Monday, December 29, 2014

How Much Should I Spend on My Medical Advertising

We’re constantly asked by Doctors and Dentists, “how much should I spend on advertising my medical practice?” Our answer is, do you know how much you’re spending right now and do you know what you’re spending it on?  Most of the time, the answer is, "my office manager handles that." To help determine your advertising spend, we shared our medical advertising audit spreadsheet (FREE to download).  Plug in the amount of money you spend on a monthly basis.  You can also use the spreadsheet to organize your account representative’s contact info, your login info and contract expiration dates.  Once you figure out how much you’re spending, figure out what costs you can cut.

We recommend cutting out any programs that overcharges you for your Google advertising.  Also, cut out all your Yellow Pages (physical book) advertisements—they’re deprecating the outmoded phone book.

Advertising & Marketing Rule of Thumb:
1. A good marketing rule of thumb is to allocate 5%-10% of your gross revenue to your advertising and marketing spend.
2. Expect a minimum 3:1 return on investment (ROI) on your marketing and advertising spend.
3. Calculate the lifetime value of each patient:
(Average Co-pay) x (Number of Repeat Visits per Year) x (Average Retention Time in Years for a Typical Patient)
For example, the lifetime value of a patient who’s co-pay is $100 x 2 visits per year x 5 years.
The value of that patient would be: $100 x 2 visits x 5 years = $1000 in total revenue.

As long as the medical practice spends less than $300 to acquire a new patient, the patient will prove profitable in a short amount of time.  From this example, it's smart to offer a complimentary screening to help drive traffic to your clinic.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Before You Shoot Your Dental Office Video

More and more people are watching videos online—even your dental practice should make an explainer video.  An explainer video helps you to connect with your potential patients by showing them your office and your staff.  It is an opportunity to share your dental office’s personality by putting your best foot forward. It also gives you an opportunity to personally invite new patients through the door.

We recently shot our first explainer video for Yelp.  This is a real video shoot with a professional videographer.  While on location, the videographer shot b-roll of the office and facilitated a personal interview with the dentist.

But, before you shoot your video, we wanted to share 7 best practices:

1. Prepare your script.
2. Clearly explain your practice offerings, e.g. family dentist, pediatrics, orthodontics.
3. Highlight any deals.
4. Make sure to describe the patient’s experience.
5. Showcase the facility’s dental equipment.
6. Invite new patients to the practice and send them to your website for more information.
7. Most importantly, Smile!  You’re on camera.

As an example, watch our video on our client's (Washington Pediatric Dentistry) Yelp page:
*Don't forget: Make sure to get model release forms from the patients.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Yelp Reviews: Don’t Take It Personal

How to monitor and respond to your medical practice’s online reputation

It’s very difficult not to take it personal when a patient makes an untrue comment or leaves an unfair review.  Initially, you want to give that patient a piece of your mind.  Don’t take it personal!  They’re probably just venting and taking it out on the computer.  Most of the time the reviews are positive. But, once in a while, a negative review pops up on Yelp.  Enclosed are 7 tips to help your medical practice respond to online patient reviews.

1. Don’t violate your patient’s privacy.
Patients are disclosing their Protected Health Information (“PHI”). Any self-disclosed medical information from the patient cannot be protected.  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) applies online.  Many medical practices are violating HIPAA rules without even knowing it.  Once the patient uploads their picture, discloses their name and location they are no longer de-identified.  If they describe their medical procedure or take pictures of their surgery, they have self-disclosed their PHI records.  Be careful, you violate HIPPA when you respond; respond on the phone and in the office.

2. Keep your personal and professional profiles separate.  
Create a business page that professionally responds to your patients.  Don’t forget! You’re still the doctor; be sympathetic to your patient’s needs.  They might be acting irrationally because they are afraid of the medical results of their visit.

3. Respond to positive reviews.
Prepare your office with a boilerplate response for positive reviews:

“Thank you for visiting our office and taking the time to write about your experience at our medical practice.  We value your opinion—please don’t hesitate to call us directly with your personal medical questions.”

4. Respond to negative reviews.
Also prepare your office with a boilerplate response for negative reviews.  It’s important to acknowledge the review. But, tell the patient to call the office immediately or speak in-person.

“We apologize for your negative experience and bringing it to our attention.  ‘Doctor Name’ would like to discuss your situation personally; please call our office at ‘Telephone #’.  Thank you.”

5. Don’t sue Yelp.
At times it seems like suing Yelp is the only option.  But, many state laws protect their online review platform.  If the patient review is fraudulent, flag the review—Yelp will audit the fake review immediately.

6. Don’t sue your patients.
If found not guilty, stifling the patient reviews for defamation of character can end up in expensive legal expenses.  Some states have anti-SLAPP jurisdiction (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation [“SLAPP”]).  Meaning, if they find your case frivolous they can ask your practice to pay for the patient’s legal expenses.

7. Never edit a response.
Leave it, delete it...but, never edit it.  If the response reveals private health related patient information, delete it immediately.  Never alter the patient’s response.  Due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, you’re medical practice is not liable for defamation on a review website from a third party participant.

Lastly, your online reputation is a serious matter—don’t take it lightly.  Dedicate your office manager or assign a trained professional to respond to your medical practice’s online reviews on a daily basis. The ongoing success of your medical business depends on it.