramo is a freelance writer/editor specializing in health information management, medical coding, and healthcare regulatory topics. She began her healthcare career as a referral specialist for a well-known cancer center. Lisa went on to work for several years at a healthcare publishing company. She regularly contributes to healthcare publications, websites, and blogs, including the AHIMA Journal and AHIMA Advantage. Her focus areas are medical coding, and ICD-10 in particular, clinical documentation improvement, and healthcare quality/efficiency.


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Kevin MD Answers Your Social Media Questions

Lea Chatham October 23rd, 2014

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Watch Kevin MD Webinar NowLast week, Kevin Pho, MD, founder of Kevin MD, presented an interesting webinar, Define Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Approach, where he talked about why and how physicians should manage their online reputation. The presentation was packed with great information and anecdotes. Afterwards, many attendees had great questions. Here, Dr. Pho answers a few of the most common questions participants had.



Q: Does paid advertising with services like Yelp improve your rankings on online search or increase your chance at positive reviews? Tweet this Kareo story
A: Paid advertising may help improve your search rankings and even drive some traffic to your website but it probably won’t increase positive reviews. The best thing for getting more reviews is to encourage your patients to post reviews after their visits.

Q: How can you increase positive reviews?
A:  The best way to increase positive reviews is encourage your patients to submit reviews. You can do this when you interact in person or through follow up after a visit. Some tools like Demandforce and ZocDoc allow you to send a follow up text or email with a link to leave a review. Handing our cards that ask for reviews with links can work as well.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?
A: First, listen to the reviews. Often negative reviews provide feedback you can use to improve your practice. Let the reviewer know that you want to fix the problem. If it is specific to the patient, take it offline. Ask the patient to contact the clinic, so you can handle the situation privately. If it is more general, you can respond when you’ve made a change or addressed it. The key is to take the feedback seriously and work to make improvements. If you work to get patients to give you those good reviews, then a few negative reviews won’t have a huge impact. Try to avoid getting into a battle with a patient online or through legal means. This can just make the situation worse.

Q: What if the review is truly false?
A: If it is truly false, some services will allow you to dispute and may remove it. Again, I’d recommend avoiding a battle online. Legal action should be considered an absolute last resort. Such measures can cause you to get more negative publicity, and worsen your online reputation. Try to let it go if you can.

Q: I feel uncomfortable using a site like Facebook, but I would like to network with other physicians. Is there a tool for that or a way to use social media just for that?
A: If you are only ready to interact with your peers right now, you can use secure physician only networking sites like Sermo and Doximity. LinkedIn is also more for professional networking. 

Q: How do I update my information on sites like Healthgrades or Vitals? Tweet this Kareo story
A: Each site has its own process. You generally have to claim your information and then you can update it. It is important to do this so that you can ensure your information is accurate.

Q: How can I improve my rankings for local searches like cardiologist in XX city?
A: One of the best ways to ensure you get good rankings in local searches is to be sure that your practice name, specialty, and location are on every page of your website, blog, and social media in exactly the same way. Also, claim and update as many listings as possible. There is some good information on search engine optimization, including local searches, in this guide from Kareo.

Did you miss the webinar? Never fear, you can watch it now.

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6 Benefits to Using the Cloud in Healthcare

Lea Chatham October 21st, 2014

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By Scott E. Rupp

Tweet This Kareo StoryCloud has been a trending topic in healthcare for several years. Even after several iterations, the concept seems to have settled in the mainstream and is finding acceptance throughout healthcare. The cloud provides for convenient, efficient, cost effective, and safe solution delivery. Tweet this Kareo story
Organizations are successfully using the solutions to store and transfer data as more and more evidence points to the cloud being secure; storing information there often means greater protections for organizations in the event of catastrophe—weather, flood and tornado—and the information can easily be exchanged and retrieved.

Other benefits of using the cloud are numerous and many are widely cited, but here are some of the best reasons to implement the solutions, in no particular order:

  1. Cloud as collaboration tool: According to the Cloud Credential Council cloud-based collaboration tools help caregivers engage patients and view medical information. “Such capabilities are critical in situations where a patient may wish to seek advice from more than one medical practice. The ability to grant the patient control over who has access to their medical data could revolutionize primary healthcare delivery,” the organization states. Collaboration extends to fellow caregivers, too. Information flows easier when the cloud is in use and allows for remote consultations and patient visits and for the review of information. Additionally, care teams have up-to-date patient information at their fingertips that can be exchanged electronically by e-prescription, ordering and viewing labs, and through a patient portal.
  2. Upgrade in mobility: Mobile Tweaks suggests that by storing data in the cloud, healthcare providers ensure their staffs have access to information anywhere and anytime. Mobility provides medical personnel access to a plethora of information from any location and from a whole set of devices anywhere. Cloud and mobile concepts in healthcare are a far cry from their predecessors of paper-based, on-premise only information systems and data exchanges.Tweet this Kareo story
  3. Security in the cloud: HIPAA requires clouds to operate in a secure environment and for service providers to comply with the standards set to protect personal information. Clouds are typically created with built-in security controls. For some added perspective, the number of attacks on cloud systems is increasing at the same rate as it is for on-premise solutions. According to Rack Space, “From 2012 to 2013, vulnerability scanning attacks jumped from 27 percent to 44 percent for cloud-hosted environments, and from 28 percent to 40 percent for on-premise datacenters.”
  4. Analytics and information: Cloud solutions allow for the collection of and analyzing of data. According to IBM, applying analytical methods, such as statistics and predictive and quantitative models, provides better insights and outcomes. “As far back as 2010, there is evidence that 93 percent of providers identified information explosion as the biggest factor anticipated to influence their organizations to a large extent over the next five years.”
  5. Cloud lowers costs: Clouds alleviate the need for hardware infrastructure and the need to invest in these technologies, leading to a reduction of costs for the practice. Additionally, there are fewer long-term financial commitments for services and fewer minimal upfront costs for cloud services used. “The true power of cloud is what the technology, implementing rapidly deployed services in the cloud, can mean for your business,” Wired reports.
  6. Backup and recovery options: The cloud alleviates backup and recovery of data. Most cloud service providers provide backup and recovery for their clients and they are able to handle recovery of all stored information in an efficient manner. This makes moving to the cloud beneficial to small practices, especially those that are unable dedicate resources to managing complex networks and manually managing security.

By engaging a cloud services provider, practices can continue to focus on the business development and practice. Moving data to the cloud and partnering with a vendor that can manage the responsibilities of protecting the data is often a worthwhile investment for practices that lack the in-house experience or expertise to ensure that they, and their patients, are protected. If they make the move, there are clear benefits along the way.

About the Author

SRuppScott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.

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Understanding Cultural Context Is Important in Your Medical Practice

Lea Chatham October 15th, 2014

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Tweet this Kareo storyBy Lisa A. Eramo

Taking the time to understand a patient’s cultural context not only enhances a physician’s ability to diagnose and prescribe treatment, but it also helps create a closer bond that can lead to better outcomes.Tweet this Kareo story
In an increasingly diverse society in which racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural health disparities exist, it’s important for physicians to evaluate their own cultural competence to ensure that they can deliver care that is both sensitive and informed.

The Office of Minority Health defines cultural competence as a “set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations.” In medical practices, being culturally competent means that physicians understand, respect, and take into consideration patients’ health beliefs, health practices, and cultural and linguistic needs.

In a video about how effective healthcare communication contributes to health equity, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) identifies the following cultural factors that can contribute to health disparities: gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, language, physical and mental capacity, age, religion, housing status, and regional differences. There is also often further diversity within specific cultural and ethnic groups. Identifying these factors can help to ensure positive health outcomes.

HRSA provides a web-based training course, “Effective Communication Tools for Healthcare Professionals,” that helps providers respond to patients’ cultural and linguistic needs. HRSA also provides various other resources to help providers address patients’ unique needs.

It’s important for today’s physicians to be culturally competent because they practice in an increasingly diverse society, says Darci L. Graves, MPP, MA, MA, senior health education and policy specialist with the Health Determinants and Disparities Practice (HD&D Practice) at SRA International, Inc. The HD&D Practice currently manages Think Cultural Health, an online clearinghouse of resources hosted by the Office of Minority Health. To become culturally competent, physicians need to consider a patient’s cultural framework as well as their own biases and assumptions, she says.

“Even if you look the same on the outside, chances are, you’re still having a cross-cultural encounter,” says Graves. Differences in religion, for example, may exist. Being culturally competent and sensitive means that physicians don’t ask cookie cutter questions but rather take the time to get to know each patient individually and adapt questions accordingly. This allows for a much more thorough and accurate history and exam, she adds. It also helps answer questions such as why a patient may not take a certain medication or follow through with treatment recommendations. In general, understanding cultural context can enhance the overall clinical picture and help providers render more informed care.

Cultural competency also enhances communication and understanding. A patient who won’t make eye contact, for example, isn’t necessarily disinterested in the clinical information a physician provides, says Graves. “That could just be their way of showing deference,” she says, adding that in certain cultures, this behavior is commonplace.

More thoughtful questions and communication can also help patients feel more connected to their physicians.Tweet this Kareo story
This, in turn, can lead to better patient engagement, compliance with medical treatment, and outcomes. Physicians who take the time to understand their patients’ complete stories may experience better patient retention.

According to kevinmd.com, responding to the unique needs of each patient, including his or her spirituality, contributes to patient-centered and family-focused care can enhance both patient safety and satisfaction.

Cultural competence is important for all providers, which is why it’s a focus area for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). More specifically, the AAMC strives to promote a “culturally competent, diverse, and prepared health and biomedical workforce that leads to improved health and health equity.”

However, today’s physicians practice an increasingly challenging and regulatory-driven environment that minimizes the time they’re able to spend with patients. Cultural competence is just one part of this complex environment, and it’s one that’s constantly evolving.

Graves says physicians shouldn’t feel burdened by cultural competence but rather empowered by it. “It’s not about adding something extra—it’s about tweaking what you already do. It’s about making sure that the questions you’re asking as well as how you’re asking those questions is culturally appropriate,” she says.

The National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (the National CLAS Standards) include several principles designed to foster health equity.

The Office of Minority Health also provides a blueprint that practices can use to operationalize these principles. Providers can register for free to download this document titled, “A Blueprint for Advancing and Sustaining CLAS Policy and Practice.” For example, the blueprint encourages providers to inform all individuals of the availability of language assistance services clearly and in their preferred language (verbally and in writing); provide easy-to-understand print and multi-media materials and signage in the languages commonly used by the populations in the service area; and partner with the community to design, implement, and evaluate policies, practices, and services to ensure cultural and linguistic appropriateness.

The Commonwealth Fund suggests that providers should modify intake forms to include questions regarding health literacy, English proficiency, language spoken at home, and use of complementary and alternative medical practices.

Providers can also complete a cultural competence self-assessment, such as the one developed by Tawara D. Goode of the National Center for Cultural Competence, to identify areas in which they may be able to improve the quality of care provided to diverse populations. This assessment asks providers to evaluate their physical environment, communication style, and values and attitudes.

Looking for additional ways to make your practice more welcoming and culturally inclusive? Refer to these resources on the Think Cultural Health Web site. You can also download this terrific guide on improving patient engagement!

About the Author

LisaEramofreelanceLisa A. Eramo is a freelance writer/editor specializing in health information management, medical coding, and healthcare regulatory topics. She began her healthcare career as a referral specialist for a well-known cancer center. Lisa went on to work for several years at a healthcare publishing company. She regularly contributes to healthcare publications, websites, and blogs, including the AHIMA Journal and AHIMA Advantage. Her focus areas are medical coding, and ICD-10 in particular, clinical documentation improvement, and healthcare quality/efficiency.

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Free Webinar: Learn How to Define Your Online Reputation with Kevin MD

Lea Chatham October 13th, 2014

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Register Now for Kevin MD WebinarDefine Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Approach
Thursday, October 16, 2014
10:00 AM PT, 1:00 PM ET

Learn best practices from social media’s leading physician voice! Tweet this Kareo story

Kevin MD will provide practical guidance from his decade-long social media journey, enhanced by case studies of other practicing physicians who are active on social media.

This webinar is framed by three key questions:

  1. Why is an online reputation important?
  2. How can I establish my online reputation?
  3. How can I protect my online reputation?

To address these questions, Dr. Pho will discuss topics including  monitoring your online presence, the benefits and risks of physician  rating sites, tips for online professionalism, and pearls of wisdom on  top social media platforms.

Register Now!

About the Speaker
Register Now for Kevin MD WebinarDr. Pho is a practicing board-certified internal medicine physician and a healthcare social media leader since 2004. He is co-author of the book, “Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices.”
Dr. Pho received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and practices primary care in Nashua, NH. He is a member of the New Hampshire Union Leader’s 2010 class of New Hampshire’s 40 Under Forty, and a 2013 inductee to the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame.

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October Kareo Newsletter Takes a Look at Social Media for Physicians

Lea Chatham October 9th, 2014

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The October edition of the Kareo Getting Paid Newsletter takes a look at using LinkedIn, some best practices for work life balance and some handy tools to improve your medical billing. The newsletter also provides a chance to discover upcoming events, news, and resources from Kareo. Plus, you’ll learn about how to register for our upcoming free educational webinar, Define Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Approach, presented by physician social media expert Kevin Pho, MD. Read all this and more now!Tweet this Kareo story

October Kareo Getting Paid Newsletter

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Why I Recommend LinkedIn to Physicians by Kevin Pho, MD

Lea Chatham October 8th, 2014

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LinkedInBy Kevin Pho, MD

When I talk to physicians about dipping their toes into the social media waters, I advise starting with LinkedIn. Spend about 45 minutes or so and create a LinkedIn profile, which is essentially a digital translation of your CV. LinkedIn profiles get ranked highest among the social media platforms, and can push down the influence of negative news stories or physician rating sites.

Howard Luks is a social media thought leader, and whose opinion I respect tremendously. He wrote an insightful piece explaining why LinkedIn may not be right for doctors:

“As a physician on LinkedIn, not only do you have a virtual “please sell to me” sign on your forehead, most will perceive their presence on LinkedIn as a huge waste of time. Unless you are an aspiring entrepreneur, etc. you will find that the connections you make on LinkedIn are weak at best. In addition, while your patients are looking you up online, for the most part they are not looking at your LinkedIn profile.”

He goes on to suggest doctors spend their time on physician rating sites like Vitals or Healthgrades, Google+, or Yelp.

When it comes to establishing an online reputation, there are essentially two ways of doing it.Tweet this Kareo story

  1. “claiming” a profile on an existing physician rating site
  2. creating your own online presence, either with a website or through a social media platform

While I generally recommend the second approach of proactively defining yourself with social media, the first option of utilizing existing sites is viable.

First, much of the information in Vitals or Healthgrades is inaccurate, and can lead to the so-called Google Maps problem, where Google may use the information on these sites.

Second, physicians can leverage the high search engine visibility that these sites generally garner.

The downside of this approach is that these sites are for-profit and generally don’t have physicians’ best interests at heart.  Their physician profile pages are littered with ads, which can subtly imply a physician’s endorsement.

Also, consider the terms of service of one of these sites, which are heavily skewed against the doctor:

“You acknowledge that your Physician-Provided Material may be used without restriction for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, without any compensation or obligation to you.”

Because of those reasons, I prefer doctors create social media profiles instead, where they have more control over how their online identity is controlled and presented.

Howard also recommends Google+ and Google Places for Business. However, there is more friction in taking this approach, namely the cumbersome way Google verifies your business address. If this can be overcome, this does indeed have the highest search engine impact, as seen below:

kevin-pho LinkedIn

But any friction whatsoever prevents the majority of physicians from defining themselves online. From talking to doctors across the country, many are petrified of taking even minimal steps to be visible online.

Which brings us back to LinkedIn.

While it isn’t perfect for the reasons Howard mentioned, LinkedIn is a low-threat, low-resource, high-yield action.

I acknowledge that there are tradeoffs involved, and after considering those, continue to recommend it as a reasonable first step to establish a physician’s online reputation.

This piece originally appeared on KevinMD.com. For more tips an strategies from Kevin Pho, register now for his upcoming free webinar, Defining Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Approach.

About the Author

Kevin Pho for Health LeadersKevin Pho is an internal medicine physician and co-author of Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices. He is on the editorial board of contributors, USA Today, and is founder and editor, KevinMD.com, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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6 Tips for Creating Work Life Balance

Lea Chatham October 8th, 2014

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Tweet This Kareo StoryBy Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW

Balancing work and family can seem like an impossible task. According to the Physicians Practice Great American Physician Survey, sponsored by Kareo, many physicians struggle with creating work life balance and they want to improve this area. As a mother of two young children, figuring out how to juggle everything has become a personal quest of mine. A recent article in The Atlantic looks at some of the numbers in recent studies on work-life balance in the U.S., and it makes an interesting read. Why do so many struggle with this balancing act? Is there ever a happy medium?

The reality is that the process of balancing is dynamic, and it changes as the situations change. Here are some tips to help put this seemingly impossible task into perspective:

  1. Recognize that family life has seasons. The demands on your time and energy will change as new members are added to the family and as kids get older. Homework becomes more independent for kids as they get older, meaning less homework for mom and dad to help with.
  2. Schedule family times, just as you schedule your appointments. It might sound cold, or not spontaneous, but it works–especially if you are like me and live by your calendar. Plan some vacation time now and block it on your calendar. It doesn’t have to be two weeks at the shore, but you do need to have fun together as a family. A weekend at a cabin, a walk through town or your neighborhood, or an evening at an ice cream store works, too.
  3. If the traditional family dinner hour doesnt work for you, set a 8:30 meetup in your family room with a snack. The idea is to connect at least once a day for a short time because it is cumulative: all those short times build on one another to maintain relationships.
  4. Turn off the electronics during that connection time! Think face-time instead of screen-time. You can’t give your full attention to anyone if you’re getting texts.
  5. Say “no” to a few things. Choose not to “do it all” and just do one extra-curricular activity per family member.
  6. Delegate and get help when you are overwhelmed. You can’t do everything. Sometimes you need to break down and ask for help. I finally did just that. After years of taking care of children, keeping a clean house, and managing a growing business, I finally had to break down and admit I needed some help–in one area in particular–my landscaping. Now, I must add that my husband is a huge help in keeping the house organized and picked up, and is a great with the kids and their schedules, but does he know the difference between a weed from a Spring bud? NO. To him they all get pulled out. So, I hired Joanna, Master Gardener and Savior of Pitiful Landscaping. She came in, took one look at what I was attempting to do with the yard, talked with me for awhile about what I wanted to see, and went to work. Just a few hours from her took such a load off my mind. What a difference a professional makes! I never knew my landscaping could look so good. Finally, curb appeal! Delegating that task was the best thing I ever did.

There will be times when family has to be the priority over work: sudden illnesses, crisis situations, school activities, etc. There will also be times when work has to have priority over family because of call schedules or a patient crisis. Balance is that shifting of resources to adapt to changing needs and keeping your focus on the priorities you’ve set.Tweet this Kareo story

Most of us would say that we work to provide for our family and that our families are also a priority. Deliberately investing your energy into connecting with your loved ones on a daily basis with occasional longer times together helps you maintain that critical balance between work and family. Delegating, limiting commitments, and asking for help allows you to focus on what is important.

 About the Author
erin-photo-200X300Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin and her team of executive resume writers have achieved international recognition following nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award and advanced certifications. She also is a featured blogger on several popular career sites.



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Third-Party Rating Sites Important in Health IT Purchase Satisfaction

Lea Chatham October 7th, 2014

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According to the 2014 Black Book Survey, 89% of all physician practices agree their billing and collections systems/processes need upgrading. In addition, throughout 2014, industry experts have been saying that there is a strong trend towards EHR switching happening right now.

As a result, there are lots of physician practices out there looking to buy Health IT software to manage practice management, billing, and clinical process. But, choosing and implementing new software is no easy task, and many put it off as long as they can. And no wonder when there are hundreds of EHR solutions alone.

TechnologyAdvice“Finding the best technology solution for your specific needs is often stressful, time-consuming, and expensive,” says Rob Bellenfant, CEO and Founder of TechnologyAdvice, a technology ratings and review service. “With access to more information than ever before, it’s easy for a buyer to get overwhelmed in the research process and question what sources are reliable.”

Unbiased, reliable third-party rating sites can be a very useful tool to help practices narrow down the search for Health IT solutions.Tweet this Kareo story

These sites can provide three key benefits:

  1. They allow you to refine your search quickly by entering practice information such as size and specialty while also enabling you to select items like key features.
  2. You can easily see reviews and ratings from current users. This can make it easier to push a few solutions to the top of your list.
  3. There are often other resources available like unbiased surveys, articles, and in-person expert assistance to further help narrow the scope of your search.

Recently, Melissa McCormack, medical researcher at EHRSoftware Advice buyer resource Software Advice, conducted some research in collaboration with Research Now on the use of online ratings and reviews when making software purchases.

According to McCormack, “buyers are increasingly making use of crowdsourced research, such as online reviews, before making software purchasing decisions. Nearly three quarters of buyers today consult reviews before making a decision, and more than half say they would select one product over another based on reviews.”

It turns out that using reviews to help refine your purchasing process actually impacts the satisfaction with the purchase. In another study conducted by Software Advice, researcher Ashley Verrill found that buyers who did not check vendor references were 5.2 times more likely to be extremely dissatisfied with their software purchase than buyers who checked references, and consulting references had a positive impact on both the outcome of a software selection project and buyer satisfaction.

“With the advent of sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and the like, buyers have become accustomed to using customer opinions to help make important purchasing decisions,” explains Verrill. “In fact, these crowdsourced opinions have become an essential part of the online consumer research process. It allows them to confirm that customers had a positive experience before they buy.”

For healthcare providers there is a lot at stake when choosing new technology. It impacts your bottom line, the care you provides, and your ability to stay independent. Being able to narrow down the search to a small handful of solutions the you be assured meet your criteria is invaluable.

It is so much easier to do further research and schedule demonstrations of five systems than 50. And what healthcare provider or practice manager has the time to look at that many solutions. Using solutions like TechnologyAdvice, Software Advice, or American EHR, can save time and according the McCormack’s research increase your overall satisfaction with the final purchase.

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Welcome to Getting Paid, a weblog by Kareo offering ideas, news and opinions about medical billing and practice management with the goal of making medical billing easier and yes, getting you paid. Visit the Product Blog for more information on our products.

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