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What patients are searching for and how you can be the answer

January 15th, 2015

by Andrea J. Simon

These are very challenging times for healthcare leaders and particularly for healthcare marketers. Everything seems to be in flux. Sometimes this change is welcome, but more often it is not. What's the problem? Doctors are not sure how to care for their patients. A typical conundrum came from a physician we know. Visibly annoyed, he recently grumbled to me: "I don't know what to do with my patient. Because of his large deductible, he won't go for the x-rays or tests I've recommended. Instead, he's going online to research what I'm telling him." Clearly, this did not sit well with this doctor.

That patient now had choice. And he felt empowered--if not a bit scared.

Similarly, we were chatting with another woman who needed knee surgery. She had knee surgery once before, but the surgeon had not done a very good job. Rather than ask her primary care doctor what to do, she went online to find a specialist, researched his background (very fine institution), found his scores on Healthgrades, saw how many cases he had done and his infection rates ... then made an appointment. When he asked her how she had come to him without a referring doctor on her chart, she told him. He was both shocked and delighted--he actually could not believe it.

Whether it is the patient who is challenging long-standing and well-established cultural norms or physicians struggling with how to continue to provide medically appropriate and evidenced-based care, the times are really changing. What does that mean for those of us who are healthcare marketers or folks like us who support healthcare marketers?

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Using social media for community engagement: A success story

January 15th, 2015

by Scott Kashman and Nancy Travis

Scott: Over the past several years, I have been more actively involved in social media. Through my own blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Hospital Impact, I have tried to see what forums were most effective. Each plays to a slightly different audience or provides a different way for me to engage others in communication.

When I started out, Paul Levy and Marty Bonick were two executives who guided my first blog efforts. It allowed me a chance to share some organizational perspectives and get more people in dialogue.

Recently, we started a hospital Facebook page to better engage community members and staff, in accordance with our social media policies. It serves as a way to share upcoming events, solicit feedback and gain real-time perspectives when people "check in" to our facility. In fact, I spoke to one family member who shared some concerns with wait times given our busy seasonal fluctuations. She and I connected and I shared some of our plan to alleviate this. She then turned to me and shared how amazing and caring our emergency department team was during her stay. It's allowed me to learn how we could use social media in a positive, proactive way to shape experiences and understand where we could enhance our processes.

While Paul and Marty helped pave my initial start, it is Nancy Travis, our director of women's services, who shines in the area of engaging people in our community and around the world. She is our social media go-to person, using social media in a way that impacts our decisions and shapes the services we provide. That's why I have asked Nancy to co-write this with me. Nancy, take it away...

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The importance of ritual in transforming healthcare

January 14th, 2015

by Thomas Dahlborg

"Dad, why is it that we so love going to Starbucks together?"

It was after our workout. We had just pushed one another beyond what we are typically capable of. And now, together, we journeyed to Starbucks. We left the warmth of our car. We discussed what delicacy we would be ordering (Grande Flat White Breves). We placed our order with the smiling barista. We awaited the creations while smelling the amazing aromas. We discussed our workout and life. And then with great anticipation we received our Breves with another smile.

"T (short for Tommy Jr.), I believe beyond the ... (and I described what I noted above) ... it is the ritual of the visit," I told my son. "It is us bonding together in something we both enjoy, it is the opportunity for us to take a breath and focus on our relationship and the love we share as father and son and doing so as we 'break bread,' and it is us doing so while joining in community with others. It is this ritual I believe that enhances the experience and creates the specialness of going to Starbucks ... together."

And as I was sharing my thoughts I recalled--and understood that my response to my son was inspired by--the amazing TED Talk by Dr. Abraham Verghese, "A Doctor's Touch," in which he brilliantly discusses the importance of ritual in the healing encounter.

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CEOs weigh in on emerging healthcare trends for 2015

January 14th, 2015

By Ilene Macdonald

Hospitals and healthcare systems faced an Ebola crisis, a rise in competition from retail clinics and urgent care centers, and millions of newly insured patients as a result of the Affordable Care Act in 2014. Organizations will continue to deal with those challenges in 2015, but other trends are emerging as well. FierceHealthcare asked hospital chief executive officers their predictions for challenges and focus areas they'll experience this year.

Here's a snapshot of what they say their colleagues should watch out for in 2015:

Greater hospital-physician integration: Raymond Hino, CEO of the California-based Palm Drive Health Care Foundation and a member of Fierce's editoral advisory board, expects to see a re-emergence of physician provider involvement, with a new generation of physician leaders in hospitals and health systems helping to drive healthcare in the United States
Hospitals and providers will continue to develop models of integrated organizational design, in which both will participate in shared savings, shared risk and shared gain, says Hino, pictured left.

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How to make the most out of employee mistakes

January 14th, 2015

by Deb Beaulieu-Volk

People make mistakes. In life, in business, it happens. The ways in which managers and organizations respond to employee errors, however, are as varied as the types of mistakes there are to make.

A staffer responsible for a reportable HIPAA violation, for example, may find him or herself reprimanded, suspended, fired or simply warned and corrected. I've attended HIPAA seminars, in fact, in which attendees were widely split when asked their opinion of the appropriate fate of an employee behind such a breach.

There are countless other examples of scenarios in which an employee may inadvertently cause a practice revenue loss, embarrassment, angry customers or worse. And for two weeks running, experts cited in FiercePracticeManagement top stories have advised taking a teachable or blame-free approach.

On the surface, that sounds to me a lot like giving out medals to kids just for showing up--the hallmark trend that gives employees of more recent generations a reputation of entitlement and weak work ethic.

But the more I muse on the issue, the more it seems generational conditioning is not nearly as significant, in the long run, as life experience. To an extent, practices can and should hire for work ethic, critical thinking skills and the ability to take initiative. Those are the three professional traits I'm personally most proud of, by the way. But I should add that all three were honed (sometimes painstakingly), not born.

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