Marketing For Healthcare Providers

Healthcare is rapidly changing. As a practitioner, how should you think about attracting new patients, navigating online reviews, and building a brand? Read this report.


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Science and Serendipity in Seven Easy Steps

You know the story. It goes something like this:

On an ordinary September morning in 1928, Alexander Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist working at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, came back from vacation to find that one of his Petri dishes containing Staphylococcus aureus growing in culture had been contaminated by greenish mold.

Instead of throwing a fit, Fleming grew curious over this finding. After much thought and months of further testing, he discovered that there was something in the fungus that had killed off the bacteria, and he isolated this mysterious fluid. He would later call this substance penicillin. Read more…

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Six Mistakes Doctors Make Online

Doctors make lots of mistakes navigating the world of social media. And for good reason: few of us have been trained to understand the tools, let alone the rules, of public life. I’ve been connecting with doctors as long as social networks have been available. Here are a some mistakes (and a few solutions) I’ve seen:

Believing that you’re a clinic, not a person. While @SameDayLapBand might seem like the best way to build your practice, it overlooks what human engagement is about. The patients who might hire you for their surgery are more likely to respond to a person than a clinic. When choosing how you position yourself on social platforms, be you, not a building or a procedure. Build your identity around your name. You’ll be more believable and real. Read more…

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Digital Health’s Secret Recipe

I understand that for some, digital health still might be a bitter pill, but the promise of techno-medical mumbo jumbo is bold and transformative. That being said, in my opinion, the “secret sauce” to digital health might be a bit outside the conventional “drug development” methodology– both in logistics and psychology.

Therefore, I thought it would be fun to take a page out of IBM’s Watson playbook. IMB recently used “cognitive cooking” to combine a wide variety of ingredients to craft entirely new, often unexpected, and frequently delicious taste sensations. For example, who ever thought of combining bourbon with vanilla, bananas, and turmeric? Yep. Watson did. Because digital health combines a variety of flavors that some might not immediately appreciate, I reasoned that we can apply the very same “cognitive creating” approach. Let’s have a taste… Read more…

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The Power of Reversing Roles

Another day, another pacemaker, at least so it seemed at first.

The usual steps of greeting the patient, answering the last questions, consent signing, placement of the IV, EKG leads, prepping of the surgical site, and initiation of the preoperative antibiotics had all taken place. Now, the patient lay there, smiling, knowing he’d made the right decision after years of struggling with his arrhythmia in other ways. His heart was showing signs of slight weakening and his arrhythmias remained too fast despite a multitude of therapies, so he had agreed to proceed with placement of a biventricular pacemaker with later ablation of his AV node. Read more…

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Harnessing Healthcare Data for Patient Flow

In recent years, we’ve been generating and collecting more healthcare data than ever, thanks to the federal government’s investment of nearly $20 billion in the widespread adoption of health information technology. At present those records are used primarily to enhance the quality of individual patients’ care. But there’s another opportunity here: to optimize overall healthcare operations, including smoothing the flow of patients, which can dramatically improve care and enhance the patient experience.

Hospitals are typically overburdened on some days and underutilized on others, for reasons that are controllable but not easy to manage: doctors’ preferences, patients’ preferences, and the availability of particular facilities among them. That leads to peaks and valleys of patient flow. Research has shown that clinical staff overload during peaks is significantly correlated with increased rates of infection, readmission, and mortality. The peaks also lead to preventable delays at emergency rooms, doctors’ visits, and various diagnostics and procedures. Read more…

Sharlay Butler, UW Medicine Student, 10-23-13 (c)2013 karenorders.com

In the Hospital, Cancer’s Shared Stories

Mrs. C was used to my quiet knock every morning at 6 AM. She smiled as I turned on the overhead lights, but began to grimace when she realized that today was dressing-change day. The rustling packages of bandages in my overstuffed coat pockets had given it away. Mrs. C had stage four metastatic endometrial cancer; a malignancy of her uterus that was not responding well to chemotherapy and had now spread into her colon. She had just undergone another tumor debulking surgery that involved a bowel resection and had left her with a temporary colostomy.

As my team followed me into her room for morning rounds, I remembered the first time I had met Mrs. C just weeks before. She had been pleasantly discussing with her gynecologic oncology surgeon the clinical trials that she would soon be eligible for, once she recovered from her upcoming surgery. The next time I met Mrs. C, she was gowned and kissing her children a final time before being rolled back to the operating room. I remembered studying the stages of her type of cancer and memorizing her imaging, but nothing could really prepare me for the first time I saw, felt, and registered what terminal cancer looked like: A sea of pearly tumors interjected with bulky abdominal masses, all stuck to different parts of her bowels. I couldn’t believe all of that was silently overtaking her body, just a few inches beneath her skin. Read more…

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Integrative Goes Mainstream: Will You Get Creative or Just Employed?

Have you ever heard of Massage Envy? It’s a nationwide franchise that launched a few years back, just as Americans were hearing more and more about the health benefits of stress-reducing approaches like yoga, acupuncture, and (yes) massage. Massage Envy capitalized on this wave of interest by offering consumers a decent massage for a reasonable price. Unsurprisingly, it’s become an incredibly successful business.

That same national interest in wellness that launched franchises like Massage Envy is helping integrative approaches to chronic diseases become much more popular. Whether you take your signals from the Cleveland Clinic’s new Functional Medicine Center or perhaps the collaborative physician models at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, it is now clear that preventive medicine is here to stay. Read more…

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Cath or Kale: My Journey from Cardiac Intervention to Prevention

Blame it on Dean Ornish. It was 1990 and I had just completed three years of cardiology training with a veritable dream list of mentors in Kansas City. I was not cocky, but I was confident – and proud to be among the fewer than 15 cardiologists ever to work side-by-side with Dr. Geoffrey Hartzler and learn his pioneering techniques. I was certain I knew the trick to curing heart disease: 20 mm of polyethylene inflated for 60 seconds in every heart artery that needed it.

At that age, I was also a serious student of medical literature, and I had an appetite for reading all the journals at publication. As a result, I could practically smell the fresh ink on The Lancet when I discovered something that confounded me: A randomized trial of intensive cardiac lifestyle change that compared a plant-based, low-fat diet to conventional therapy – and the results were striking. The Lifestyle Heart Trial demonstrated that long-standing heart disease and endothelial damage were reversible with intelligent use of the fork, the feet, and a focus on community and stress management. Low-tech combined with high-touch intervention could melt plaque away. Not a balloon, not a laser, not an atherocath, but greens. The audacity! Read more…

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On Personhood and Doctoring

For someone who has spent the majority of his professional life sheltered in dark offices and aseptic hospitals, it’s a strange thing to be driving about in your car in the middle of the day. This must have been what it felt like before my immersion into the tribe of medicine.

Sometimes I have trouble remembering my premedical years. The divide seems vast. It is not only the effects of age but an emotional chasm that has formed over the years. The optimist says I was naive, inexperienced. The more harsh reality is that I have developed a cynicism, a coarseness which permeates all aspects of life. I am a person, I am a doctor. The two mangled halves rarely come together to approach a whole. Read more…

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A Petition for Prevention

During my surgical subspecialty rotation, I spent one week on the Limb Salvage service. As a branch of plastic surgery, this area of work requires extensive training and academic dedication. Yet a portion of the practice involves a task that, from a distance, appears primitive: amputation of unsalvageable limbs. Although most of my time on this service involved smaller procedures such as debriding old wounds down to viable tissue, the most unforgettable moments of that experience were spent watching surgeons meticulously remove patients’ legs and close up the wounds.

While many of my colleagues reveled in the technique and skillfulness of the procedure, I could not help but question, how did the patient get to this point? Read more…