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November 20, 2017

Cybercriminals, Ransomware, PHI Exposure, Hack Attacks and Other Things That Keep Healthcare IT Security Executives up at Night

By: Mark Beckmeyer

Today we hear from Mark Beckmeyer, Binary Fountain’s Director of IT Security. Mark has accumulated more than 30 years of healthcare IT security experience, with the vast majority of those spent interacting with the C-Level of healthcare providers and payers around the nation. Mark’s expertise in conducting healthcare security risk and gap assessments and related…

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Today we hear from Mark Beckmeyer, Binary Fountain’s Director of IT Security. Mark has accumulated more than 30 years of healthcare IT security experience, with the vast majority of those spent interacting with the C-Level of healthcare providers and payers around the nation. Mark’s expertise in conducting healthcare security risk and gap assessments and related services affords him an incisive and practical perspective on the ways that healthcare entities can evaluate, implement, and maintain their security compliance programs. Mark holds a D.Sc. (Doctor of Science) is in Cybersecurity from Capitol Technology University and an M.A. in Security Management from George Washington University. He offers this overview of security concerns.

Healthcare is a Primary Target of Malicious Activity

Many of healthcare’s evolutions have been progressing at breakneck speed, but until recently its embrace of security lagged behind. Pre-HIPAA, you could stand at a nursing station in just about any hospital or clinic and see patient forms and files everywhere – in paper folders, not digital ones. Walk into a patient’s room and there would nearly always be a clipboard filled with medical notes and observations, and not much security to stop an inquisitive visitor from peeking. Information that’s protected by law today was supposed to be private, but there was not a requirement to protect and secure Protected Health Information (PHI).
Healthcare data has also been a primary target of malicious activity, putting PHI more at risk. There are several reasons for this. One is the centralization and the sheer quantity of patient and provider data. Another is history: for example, the banking industry was light years ahead of healthcare IT in strengthening security, so the value of stolen credit card numbers became less attractive in comparison. Financial and credit accounts can be closed and new accounts created. A person’s health information can’t simply be cancelled and reopened.

Medical Records Are More Valuable than Financial Records

The illicit market pays more for stolen health information, because it can be used for deeper identity theft, and for filing lucrative fraudulent medical insurance claims. By some estimates, stolen medical records are more valuable on the dark market than financial records – around 20 times more valuable!

Healthcare Data Breaches Continue to Increase

Although word is that stolen data currently fetches lower prices, because there’s so much of it on the market, there seems to be no letup in the onslaught of hacking attempts or theft of data-storing devices. Anthem, Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer, reported a massive breach involving some 80 million records at the beginning of 2015. The annual reports of health providers and insurers alike warn investors about the risks of cybercrime. Others report that containing or preventing threats is very costly, and remediation may not always be successful, which leads to loss of public trust and an exodus of customers.

Up to 90% of Breaches Result from Inside Threats

According to experts, it’s more than a little likely that a data security breach results from an inside weakness or attack. By some estimates, internal threats are a factor in up to 90% of all breaches. Indeed, it’s rare for an external threat to be successful without internal flaws or negligence. A prime example of an external threat exploiting an internal flaw is a hack or introduction of malicious software into an unpatched system. Other examples involve the unauthorized external access of PHI and other sensitive information due to one or more internal security vulnerabilities, like inadequate or non-existent risk management, security policies and procedures, and workforce security awareness training. This lack of security has also resulted in situations where employee mishaps can create a nightmare for healthcare organizations – for example, there have been cases where individuals have lost laptops containing large amounts of PHI.

HIPAA mandates significant criminal and civil penalties for violations. Still, healthcare organizations were slow to implement adequate security controls. This less-than-urgent attitude was due to vagueness in HIPAA’s security provisions, perceived weakness in the government’s enforcement capabilities, budget constraints, inability to calculate ROI on security expenditures, and a reluctance to grasp the risk posed by the breach of patient healthcare records.

As more of life moved online, public sensitivity to individual privacy rights evolved, and threats of legal action over privacy violations began to rise. The regulatory environment tightened gradually, with the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH Act) and the HIPAA Omnibus Rule of 2013 (Omnibus Rule) to supplement and strengthen HIPAA’s original security provisions.

Protect Your Enterprise

Where can you start when it comes to healthcare IT security? From a high level, C-level executives need to keep on top of innovations in security technology, adopt and implement practical IT safeguards, and train, remind and enforce privacy and data protection policies with employees. In upcoming posts we’ll explore these measures in more detail, and discuss ways that healthcare organizations can address the technology, cultural and program challenges of data security.

Do you have a healthcare information security concern or question? Let us know what’s on your mind, and look for answers to your concerns in future posts from Mark.

About the Author

Mark Beckmeyer
Director, IT Security

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November 08, 2017

Recapping Emerging Trends from HCIC

By: Zargham Ghani

Recently, Aaron Clifford, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Binary Fountain, shared some thoughts on the Healthcare Internet Conference (known to nearly all as the HCIC), which convened in Austin in late October. Aaron reports that judging by what he saw and heard at HCIC, the patient journey is rapidly becoming the digital patient experience….

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Recently, Aaron Clifford, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Binary Fountain, shared some thoughts on the Healthcare Internet Conference (known to nearly all as the HCIC), which convened in Austin in late October.

Aaron reports that judging by what he saw and heard at HCIC, the patient journey is rapidly becoming the digital patient experience. This journey doesn’t begin in the emergency department or in the physician’s waiting room, it begins on a digital device, either a computer or more likely, a mobile device. One presentation included the amazing statistic that people now average 3.6 hours per day getting information on a mobile device, versus 2.5 on a laptop or desktop computer.

In the near-term future of healthcare marketing, says Aaron, significant emphasis will be on what content should be presented to healthcare consumers, especially at the beginning of their digital journey. When they first land on a provider’s or physician’s site, will they be able to quickly find their way to what they need?

Artificial Intelligence will play a greater role in this patient journey, growing more important with time. A general session called Preparing for 2020: Owning the Patient Journey and Owning Your Data featured Brian Cusack, Health Systems Industry Director for Google. Brian discussed the fact most patient experiences and touch points – whether researching a physician, making appointments or pursuing post-care follow-up, occur outside the doctor’s office or the healthcare facility. Aaron reports that Brian discussed ways that marketers can connect digital with physical data at every stage of the patient journey, and how that data can be used in patient acquisition.

Search functions and taxonomy are vital to the patient journey, and a session on physician directory information featuring KYRUUS showed how to improve the provider database in a way that maps symptom to condition to physician specialty to treatment.

Assisting the site visitor is essential, and several sessions focused on how to do this, says Aaron. One on chatbots showed how interactive sessions can gather health data, provide the patient with relevant information and offer a smooth and accurate way to register a patient or set appointments. There was even a prediction that, a mere five years from now, chat sessions could replace many web sites as a utility for interacting with patients.

Transparency is a trend that will continue, Aaron observes. At present, both quality and pricing transparency lag behind the patients’ desire for information. Still, the majority of providers don’t display reviews.

It’s clear from information presented at HCIC that marketers must understand and adapt to the things that motivate patient choice.

A general session presentation by the author and multi-industry consultant Jay Baer offered powerful ideas from many industries outside healthcare on the ROI of content, and how to reap the most by marketing, reusing and promoting content.

Aaron also described the innovative approach offered by UbiCare to help keep patients on track to follow through on surgery appointments. Physicians and providers can provide tailored preparation instructions to help avoid costly same-day cancellations. Aaron reports the presentation offered useful ROI points on surgeries saved, operating room and staff scheduling, and patient experience.

One important insight Aaron drew from HCIC is this: healthcare must do more with less with reimbursements declining and the patient population and demand for care increasing.

PODCAST BONUS: At HCIC Aaron was a panelist, along Tony Huth, EVP and Co-Founder of Medicom Health, and Peter Alperin, VP at Doximity, on a Touchpoint podcast recorded before a live audience. With hosts Chris Boyer and Reed Smith, the panel explored the digital experience for both patients and physicians, discussed trends in online reputation management and ways that hospitals and physicians can leverage outside vendors for greater success. The show included a lively conversation on who drives the digital transformation in healthcare, with questions and insights from audience members. You can listen to the hour-long podcast here.

About the Author

Zargham Ghani
Engagement Manager

Zargham help healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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October 25, 2017

Listen to the HCIC17 Live Podcast Panel

By: John McFeely

Whether you attended or missed HCIC this week, Chris Boyer and Reed Smith, hosts of the Touchpoint podcast, held a live panel discussion with Tony Huth, EVP and Co-Founder of Medicom Health, Peter Alperin, VP at Doximity and Aaron Clifford, SVP of Marketing at Binary Fountain. The panel shared their insights into the digital experience…

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Whether you attended or missed HCIC this week, Chris Boyer and Reed Smith, hosts of the Touchpoint podcast, held a live panel discussion with Tony Huth, EVP and Co-Founder of Medicom Health, Peter Alperin, VP at Doximity and Aaron Clifford, SVP of Marketing at Binary Fountain.

The panel shared their insights into the digital experience for both patients and physicians, trends in online reputation management, how hospitals can best leverage their outside vendors for greater success, and debated who will drive transformation in digital healthcare.

Listen to it today.

HCIC17 Podcast TouchPoint

About the Author

John McFeely
Sales Director

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October 13, 2017

Using Data to Analyze and Improve Reputation

By: Sabrina Egan

Today, we have a conversation with a reputation management expert, Binary Fountain’s Aaron Clifford. Bringing more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Aaron is the company’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. Previously, Aaron served as the senior director of digital marketing solutions for HCA, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare…

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Today, we have a conversation with a reputation management expert, Binary Fountain’s Aaron Clifford.

Bringing more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Aaron is the company’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. Previously, Aaron served as the senior director of digital marketing solutions for HCA, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, where he created the vision for the organization’s enterprise-wide reputation management program.

Here, he offers some insight on how to use data to analyze and improve reputation.

To start with a fairly simple example, says Aaron, it’s helpful to appreciate data and what it means from the viewpoint of a physician in a solo practice. If a physician wanted to know why his or her practice seemed to be slowing a little, we’d want to understand the trends. Are new patient acquisitions rising or falling? Is there an increase in the rate of patients dropping off?

I would be asking, “Can you assemble data on your past three years of new patient volume? How have your reviews been growing and trending in satisfaction in that period?” Obtaining this data may be a challenge for a small practice, but the more modern practice management systems typically have this readily available.

We’d also want to look at ratings themselves on several channels, for example, Google My Business, Vitals and HealthGrades. I’d ask, “Are you acquiring new patients, or do you seem to be losing patients, due to reviews?”

To appreciate patterns and correlations, we’d want to overlay the review data onto the physician’s patient gain and loss numbers. This is where the data will likely point to the answer: online reviews can track with up- or downward trends in patient loyalty. This can influence practice growth, which of course has an impact on revenue.

Along the same lines, physicians or their practice managers should collect and analyze their referral data, to answer this question: Is there a correlation between referrals and new patient acquisition? If they don’t already, new patient forms should include questions such as “How did you hear about this physician?” and “What made you choose to book an appointment with this practice?” Tracking the answers will reveal opportunities to determine attribution.

Aaron observes that these small-practice principles are directly applicable to the perspective of the marketing staff in a larger practice or larger healthcare provider system. The hypothesis is similar: Online reviews impact revenue, positive reviews impact positively — negative reviews reduce new patient signups, and also depress patient loyalty, increasing attrition rates.

“For larger practice systems or hospital systems, cautions Aaron, “It’s advisable to ‘North Wind’ the practice manager, physicians, and operational management teams, to let them know you’re collecting data to build on the reputation of the practice. This way, they’re less likely to feel they’re under a magnifying glass.”

Aaron concludes, “It’s another proof of the hypothesis: by tracking and improving online reputation, the practice increases patient satisfaction, builds loyalty, and sees the positive effects on growth and revenue.”

About the Author

Sabrina Egan
Engagement Manager

Sabrina helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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October 05, 2017

Onboarding Physicians to Reputation Management

By: Zargham Ghani

Reputation management is becoming increasingly important for healthcare providers. People at every level of the organization, from the front desk to the medical staff to executives in the C-suite, are learning that a commitment to excellence in patient experience, as reflected in positive reviews, is the key. At Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, instruction in reputation…

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Reputation management is becoming increasingly important for healthcare providers. People at every level of the organization, from the front desk to the medical staff to executives in the C-suite, are learning that a commitment to excellence in patient experience, as reflected in positive reviews, is the key.

At Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, instruction in reputation management policies and practice is so important that it’s part of day one onboarding sessions for new physicians. Recently, we discussed this with Mary Reid, RN, senior physician development consultant with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

What are the basics of the Reputation Management training process for new physicians?

It starts on the physician’s first day working here, alongside other typical first day presentations:  welcome, payroll, email, operating policies and so on. Our marketing VP reviews the patient experience, and presents on the service recovery process. The physicians receive and review the hospital’s complaints and grievances policies and procedures. We introduce Binary Fountain and how it works for Spartanburg; for example, how we ask every patient to complete a post-appointment survey.

Does the presentation go into detail about how negative reviews are handled?

Yes, we describe how practice managers review surveys, and pass on negative reviews to the marketing department, and that the physician will have a chance to work with any complaining patient. We hammer home to the physicians how important it is that our patients have good experiences. This isn’t meant to scare them; we explain that survey information empowers the physician to turn negative experiences into more positive ones. Unresolved negative reviews are handled promptly as grievances. The physician would quickly learn about any related to them from management, and receive guidance on how to work with the patient to turn the experience around.

Do they learn what to do if they encounter a negative review on a third-party site like Yelp, Healthgrades, or ZocDoc, or in social media?

We instruct all physicians and other practice staffers to alert the marketing department if they see a negative review on social media, rather than have the doctor respond directly on social media.

What is the typical physician response to the reputation management training?

Most everyone responds positively – they arrive here understanding how important this is. Many of our physicians come directly from residency, and this is not their first time hearing about reputation management.

Does their age make them more comfortable with the technology and the online experience?

Yes, our younger physicians are definitely comfortable with it! They probably have written reviews of their own as customers.

Is there follow up with the physician?

Yes, we visit each of our practices monthly, and we take time to talk with physicians about reputation management. That’s a time to celebrate good reviews and improved results together.

About the Author

Zargham Ghani
Engagement Manager

Zargham help healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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September 19, 2017

How to persuade physicians and win over executives with data

By: Brian Williams

Unfavorable online reviews can potentially torpedo the reputation of a healthcare organization or a provider – and negatively impact revenue. As healthcare marketers implement reputation management programs, success depends on gaining buy-in from key stakeholders, particularly physicians and management. However, this can be easier said than done. Physicians can be wary of online reviews. Many…

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Unfavorable online reviews can potentially torpedo the reputation of a healthcare organization or a provider – and negatively impact revenue. As healthcare marketers implement reputation management programs, success depends on gaining buy-in from key stakeholders, particularly physicians and management.

However, this can be easier said than done. Physicians can be wary of online reviews. Many doubt their validity or disagree with them. Others want bad reviews to “go away.”  On the other hand, healthcare executives are making patient experience a

Research data show that misgivings are common. A recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine reports that 78% of providers say online physician reviews can cause them stress. This is despite the fact that about half of patients in the survey said they feel reviews are useful.

What’s the key to gaining buy-in? Let analytics do the talking. Using data to engage physicians and communicate progress to executives helps both groups of stakeholders embrace the value of online reviews and surveys, including how they can use the results to improve their online presence and gain insights into where they can improve the patient experience.

When presenting your case for a reputation management program, let revenue-related statistics speak for you:

  • 75% of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when selecting a physician (source: Binary Fountain)
  • 95 percent of respondents find online ratings and reviews “somewhat” to “very” reliable. (source: Binary Fountain)
  • Organizations providing “superior” patient experience achieve net margins 50 percent higher than those providing “average” patient experience. (source: Accenture)
  • Ratings from patient surveys like HCAHPS also impact revenue. Hospitals with higher patient ratings saw a net margin of 4.7 percent, while hospitals with poor ratings saw just 1.8 percent net margin. (source: Deloitte) How can a hospital reach HCAHPS or revenue goals without putting patient experience first?

Physicians are overachievers and often naturally competitive. They are also trained to rely on empirical evidence, to trust data and outcomes. Giving physicians a clear perspective on patient experience data – insight that clearly affects their practices – can grab their attention. Once they see reports that show good reviews far outnumber unfavorable ones, they’re much more inclined to buy in.

Once providers and managers gain insight into the collective score of both the physician and the facility, they can cultivate a plan for continuous improvement based on actual patient experience and outcomes.  Providing practice-wide physicians benchmarking reports on patient experience factors can incentivize them to improve in areas where they have low scores.

For more advice on best practices for choosing, adopting and implementing a reputation management program, visit our blog.

About the Author

Brian Williams
Engagement Manager

Brian helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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August 29, 2017

Webinar Highlights: Marketing Strategies for Patient Engagement and Acquisition

By: Sabrina Egan

Recently, we presented a webinar on the consumer revolution in healthcare, entitled “Marketing Strategies for Patient Engagement and Acquisition.” The presenters were Aaron Clifford, Senior VP of Marketing for Binary Fountain; Elizabeth Davis, Reputation Manager with HCA, and Carrie Liken, Head of Healthcare for Yext. Aaron started things off with a quotation from Brian Solis,…

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Recently, we presented a webinar on the consumer revolution in healthcare, entitled “Marketing Strategies for Patient Engagement and Acquisition.”

The presenters were Aaron Clifford, Senior VP of Marketing for Binary Fountain; Elizabeth Davis, Reputation Manager with HCA, and Carrie Liken, Head of Healthcare for Yext.

Aaron started things off with a quotation from Brian Solis, the well-known consultant, author and speaker, who welcomes us all to the new era of marketing and service, where “your brand is defined by those who experience it.”

Next, Carrie Liken of YEXT described the healthcare patient journey, an experience cycle that begins even before a patient is diagnosed. The first step is DISCOVERY, in which the patient researches their symptoms online and then decides what type of provider to see. Step Two is SELECTION, with the patient consulting search engines, provider directories and reviews to choose a physician. Third is POINT OF CARE, in which the patient notices aspects of the practice experience: office staff, wait time, billing problems and so on. Last is the FEEDBACK stage, with the patient visiting an online review site to leave feedback, positive or negative. Either way, the review they post will help other patients in their journey.

Carrie introduced some eye-opening statistics about the Patient Journey:

  • 77% of people search online before making an appointment.
  • 76% of people search for a provider (not a facility) when looking for health info

As Carrie described next, there are potential pain points if online access information is incorrect, or staff attitudes are perceived as unhelpful. And, when a patient leaves negative feedback, that influences the choices of potential patients who follow, which has an impact on revenue.

More statistics demonstrate Aaron’s comment that “The competition is only a click away:”

  • 47% of patients are willing to go out-of-network based on reviews
  • 50% of consumers searching for a provider will not choose a provider without reviews”

Next, Elizabeth Davis described how HCA arrived at its corporate reputation and listing information management strategy, how it functions from a corporate standpoint, and how the company works to optimize it as an acquisition and engagement strategy.

HCA operates 174 hospitals; 1,000+ practice locations; 90+ urgent care locations; 119 surgery centers, employs 37,000 active physicians, and records some 8.4 million Emergency Department visits a year (HCA sees 20 million patients per year altogether).

Elizabeth offered examples showing how easily online listings can spread misinformation, from a physician incorrectly listed as deceased, to another physician’s W-9 form with home address and social security number, posted by accident in a Google My Business account for a year, to an error with potential life-and-death consequence — a Google map destination for an emergency room that was really an empty lot. Beginning in 2011, HCA began working with practice managers at all its facilities to reclaim and correct listings at third party sites including Google, Yelp, Vitals, HealthGrades and others. That effort took close to two years, and 4 people to coordinate.

In building a case for a unified reputation management software solution, the HCA reputation management team demonstrated that online reviews represented a wealth of actionable data and unaddressed opportunities for improvement. The team took a hands-on approach to demonstrate the value of engaging with patients to optimize reviews. One Nashville clinic recorded 2,000+ views on Google business, 100 calls and 150 web site visits in one week.

The team added a crucial question to patient experience surveys – Did the patient book their appointment based on information they found online? Working with practices to improve patient experience, the team saw the number of patients responding “yes” to this question increase by 131 percent. The clear lesson is that new and returning patients alike look online for information on which practice to choose, how to make an appointment, how to get there and many more steps on their patient journey. Assembling their business case, the team could clearly see that enterprise-wide reputation management could not be maintained manually without adding a lot of employees.

The team chose Binary Fountain for its superior automation and template features, because of its highly developed, healthcare-specific Natural Language Processing capabilities, and especially because Binary Fountain embodies forward-thinking expertise and functionality. For Elizabeth’s HCA team Binary Fountain was, hands down, best in class.

Today, HCA oversees its company-wide reputation management program with a central office staff of three people, and input from staffers assigned to patient engagement in each practice. They also partner with YEXT to more easily maintain all the details of staff, hours, services, location and contact information across third-party platforms publishing physician and location data.

The result is a dramatic improvement in patient experience as measured by positive reviews. As Aaron Clifford points out in the webinar, “We know that when patient experience is improved, there will be a positive impact on revenue.”

There’s much more to learn in the hour-long webinar, including the details of how YEXT and Binary Fountain work with HCA to automate the digital patient experience, online information updates and reputation management, plus a detailed slide deck illustrating the steps of patient engagement and acquisition.

You’re invited to have a listen and a look. Just Sign In Here.

About the Author

Sabrina Egan
Engagement Manager

Sabrina helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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August 24, 2017

How to handle PHI from online reviews and surveys

By: John McFeely

There’s no question that patient reviews are growing ever more important to healthcare organizations and their providers. The new digitally-empowered healthcare consumer rules: seventy-seven percent of patients today use online reviews when choosing a provider. The prevalence of online comments, and the sheer number of online comments and reviews on sites like Facebook and Google…

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There’s no question that patient reviews are growing ever more important to healthcare organizations and their providers. The new digitally-empowered healthcare consumer rules: seventy-seven percent of patients today use online reviews when choosing a provider. The prevalence of online comments, and the sheer number of online comments and reviews on sites like Facebook and Google make it much more likely that protected health information (PHI) will show up online.

It is vital that a healthcare organization establish a process for handling situations where a patient posts an online review or comment related to their physicians or facility – and reveals their PHI. This goes beyond good consumer relations, of course. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) imposes stiff financial penalties for privacy breaches and exposure of PHI. The legal tangle that can result is reason enough to be pro-active on privacy.

What’s your procedure for monitoring reviews with PHI?

The ‘early warning system’ for dealing with PHI is your reputation management policy and the tools you use to maintain it. Make sure you are monitoring online mentions of your facilities and providers for potential trouble: watch for addresses, names, procedures, and other signs of exposed PHI. Here’s a list of the you need to know.

When it comes to managing reviews on your facility’s provider pages, Binary Fountain recommends publishing all comments from patient experience surveys, whatever the sentiment. However, comments should be monitored for PHI (along with profanity and libelous comments), with the identifying content being removed before it’s published, in accordance with the HIPAA privacy rule. This is a best-practice approach that reflects industry standards.

When monitoring third-party online rating and review sites, your editing tools should include templates that help ensure consistency of response, so that the reply is appreciated as genuine, rather than canned or robot-like. You should analyze patient feedback from a multitude of online sources to ensure maximum coverage: social media, review sites, advocacy forums, blogs and others.

Are you responding properly?
In situations where there is potential PHI exposure, it’s essential to adopt and follow a written response procedure that immediately engages Legal, Patient Advocacy and Customer Care staff as appropriate to the individual case.

In coordination with them, your response should come within a couple days – hours, if possible. The longer PHI sits exposed to public view, the more troublesome it is. Take the conversation offline rather than risking an online back-and-forth that could worsen the situation. Requesting that they remove the PHI is in their best interest – not just yours. Also, if the PHI is disclosed in a complaint or negative review, the provider appears to the public as neglectful and uncaring. In this case continue to take the conversation offline and help them contact a patient relations staffer.

Are you prepared?
It’s vital to have in place a reputation management program that actively seeks comment, and that actively engages with consumers. So, what’s the best time to prepare your response to comments, complaints or reviews that potentially expose PHI? NOW, before the next comment is posted!

To learn more, visit our blog homepage.

About the Author

John McFeely
Sales Director

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August 16, 2017

The Return on Engagement of Healthcare Reputation Management

By: Brian Williams

Online reputation management has become an essential part of healthcare marketing and patient relations for hospitals and medical practices. In a world that’s focused on returns, healthcare reputation management yields opportunities for ROE – Return on Engagement. More and more, patients spend time online researching healthcare providers. Providers are seeing more reviews about their practice…

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Online reputation management has become an essential part of healthcare marketing and patient relations for hospitals and medical practices. In a world that’s focused on returns, healthcare reputation management yields opportunities for ROE – Return on Engagement.

More and more, patients spend time online researching healthcare providers. Providers are seeing more reviews about their practice and their physicians on third-party rating and review sites. With our own research showing that 95% of people find online ratings to be reliable, and Brightlocal reporting that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, more healthcare organizations are developing their own reputation management programs. However, many are only listening – not analyzing and responding to reviews. As one marketing executive said, “if we’re not engaging with our patients, then other people are going to tell the story for us.”

Engage with patients to create a better experience
Today’s informed patients expect the same kind of interaction they receive from hotels or their favorite retailer. Responsive engagement is the key to a good reputation. For instance, if a patient posts a negative comment from your waiting room, you may have the opportunity to resolve the issue immediately, if you’re actively monitoring and responding to comments. We’ve seen many cases where patients have changed a negative online review to a positive one, or removed it, after marketing engaged them and helped facilitate service recovery.

One important result of engagement is – more engagement. Our customer success team reports that reviews tend to increase in number, especially when the practice regularly engages and responds to patient feedback. When prospective patients see that the practice is listening and responding, this encourages further customer engagement. Patients want to share their good experiences with the world and healthcare marketers can get the best ROE when they provide a convenient way for them to do so.

ROE depends on effective reputation management
As vital as it is to manage online reviews on third party websites, you also need to engage prospective patients on your healthcare organization’s physician directory pages.  An effective tool can help support the program.

Providence Health & Services (PH&S), the fourth largest not-for-profit health system in the United States, is doing just that. They’re managing ratings and comments from patient experience surveys and publishing them on its provider pages. In 2015, PH&S rolled out our transparency solution across its Oregon market, with star ratings and reviews published on more than 500 of its physician profile pages. Several months in, an analysis of 86 primary care providers and 64 specialists (150 physicians in all) revealed a dramatic effect on consumer behavior. You can read more about it here.

Sustain and grow reputation management
How are bad and good reviews impacting your providers and organization? Engaging with online reviews can help maximize your online presence, increase patient acquisition and loyalty, and improve your reputation. Your physicians and management will appreciate it. Looking to get started or just need some tips? Here are some best practices on responding to online reviews.

About the Author

Brian Williams
Engagement Manager

Brian helps healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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August 04, 2017

5 Mistakes That Can Seriously Damage Your Reputation – and What You Can Do to Avoid Them

By: Zargham Ghani

What should you do with a negative online review? You must respond quickly – and correctly – or the situation could get out of hand, spiraling into an unwanted public argument that can torch the practice’s reputation and even invite legal troubles. Here are five reputation management mistakes that can have devastating effects, and some…

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What should you do with a negative online review? You must respond quickly – and correctly – or the situation could get out of hand, spiraling into an unwanted public argument that can torch the practice’s reputation and even invite legal troubles.

Here are five reputation management mistakes that can have devastating effects, and some simple ways to avoid them.

1. Allow the physician to respond (Don’t. Seriously, DON’T!)
If the response to a bad review comes directly from the doctor, what began as a patient relations challenge can easily turn troublesome. Having the physician discuss a complaint risks escalating a bad review into a back-and-forth of accusation and retaliation – in full online view of the public. It’s better to 1) onboard them to how marketing can handle engaging reviews; 2) tactfully inform the physician that a bad review has appeared; 3) keep them away from the keyboard, and 4) update them as you move offline to discuss and resolve the matter with the unhappy patient.

In the long term, the best way to prevent online confrontations is to adopt a transparency initiative that actively engages physicians in the review process.

2. Have no written policy for responding to reviews
Patient reviews and social media comments are now the norm in health care, so it is vital to have in place a written policy for responding to reviews, positive or negative. Timely, effective response depends on your staff knowing who is assigned to monitor reviews, what legal pitfalls to look for (libel, Protected Health Information, HIPAA violations, etc.), who will respond and how the response will be tailored. A thorough, well-rounded policy with response templates offers confidence that every review will receive a prompt and appropriate answer.

3. Respond too slowly to a negative review – or ignore it altogether
Address both positive and negative reviews within two or three business days at most. If the review is negative, reach out to the patient as soon as possible and assist them in contacting a patient relations staffer instead of discussing the issue online. Waiting too long to respond will likely further frustrate the patient. A complaint that goes unanswered tells the world your practice doesn’t care about patients.

Binary Fountain provides the platform and best practices for healthcare marketers looking to engage patient reviews harvested from over 100 online sources, including social media, review sites, advocacy forums, blogs and other sources.

4. Make a bad review worse by pursuing the conversation online or arguing with the patient
It’s tempting to come to the defense of your practice by justifying the steps that led to a complaint, or disputing the patient’s account. Don’t start a public conversation that could reveal Protected Health Information (PHI), or draw unwanted attention to the issue before there’s a chance to seek resolution.

5. Allow a HIPAA violation
HIPAA privacy rule violations can occur even where the intentions are the best. Online reviews heighten the risk. One medical practice paid a fine recently when an online post describing a positive medical outcome – which didn’t name the patient – was judged to have revealed enough personal information to make their identity obvious to neighbors in the small town where the patient lived. For reviews that have legal implications, such as revealing PHI, develop a policy and process with your legal department that includes contacting them immediately for advice on reaching out to the patient about their issue and request that the comment be removed.

Want to learn more about best practices? Read this blog post on “Reputation Management and Responding to Reviews.”

About the Author

Zargham Ghani
Engagement Manager

Zargham help healthcare organizations better understand their healthcare consumer challenges and needs, in order to efficiently manage and improve patient satisfaction.

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