“Facebook”

Why Your Medical Practice Should Be Social - A Patient's Perspective

I need to be completely honest. Before I started working for a healthcare IT company, I didn’t think social media – in regards to the healthcare industry overall – went far past Obamacare memes and horror stories about people misdiagnosing themselves after plunging into the dark depths of WebMD. It turns out that it’s a little more complex than that!

Social platforms are the perfect place for patients and healthcare professionals to communicate about health issues and possibly improve health outcomes. Which makes sense, because patients are turning to the internet now more than ever to research health information. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t walk into a doctor’s office and say to the nurse, “These are the symptoms I’m experiencing and this is what I think I have based on my own research.” Now, think about the potential there. There’s a giant gap that providers can fill if more of them are socially active online. The key here is to provide me with information where I’m already looking for it. We can’t be ignored! Patients are using the internet to research health information.

If used correctly, social media serves as a truly unique extension of the patient to provider relationship. Not only that, it’s really the only free (at least monetarily) way to share practice visibility, engage with other medical professionals, and provide education through things like online communities, blogs, and videos. But before you begin any type of social media campaign, there are a few things you need to remember:

  • Remain HIPAA compliant – The most obvious being patient privacy protection. You can’t actually address your patients directly through social media as it violates confidentiality regulations outlined by HIPAA. ALWAYS keep this in mind, especially if other employees are posting for you. Distribute clear social networking policies to employees and avoid all discussion of patients, even in the most general of terms. Have no fear, there are plenty of unique and compliant ways to utilize social platforms to the benefit of your organization. We’ll get to those in a minute. 
  • Remain professional at all times – When you’re putting yourself out there on social media, especially as a business, there WILL be patients, colleagues and other professionals that challenge and disagree with you. I can say from experience as a social media strategist – and I think this is pretty universal for all types of businesses – honesty is the best policy. If someone disagrees with you online, you’ll provide yourself with a lot more credibility by recognizing their alternative opinion and providing a respectful counterargument, as opposed to ignoring them. However, if someone is blatantly disrespectful or inappropriate, that’s a different story. Again, you should train employees on how to handle these type of situations so everyone is on the same page. Remember, your reputation is on the line here, so proceed with extreme caution.

Now for the fun part!

Give your organization a voice. This is your opportunity to reach potential patients and other healthcare organizations, while impacting the daily decisions they make. When you offer your audience creative and informational content, you raise awareness of your organization in your community – on a local, regional, or even national level. Take Dr. Zubin Damania for example, better known as ZDoggMD. He’s basically an internet celebrity in the healthcare world whose notorious Youtube music video parodies cover all kinds of contemporary medical issues – from ulcers, to vaccine controversy, to EHRs. Yes, they’re satirical and meant to make you laugh, but Zubin has found a truly creative way to change the healthcare system, virally! (He's attending RBMA next week, in case you'll be there!)

Don’t let this shy you away, Dr. Z has been in the game for a long time! If you’re brand new to social media from your organization’s perspective, you don’t need choreographed music videos to provide quality content online. Regular Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and blog posts are a great starting point. At the end of the day, sharing trustworthy and valuable content is what’s most important here. With all the false health information floating around the web, sharing reliable and reader-friendly material can help serve and protect your community and beyond.

Highlight your staff and services. Value-based care is more prominent than ever, and with the rising importance of patient engagement, quality healthcare is crucial. Use social media channels to highlight your expertise! Promote blog posts written by specialists, post videos about your particular services and how they can benefit potential patients, host Q&A sessions about important health issues... the options are endless.

Expand your professional network. Social media is an excellent way to connect with other experts in your field. Linkedin and Facebook private groups are easy means of connection, but let’s expand a little. There are tons of awesome apps out there that connect professionals in a community environment. The app Figure 1 – Medical Images lets physicians looking for feedback on rare conditions or seeking insight about specific cases share medical images with one another. The app also guarantees patient privacy with automatic face-blocking and removal of identifying information. How cool is that? Connectivity on the go that’s HIPAA compliant!

Discover strengths and weaknesses. Truthfully, people are probably talking about your organization online and you don’t even realize it. This is great for two reasons. On one hand, patients may be raving about the quality care they or a loved one received. On the other, they could be grumbling. If the latter, this is a great way to respond to those complaints in real time, letting those individuals know that you care.

Now, I know that you may be thinking, “I don’t have time for this,” but consider the many benefits mentioned that are involved in your organization having an online presence. If you’re concerned that such engagement will really take up too much of your time, schedule posts in advance using platforms like Hootsuite. In the end, regularly posting quality content won’t be a waste of your time. If possible, putting the specialist – like a radiologist – in charge of social media efforts is ideal. When the specialist directly controls content, you’re ensuring that posts are relevant to your organization’s industry, culture and goals. You’re also significantly improving potential patient engagement. Again, this is where scheduling becomes incredibly important.

When patients are actively engaged in their own healthcare, outcomes improve. Create a special relationship with other industry leaders and potential patients. Get social!

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What We Can Learn From Recent High Profile Cyber Attacks

Cyber-attacks prove to us that protecting patients’ sensitive health information is extremely important. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society believes the average healthcare organization applies 3% of their IT budget on security, which is not enough. For the health care industry, recovering after an attack results in more than password changes, warnings, and a list of tips and investigations from the FBI. Just last year, the FBI warned health care providers of their inadequate cybersecurity systems. According to Reuters, fraudsters value health data over credit card numbers, since obtaining PHI provides the ability to illegally gain access to prescription medications and valuable financial information. When practices and companies experience a cyber-attack, patients can be exposed to medical identity theft resulting in losses upward of $12 billion annually (Ponemon Institute).

Despite the devastating impact cyber-attacks have on patients and providers, the people making spending decisions frequently do not see the value in paying for security until after a loss has occurred. Anthem’s breach affected roughly 80 million Americans, which questions the security of data as the health care industry moves away from paper to electronic health records. Owning private health information means that patients not only trust healthcare professionals to provide effective treatment, but they also trust them to store and manage their information securely.

Patients aren’t the only vulnerable victims after an attack, but practices/companies with and without cybersecurity insurance can face class action suits and penalties for violating HIPAA regulations. Given Anthem’s breach, Dr. James Madara, CEO of the American Medical Association, had this to say about securing PHI “if cybersecurity isn’t something that’s at the top of your list as an insurer or an integrated system, it has to get there very quickly” (Modern Healthcare). Experts in the health care and security industry agree with the SysAdmin, Audit, Networking, and Security (SANS) Health Care Cyberthreat Report’s statement “compliance does not equal security”.

The Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA) has provided a framework for evaluating your organizations practices and becoming proactive about cybersecurity. Click the link for more in depth information about HBMA’s cybersecurity best practices. In brief, their five core elements of data security include:

1. Identifying the risks.
2. Protecting the data.
3. Detecting any breaches.
4. Responding to any breaches.
5. Recovery.

Every healthcare professional is probably more than thankful that their organization was not a victim of the latest cyber-attack involving Anthem. Unfortunately, being thankful that it was “them and not us” this time doesn’t protect the PHI (Protective Health Information), which providers and other healthcare organizations are entrusted with. SANS is an organization designed to help companies understand the required action they need to take to defend their systems and networks against security threats. Barbara Filkins’ SANS survey highlights our “risks are exponentially increased because of organizations’ reliance on electronic systems for mission-critical functions”. While examining a data sample of over 100 terabytes, Filkins’ data focused on the healthcare industry, and discovered that health care providers received 72% of the malicious internet traffic from the sample.

Cybersecurity is a monstrous threat that can take down our basic resources, if they are connected to a network, with a single click. Unpredictability makes cyber-attacks even scarier! With medical equipment becoming increasingly network-dependent, and the rise of medical based software and wearable technologies, the security of our data is becoming more vulnerable.

“Connected medical devices, applications and software used by health care organizations providing everything from online health monitoring to radiology devices to video-oriented services are fast becoming targets of choice for nefarious hackers taking advantage of the IoT to carry out all manner of illicit transactions, data theft and attacks. This is especially true because securing common devices, such as network-attached printers, faxes and surveillance cameras, is often overlooked. The devices themselves are not thought of as being available attack surfaces by health care organizations that are focused on their more prominent information systems.” (SANS-Norse Health Care Cyber Threat Report)

At ImagineSoftware our CEO Sam Khashman is fully aware about current and potential cybersecurity threats, as a member of Infragard, an organization partnered with the FBI and the private sector. Our CEO, goes out of his way to inform the ImagineTeam about cybersecurity and how it impacts our clients, our organization and personal lives. In November of 2014 we welcomed Zal Azmi as our Chief Strategy Officer to help prepare Imagine and revitalize our cybersecurity policies. Azmi is the former Chief Information Officer for the FBI, and a variety of leadership positions within the Department of Defense Federal and Intelligence agencies. Part of Azmi’s cybersecurity policy revitalization includes hiring a team of cybersecurity experts, which positions Imagine as an invested industry leader in medical billing. Khashman had this to say about our new team member “His experience and knowledge will benefit the longevity of our clients and our organization, and assist with high level information technology and security measures.” We, the ImagineTeam, value the security of our clients and their patients’ PHI, and seek to be intentionally excellent in all avenues of our business, Imagine On!

Sources:
Conn, Joseph. "Experts Say Anthem Data Breach May Not Be Enough to Convince Healthcare Firms to Improve IT Security." Modern Healthcare. Modern Healthcare, 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2015
 http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150207/MAGAZINE/302079963/experts-doubt-anthem-breach-will-boost-security-spending

Filkins, Barbara. "Health Care Cyberthreat Report Widespread Compromises Detected, Compliance Nightmare on Horizon." (n.d.): n. pag. Feb. 2014. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.  
http://pages.norse-corp.com/rs/norse/images/Norse-SANS-Healthcare-Cyberthreat-Report2014.pdf

Filkins, Barbara. "New Threats Drive Improved Practices: State of Cybersecurity in Health Care Organizations." SANS Institute Reading Room. Cigital, CloudPassage, FireEye, Qualys, RiskIQ, Tenable Network Security and Trend, Dec. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
https://www.sans.org/reading-room/whitepapers/analyst/threats-drive-improved-practices-state-cybersecurity-health-care-organizations-35652

Finkle, Jim. "Exclusive: FBI Warns Healthcare Sector Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks." Reuters. Reuters, 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/23/us-cybersecurity-healthcare-fbi-exclusiv-idUSBREA3M1Q920140423

Munro, Dan. "Health Data Breach At Anthem Is A Blockbuster That Could Affect 80 Million." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 5 Feb. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Munro, Dan. "New Cyberthreat Report By SANS Institute Delivers Chilling Warning To Healthcare Industry." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/02/20/new-cyberthreat-report-by-sans-institute-delivers-chilling-warning-to-healthcare-industry/

Munro, Dan. "The Top U.S. Healthcare Story For 2014: Cybersecurity." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Dec. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/12/21/the-top-u-s-healthcare-story-for-2014-cybersecurity/

http://www.hbma.org/news/public-news/n_cybersecurity-for-sensitive-data
http://www.sans.org/about/




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The Key to Long-Term B2B Relationships

"User Experience" - Yeah, it's one of those buzz terms all marketers have heard at some point or another, but do you realize how important it is to understand? In today's business world, many B2B companies are following in the footsteps of B2Cs that are essentially "getting in bed" (for lack of better terms) with their customers. Sounds a little weird, right? But it's absolutely necessary. When you get to know your customers on a deep and personal level, you gain valuable insight into their strengths, weaknesses, and objectives they'd like to reach as a company, especially while utilizing your products and services. What happens once you gain this insight? It's kind of like going on a first date. The ones that go well, at least. You create a conversation, you get a feel for each other's needs, and (hopefully) develop a relationship built on loyalty. For businesses, it results in higher likelihood of continued purchases and most importantly, happy clients that generate referrals. Buzz term or not, user experience is a VERY valuable tool that many businesses have yet to grasp. 

 Coming from both a B2B and B2C background myself, I'll admit that there's a lot B2Bs can learn from their business counterparts. Thankfully, ImagineSoftware knows a thing or two about strategic insight. When I began working for the company, one of the first things I learned was that Imagine has a near 100% client retention rate. How is that even possible?! At least, that's what I asked myself before I sat down with Gerald Hedrick, one of our Client Success Managers, to understand how the company has perfected the art of creating dialogue with decision makers and cultivating long-lasting relationships.

  "As Client Success Managers, our primary function is communication. You can think of us as the client-facing concierges of the business. We excel in aspects of software functionality and on the "how-to's" of the system. Our goal is to gather insight into our customers' business, operational, and transitional situations. We get to know them really well - their strengths and weaknesses, company goals, and what they expect from us in order to make their business more successful and efficient. That's a necessity for us, how else would we be able to ensure our clients and partners that we can solve their issues?" 

  • We understand the benefit and necessity for regular, carefully structured client calls as a standard practice of CSM. 
  • It's vital for us to match the correct resource with the needs of every client, in every situation. 
  • Meeting commitments and delivering on expectations. 
  • We immediately establish partnerships and focus on forming relationships. 
  • We understand the different between fixing something and intentional excellence. We've formed a relationship and created conversation with the client. We already know how they use the software, so when they come to us for help, we know how to get it done the first time.

These are tips that we utilize daily. When they're executed, honestly it makes our clients feel awesome so it's something we strive to exude each day."

 So go ahead - communicate, assimilate, and skip off into the sunset hand in hand with your clients... essentially. You'll thank us later. 

 

ImagineSoftware is a leading software developer and provider in the healthcare IT sector, focused on designing and commercializing innovative billing and revenue cycle management system software applications. 

Join the discussion at ImagineNation for training videos, updates, and monthly webinars. 

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Social Engagement for the Medical Industry

In this ever changing landscape of social media, the medical world is seeing the benefits of using social media as a marketing tool. Many physician groups are using Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to grow their practice and earn patient referrals. From the small country doctor, to large hospital groups, the use of social media is becoming a powerful way to engage patients.

So what is social media and how can it help my practice? Social Media is, in its purest form, interaction among people and is used to share opinions, ideas, hopes, dreams, and fears. It is an open door into their lives inasmuch as they allow it, creating a unique opportunity for a medical provider to be able to engage their patients. Engaged patients are more likely to follow the advice of their medical professional, keep appointments, seek out new information on their health, and therefore, have better medical outcomes. Using social media allows your practice to be active in the care of your patients outside of the typical visit.

Through the use of Twitter, Facebook, and the multitude of physician rating sites you can provide valuable information directly to a multitude of people without being intrusive. Examples could be as simple as a tweet reminding your followers to use sunscreen on a holiday weekend, or placing a post about a new medication or treatment on your Facebook site. You could write a blog on some of the cutting edge treatments available for your specialty or can be as simple as wishing your patients a happy birthday. Subliminally your patients will then have you top of mind and will most likely have a higher degree of regard for you. As a medical provider you have a front row seat into some of the most personal aspects of your patients’ lives and is a vehicle for you to be on the forefront with them and no longer out of sight or out of mind.

While it was slow to adopt, the healthcare industry is quickly moving towards social media as an avenue to not only market, but to have a meaningful impact on the lives of their number one asset- their patients.

Social media is most likely already a part of your patients’ lives. While they are “Tweeting” and “Liking”, you have an awesome opportunity to engage and empower them to become involved in their health. The returns for both you and your patients are immeasurable. Here at IMAGINE, we are committed to helping you navigate this ever changing world of social engagement. Feel free to contact me directly for more information on how IMAGINE can develop a strategy for you to become a more social part of your patients’ lives.




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Revenue Cycle Management

The ImagineAppliance™ takes medical billing to the next level with hands-free automation of many billing activities, eliminating routine and time-consuming manual work on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on your business needs.

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Physician Rating Websites Influence Patient Acquisitions

Patients are increasingly researching doctors, the question is: are they finding your practice, or your competition’s? “It’s important that when patients go to search for a service or procedure online, that your practice comes up,” explains Katie Robbins, Director of Marketing for Charlotte Radiology at the May 2014 Radiology Summit. If and when these patients see your practice online, are they viewing positive or negative information? With sites like RateMDs.com, healthgrades.com, and vitals.com, patients who have visited your practice are given a strong voice that can loudly influence how online potential patients are viewing your practice. Having positive online reviews and testimonials is vital for your practice reputation.

Due to consumer demand, health insurance companies are expanding their healthcare networks and patients (now more than ever) are being given the go-ahead by their insurance companies to choose which in-network doctor they visit with no referrals needed. Blue cross Blue Shield of NC’s top three health insurance plans offer patients the ability to visit specialty doctors with no referrals.

Not requiring referrals gives patients the right to choose, and many online savvy patients are whipping out their smart phones, tablets, and laptops to start picking their best option. “When I found out I needed surgery, I immediately went online to search for the most qualified and well rated doctor,” stated Patti Galloway, a mortgage loan originator in Charlotte, NC. Patti chose the doctor with the highest patient satisfaction scores and this trend is continuing to increase.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA) ( Zylke, 2014;311:734-735,) word-of-mouth referrals and referrals from partnering physicians currently surpass doctor rating website referrals, but the numbers of patients who are using them is continuing to rise as many of these sites are still gaining traction.

While patients will continue to turn to resources online to uncover their best option for services, practices need to be aware of how their doctors are rated and develop strategies to increase positive patient reviews.




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Online Self-Pay Portal

The ImaginePay is designed to simplify the patient payment cycle – allowing you to process time-of-service payments and statement payments in one centralized location for all of your patients. Patients have ease of mind that they’re making their payments easily and securely. The process is simple, and can be done anywhere the internet is available.

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Electronic Health Records

Move from paper patient charting to a more user-friendly electronic format with Imagine's unique EHR component, ImagineEHR.  A comprehensive, ONC – ATCB Certified EHR by CCHIT with an open architecture that is completely customizable in both content and workflow, it is also easy to learn and use both from a provider level and a user level, providing demographics, medical history, lab results, and personal statistics across multiple facitlites. 

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  • MedFM
    MedFM

    MedFM is a comprehensive medical management software solution for medical billing and practice management services. MedFM delivers unsurpassed flexibility and user productivity in a dependable, user-friendly system.

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