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January 31, 2018

Healthcare Security – Corporate Culture and IT Security

By: Mark Beckmeyer

Here’s more from Mark Beckmeyer, Binary Fountain’s Director of IT Security. Mark’s 30 years of experience gives him deep insight on the ways that healthcare entities can evaluate, implement, and maintain their security compliance programs. Privacy and security as corporate culture My previous blog described some of the threats that keep healthcare IT security executives…

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Here’s more from Mark Beckmeyer, Binary Fountain’s Director of IT Security. Mark’s 30 years of experience gives him deep insight on the ways that healthcare entities can evaluate, implement, and maintain their security compliance programs.

Privacy and security as corporate culture

My previous blog described some of the threats that keep healthcare IT security executives awake at night. Day-to-day defenses against hack attacks, ransomware, PHI exposure and HIPAA violations occur at the operational level. But it’s vital that the enterprise-wide culture of security originate from the top. An active, involved Chief Security Officer, working with CIO, CTO and compliance executives, will drive the organization to stay current on security innovations and evolving threats, to continuously adopt and implement IT safeguards and to enforce privacy and security policies with regular awareness and training updates.

Management sets the tone

In the 2017 attack on Equifax, hackers exploited a known security flaw to steal records of 143 million people – names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and more. The company admitted learning of the vulnerability two months before the attack, and in the end the CIO and CSO were fired.  In a company that sets high security standards from the top down, would the flaw have been patched as soon as it was discovered?

In my career, I have seen pro-active organizations embrace security, versus the kind of reactive approach that can often lead to forming the foundation for enabling the development and propagation of security risks. If top management doesn’t understand the ROI of security – if executives think of it as an expense and not an investment in the company – this lack of commitment can have costly consequences.

A case in point is a large health insurer. An on-site risk assessment revealed that their data center had no backup power supply, a problem the company chose not to address quickly. Soon afterward the data center was knocked out of service by electrical damage from a hurricane. It’s ironic that an insurance company was reluctant to invest a small amount to insure uninterrupted operation of vital systems.

Top management should never be stuck saying, “We didn’t know about this vulnerability” when a breach happens. C-level executives must engage in a regular back and forth with IT and security managers, to reinforce the cultural commitment to security, and to receive reports from the operational staff. Details like making security a standing topic of weekly staff meetings can go a long way in supporting communications. If not, the consequence is that management forfeits the chance to set the tone, and could leave itself in the dark on the news of risks, and responses to actual breaches.

Exceptional security means no exceptions

Even more dangerous, management sometimes behave as if security standards don’t apply at their level. There was a CIO who actually helped architect an internet access system that bypassed security. In another case, staffers used secure servers to store personal music files. Physicians are important, but they should never be allowed to dictate the organization’s approach to security.

Compliance is a milepost, not a destination

Whether due to lack of vision or misperception of the true cost, management might make the mistake of checking off regulatory and procedural boxes as the end goal. As important as HIPAA compliance and SOC 2 certification are, they are mileposts on the road to healthcare information security, not destinations.

Best practices with staff

Although people in IT often fulfill multiple roles, best practice argues against putting the same person in charge of both IT and security, because this can lead to blind spots. It’s not easy to design a demanding penetration challenge exercise on your own IT systems.

Ideally, every employee’s performance evaluation should include criteria for meeting security goals, with positive points for training and awareness participation, as well as negative points for actual breaches.

Excellence at all levels

An organization’s culture of security should commence at the very top from the board of directors to the C-level executives and throughout all levels of the workforce. Establishing security as a performance metric helps keep awareness high, and demonstrates the tangible commitment of the organization to effective security.

We hope that every healthcare organization and practice will work to be the best of the best. Excellence is measured not by the size of the budget, but by the strength of the commitment to excel at security and to operate at a level well above minimal standards of compliance.

Mark Beckmeyer, D.Sc., CISSP, is Binary Fountain’s Director of IT 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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December 28, 2017

2017: A Look Back at Healthcare Marketing

By: Brian Williams

Recently we chatted with Aaron Clifford, BF’s Senior VP of Marketing about the year that’s coming to a close. Here some of Aaron’s thoughts and observations on this year in healthcare marketing. 2017 has seen continued rapid expansion of transparency and reputation management as more and more providers and companies recognize the importance of patient…

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Recently we chatted with Aaron Clifford, BF’s Senior VP of Marketing about the year that’s coming to a close. Here some of Aaron’s thoughts and observations on this year in healthcare marketing. 2017 has seen continued rapid expansion of transparency and reputation management as more and more providers and companies recognize the importance of patient engagement.

Also, we’ve continued to see content marketing take on new forms. From video to podcasting, rich and useful content has taken over the space once occupied by blogs that resemble press releases.

The year of the video
Video is more widespread and the range of topics it’s used for has expanded. Following the lead of pioneers like Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, healthcare has embraced video for engaging patients with tons of new small-scale content.

In the past, videos tended to celebrate and spotlight the business, with ribbon-cuttings and announcements of new services. This year, many more health systems are creating and promoting video content that focuses on benefiting their patients.

As smart phones, social media and live video events converge in channels like YouTube, Instagram, and especially Facebook video, the audience has expanded dramatically and enthusiastically.

Online marketing budgets are shifting focus
Here’s a trend that picked up in 2017, and shows every sign of accelerating in 2018: We’re seeing top of the funnel budget priorities move away from SEO and toward social advertising on channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn (for B2B marketing). With more toolsets and insights, social advertising is rising, but is still far from hitting its peak.

New tools in customer support
Chatbots are rising fast as a tool for interacting with and engaging patients. Making use of progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing, they’re a powerful way to collect and deliver information and to provide support. Additionally, Forbes reports “The Customer Experience Cloud” is gaining prominence. In addition to the marketing cloud and sales cloud, bringing together data and insights from the customer journey to better serve the customer is becoming a high priority for many organizations.

Once a headline, now a habit
Mobile communications has long since evolved past the “What will they think of next?” stage. Now, for huge numbers of people, it’s the everyday way to connect with healthcare. Once it was a headline, but today, with a smart phone in every pocket and purse, it’s how we interact. Whether it’s researching a symptom, finding a physician, or leaving a review for a physician, a vast majority of people use their mobile device over a desktop to perform these tasks.

In the same way, marketing automation has moved from innovation to maturity. Along the way, public acceptance has risen – the key to continued success in this area is personalization.

Finally, the spread and the success of these trends and tools – mobile access, video, patient interaction and marketing automation – has meant that they are not just for the biggest health care providers. Now, providers of every size can adopt, embrace, and reap the benefits of transparency, patient engagement and reputation management.

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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December 19, 2017

How to Address Three Common Concerns That Can Slow Down a Reputation Management Program

By: Sabrina Egan

When your job is to get a reputation management program up and running, you want to make sure that momentum doesn’t evaporate. What steps can you take to make sure things stay on track when you run into a roadblock? Recently, members of our Binary Fountain Customer Success Team gathered to offer some advice to…

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When your job is to get a reputation management program up and running, you want to make sure that momentum doesn’t evaporate. What steps can you take to make sure things stay on track when you run into a roadblock? Recently, members of our Binary Fountain Customer Success Team gathered to offer some advice to staffers who are getting started with their reputation management programs.

We’re tight on resources, time and staff”

Starting up a reputation management program can seem overwhelming. The marketing manager or other staff members tasked with the effort may not feel like there’s enough time to start managing all the online reviews and surveys they receive. Our team recommends the old axiom about how to eat an elephant: take it one bite at a time. Once you begin breaking things down into manageable components, the program becomes more approachable. Plus the tools we offer can help save time in your daily efforts.

Another approach, especially in small-to-medium-sized medical practices or facilities, is to decentralize responsibilities. Individual practice managers – not just marketing – can take on reputation management tasks. They’re already more familiar with their physicians, their services and in some cases help coordinate their patient survey program.

“Responding to reviews — where do we begin?”

There are so many components to reputation management that it can be difficult to decide what to tackle first. The Binary Fountain customer success team suggests responding to all reviews, positive or negative, as a best practice. However, as a first foothold, it makes sense to choose service recovery as the first priority. Collect some data on providers and locations. If one stands out as having a lower reputation, start there, track results, and work toward improving sentiment.

When it comes to which sites to start with, get your dashboard in order and start with one review site, such as Google my business, recommends the team. You can prioritize which sites to add from there based on where reviews are coming from.

“What if we don’t have many reviews?”

The problem of not enough reviews is worth tackling, too – analysis shows that when searching for a provider people value the volume of reviews in addition to the quality. With the right campaign of post-visit surveys and scheduled email follow-ups, the reviews will accumulate, and the quality is likely to rise as well.

Because it’s now a necessity to demonstrate “return on engagement,” there’s no time like the present to get busy, inviting and gathering reviews, and responding to both unfavorable and favorable ones.

Are you responsible for getting started with reputation management? Do you need some advice on some of the questions we’ve touched on so briefly in this post? Contact our team for more information on how to get started with transparency and reputation management.

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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December 05, 2017

Highlights from the Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement survey

By: George LaDue

Recently, Binary Fountain commissioned the OnePoll research organization to connect with more than a thousand adults who report having a physician. The purpose of the survey was to learn directly from healthcare consumers what things matter in their patient experience and to get a fresh look into their use of ratings and review sites. The…

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Recently, Binary Fountain commissioned the OnePoll research organization to connect with more than a thousand adults who report having a physician. The purpose of the survey was to learn directly from healthcare consumers what things matter in their patient experience and to get a fresh look into their use of ratings and review sites.

The survey, entitled “Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement,” yielded these two top-line findings:

  • Healthcare consumers continue to count on online ratings and reviews when choosing a provider.
  • Non-clinical aspects of the healthcare experience play an important role in the attitude of consumers toward their providers, and in their online reviews.

“Online ratings, reviews and social media need to be carefully monitored and evaluated by healthcare providers to remain competitive in today’s healthcare market,” says Aaron Clifford, Binary Fountain’s Senior VP of Marketing.

Binary Fountain Consumer Survey Infographic

Online ratings matter – a lot
Online reviews and ratings have evolved and spread from restaurants, hotels and ecommerce purchases to a role of considerable importance in healthcare. In search for unfiltered opinion, today’s patients turn to online ratings and reviews as part of their process of researching and choosing a provider. These findings clearly illustrate the power of rating and review sites in today’s age of healthcare consumerism:

  • 95 percent of respondents regard online ratings and reviews as “somewhat” to “very” reliable.
  • 75 percent of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when choosing a physician.
  • 30 percent of consumers share their own healthcare experiences via social media and online ratings and review sites.

Which rating sites rank highest?
What are the top sources respondents use to choose a physician? Thirty-four percent use Google; 17 percent HealthGrades; 13 percent Consumer Health Ratings and Rate MDs and 12 percent Yelp.

Millennials share their own healthcare experiences online
Among respondents aged 25-34, some 60 percent of respondents say they share their physician/hospital experiences via online platforms, including social media and online ratings and review sites. The survey reveals that respondents of all age groups prefer Facebook for sharing their healthcare experiences – except for 18-24 year-olds, who flock to Twitter.

Consumers expect “care” with their healthcare
In today’s experience economy, there is a direct connection between patient experience and reputation. According to the survey, the factor that matters most to patients when they rate or evaluate a physician is “a friendly and caring attitude.”

When responses are separated by gender, the most important factor to women is “a friendly and caring attitude,” while men believe “thoroughness of the examination” is the most important factor. The second most influential factor for all the patients surveyed is “thoroughness of the examination,” followed by “ability to answer all my questions.”

Aaron Clifford comments on the impact of these responses: “Industry research shows online ratings and reviews do not indicate the quality outcomes of the healthcare providers, however, they do provide insights on how the patient is experiencing various aspects of care.”

The main pain point is time
Asked what is the most frustrating issue about a visit to the doctor, survey respondents across the board mentioned “time:”

  • All ages (except the 18-24 segment) answered “wait time” as the most frustrating thing about visiting the doctor.
  • Millennials between the ages of 18-24 are three times more likely to be frustrated with “having to schedule an appointment” than any other age group.

In response to the question, “what is one thing you think your doctor could do better,” nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) wrote time-related recommendations, including such suggestions as: reduced wait time, better scheduling of appointments, stop overbooking appointments, offer more availability and respond to patient calls faster. Twenty-seven percent of the respondents offered qualitative time-related recommendations: make time to be friendlier and more caring, spend more time listening to my concerns and answering my questions, and take the time to provide a better bedside manner. All of these dissatisfaction triggers relate to service delivery, rather than clinical outcome.

Overall, the survey reveals a great deal about the close relationship of patient experience to the quality of online reviews and the reputation of the provider.

As Aaron Clifford puts it, “Now more than ever before, healthcare providers need to play an active role in managing their online reputation in an effort to improve patient experience and increase patient retention.”

About the Author

George LaDue
Sales Director

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

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November 30, 2017

Webinar Recap: Innovating the Digital Healthcare Consumer Experience

By: John McFeely

In case you missed it, the Forum for Healthcare Strategists hosted a webinar, “Innovating the Digital Healthcare Consumer Experience.” Moderated by Karen Corrigan, CEO of Corrigan Partners, the webinar featured digital healthcare trends marketers need to plan for and act on to stay ahead of the consumer curve and Providence St. Joseph Health’s (PSJH) approach to creating a better…

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In case you missed it, the Forum for Healthcare Strategists hosted a webinar, “Innovating the Digital Healthcare Consumer Experience.” Moderated by Karen Corrigan, CEO of Corrigan Partners, the webinar featured digital healthcare trends marketers need to plan for and act on to stay ahead of the consumer curve and Providence St. Joseph Health’s (PSJH) approach to creating a better consumer experience.

We first heard from Shweta Ponnappa, Vice President, Digital Marketing at Seattle-based PSJH. Shweta built and oversees the system-wide digital marketing program for PSJH. This not-for-profit health system encompasses some 106,000 caregivers across 50 hospitals and 829 clinics. A digital leader in online marketing, she brings more than 14 years’ experience, including her most recent role at Amazon. Shweta works to bring the user-centricity and measurability of great eCommerce digital experiences to healthcare.

The Three Pillars of Digital Marketing at PSJH

Shweta described three top priorities of digital marketing, and how they’re implemented at Providence St. Joseph Health:

Be Found
Knowing that there are some 50 million searches a day on health and medical topics, it’s imperative for providers to be findable, and to provide compelling information to help the consumer make a choice. Shweta showed before-and-after examples of a physician listing in Google results, and described how to use the to expand on the detail of the basic results. She showed how PSJH utilizes information in physician listings, including prominent display of first-party reviews and ratings.

She also showed that implementing these improvements resulted in a significant (21x!) lift in physician traffic for PSJH.

Location findability improves in very impressive ways when this principle is applied. In one presentation slide, Shweta showed how PSJH achieved a steep increase in searches, views, and resulting consumer actions. 

Be Personal
Shweta showed how PSJH facilitates contact and interaction with patients, in a series of slides illustrating the ways marketing automation is used to help guide patients to utilize the appropriate service.

Be a Growth Engine
Shweta discussed her innovative approach to improvement in her department. As part of their annual team goals, each member of the digital marketing team commits to designing and running two marketing experiments per month. She illustrated their success with examples of a mobile app that helped increase booking rates from 7% to 10%; an email marketing test with a surprising twist that yielded a 46% higher clickthrough rate; and a web content test that helped appointment bookings jump by some 200%.

Concluding, Shweta illustrated some ways that the PSJH marketing platform anchors the enterprise’s digital presence, describing it as, “an ecosystem of technologies that lets us manage, deliver and optimize experiences consistently across every digital touchpoint.”

Aaron Clifford, Binary Fountain’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, provided further insights following Shweta’s presentation. Aaron has more than 15 years of healthcare industry experience, most recently as the senior director of digital marketing solutions for HCA Healthcare. There, he created the vision for HCA’s enterprise-wide reputation management program and helped devise and implement digital strategy for 171 hospitals, 119 free standing surgery centers, 830 physician clinics, and multiple business units across the HCA system.

Aaron’s presentation offered more information about review management, transparency, and artificial intelligence. He began by describing the main steps in the healthcare consumer journey.

Consumer Journey
Aaron described the four main mileposts on the journey of the health consumer: 

Discovery
The prospective patient researches symptoms or conditions online, then decides what type of provider to see.

Selection
The patient consults search engines, health directories and reviews sites on the way to choosing a new provider.

Point of Care
Patient’s experience is influenced  by details like directions, office staff, wait times, billing problems, and more. 

Feedback
The patient leaves feedback on a visit to an online review site. 

Reviews Matter
Aaron revealed an impressive result from a recent Binary Fountain survey conducted with OnePoll: 75% of people responding in the survey said that online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when selecting a physician. Aaron also discussed the value of collecting and displaying first-party ratings and reviews sourced from CAHPS surveys – consumers say that star ratings and patient comments are helpful in choosing a provider.

Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing

Aaron described the rising importance of artificial intelligence in healthcare, and quoted a forecast by Accenture that the AI market in healthcare will reach more than $6.5 billion by the year 2021.

He then showed how Natural Language Processing can delve deeper into patient experience than simple survey rating questions. In a slide showing a parent’s online review of a clinic visit with her daughter, the parent’s words are highlighted to show how NLP can analyze sentiment and assign to patient experience categories like timeliness of care, doctor’s bedside manner, office environment and more.

View it Today

Would you like to know more about the webinar? You’re invited to listen and a look. Just Sign In Here.

About the Author

John McFeely
Sales Director

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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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