Ritz Carlton Hospital Consierge Program Is Expanding: Can It Increase Patient Volumes?

July 7, 2010

So your patient comes into the ED with abdominal pain. Like an increasing amount of the population, she is single, here on a corporate move and so has little community. Now she has been diagnosed with a simple appendicitis requiring a minimally-invasive appendectomy. No problem, right?

No problem for your hospital because this is routine to you. BUT not routine to the patient.

Who will call her family in a far away town? Who will feed her dog? Or walk her dog? Who will contact her employer? Who will make sure groceries and a cleaning service show up to her home? Who will deliver meals the first few days?

If you are a smart business, YOU will be the “who” that does all those things. And if you can’t figure out how to do that, you can now contract Ritz-Carlton to do it.

Most trips to the ED are elective. Meaning, if you are not going in a ambulance in a very emergent situation, you choose where to go. You will choose among a set of hospitals that are close and perceived competent.

And any “elective” procedures will be selected by consumers based on the perceived value – like maternity, or most general surgeries, or orthopedics, or even open craniotomies are elective for crying out loud.

One way to build your value reputation is to provide extraordinary customer service. It is true in any business – including the hospital business.

So Ritz-Carlton is now marketing medical concierge service to hospitals after test marketing the concept in the Philadelphia area. Some hospitals have executed this on their own without a vendor. I am not saying concierge service is  a make-or-break thing for your marketing, but the time has come that you have to consider it.


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Android Finally Beats iPhone in U.S. Sales – What does that have to do with Increasing Patient Volume???

June 24, 2010

We can no longer ignore the 50 million smart phone users (and growing) if we are going to be effective marketers.

Here is a link to a short post I wrote about this previously. Since the time of that post, the trend has accelerated.

In number recently tabulated, in the first quarter of 2010, Apple secured a 21% market share, Android surged to 28%, and RIM’s BlackBerry held strong at 36%. And just wait a minute before things change:  Microsoft is due to launch their groundbreaking Windows Phone 7 phones and HP may re-launch Palm’s WebOS with new hardware and enough money to break into the big time.

Want another terrifying stat?? 70% of searches are online in 2010. That means you are probably irrelevant 30% of the time if your website is not mobile friendly.

These type of phones are media machines and studies show our ads have much bigger impact on devices than online or even on TV.

The future in nowtime to get our smartphone program together.


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Embracing Medical Apps to Increase Patient Volume

June 22, 2010

According to recent news, texts and apps can improve the health of your patients. With readily-available apps ranging from fitness routines to weightloss programs, there are undoubtedly questions about what this means to hospitals and physicians in relation to patient health. But, the lesson to be learned is that patient care and internal operations can be improved by embracing medical apps. Adaptations are what make it possible to increase your patient volume.

So, if you’re ready to jump in head first, it’s time for a crash-course in medical apps healthcare professionals need to know. These tools can improve your healthcare system and build better relationships with patients to ultimately increase patient volume.

Epocrates ($0-$299): Epocrates is a suite of apps that enable users to check medication dosing, interactions, whether the drug is covered by the patient’s health plan, and more.

AirStrip OB (Free): Lets obstetricians monitor patients’ statuses, such as baby’s heartbeat, remotely. Requires the AirStrip fetal software suite to be installed at the hospital.

Dr. Rounds ($24.99): By keeping track of patients–when and why they were seen–this app assures that any daily visit, consult, or procedure charge is accounted.

Care360 Mobile (Free): Physicians can e-prescribe as well as view patient allergies, lab results, medication history and potential drug interactions directly from the iPhone or iPod touch.

Allscripts Remote (Free): Doctors can review a patient’s summary while speaking with the patient on the iPhone, quickly access prescription details and send up-to-date patient summary information directly to emergency rooms.

Full Code and Full Code Pro ($.99-$1.99): Allows EMS personnel to record the critical interventions during a cardiac arrest.

For more detailed information on how professionals rate these programs, check out this article on Fast Company.

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Understanding Your Social Media Customer Will Increase Patient Volume

June 21, 2010

People turn online first when looking for healthcare information. Understanding the social customer will allow you to engage with them to increase patient volumes.

Here is what you should know about the social customer:

  • learns about new products and brands through social channels and trusts her social network to provide honest feedback about it, as opposed to a brand’s one-way advertising message.
  • is savvy, doesn’t respond well to unsolicited SPAM in her social networks or overly promotional tweets, but is open to relevant information that meets her needs at that particular moment.
  • expects brands to be present and active in the same social venues where she hangs out, listening to her feedback, whether it’s negative or positive.
  • expects you to listen and engage with her, not only when it coincides with an e-mail blast or new feature release, but rather when she needs you. And you better respond fast, in real-time, or she will either move on to a competitor, or tell her friends about her bad experiences.
  • Because the social customer can talk to a brand through many channels at the same time, she expects everyone she talks to from your company to have the same background on her issue. For example, if I complain about an airline on Twitter, I want the representative who engages me there to know my itinerary and the full history of our interaction through various channels.

Bottom line: The social customer owns the relationship, and you need to earn her trust.

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Use Social Media to Create a Regional/National Reach AND Increase Patient Volume

June 17, 2010

Social media tools allow you to generate thought leadership on a local, regional and national level with a limited marketing budget and time expenditure.

Unlike traditional marketing tactics which take large budgets and time commitments to reach a national audience, social media allows you to achieve the same goal in a shorter time with a small financial commitment.

Sounds too good to be true. Social media allows you to engage with your specific target audience at the moment they are looking for information. Take yourself for example, where do you go when you are looking for information? I go to the web.

Being Found Online and Creating Thought Leadership

Follow these five easy steps and you are on your way to being found and famous online. If you do it right, you will convert the traffic into increased patient volume.

  • Create a strategy:  This is the guidepost for your social media program
  • Identify your tools:  Start with 4-5 basic tools
  • Create a routine:  This is a behavioral change and you need to commit to making that change in behavior
  • Content is king:  Start writing. Relevant content is the secret to success
  • Inspect:  Set-up inspections not only of the metrics, but of the effort you and your team are putting into it. What’s measured grows.

Remember, it is not going to be easier tomorrow and you have lots of relevant information people are looking for. Take that information and turn it into patient volume.

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Communicating with Social Media is the Norm, Using it Will Increase Patient Volume

June 15, 2010

I say over and over, the way people communicate today has changed. Consumers expect information to be available at the moment they want it.  If you aren’t “in” the conversation – you don’t exist.  Social media allows you to be found online, participate in the conversation and increase patient volume.

A recent study shows 48% of people check Twitter/Facebook during the night or as soon as they wake up.

The study goes on to show that 1/3 of people have replaced traditional news sources (TV, newspapers) with Twitter and Facebook.

Are you on Twitter and Facebook? What are people saying about you? If you aren’t online, you can’t participate and influence the conversation.

Developing a Social Media Plan

If you aren’t online or aren’t active online, getting started is easy. The key is to take the time to develop your framework and strategy. It all starts with asking yourself these questions:

  • People: Your target audience
  • Objective: What you want to accomplish
  • Strategy: Plan how your relationship with customers will change
  • Technology: Decide what social media technologies to use

Once you have the answers, set-up a 60-day plan to get yourself started. Your framework can last you years and allow you to meet the consumer expectation’s of participation in the conversation.

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Increasing Patient Volume Through Call Center Technology

June 14, 2010

I laughed the other day when I received an automated voicemail that said, “You have an appointment with…’with your doctor.'”

Not very personal considering they didn’t even go the extra mile to state the name of my physician or the time of the appointment. Lesson learned: those standard voicemails actually matter (especially when they’re a waste of time rather than helpful). Which is why being aware of the latest in call center technology is important to increase your patient volume.

Your healthcare system’s call technology should be making your patients’ lives easier.

Check this out: A study of medical appointments and no-show rates conducted at Johns Hopkins determined that, “Published average show rates (SR) are 58%; young patients and those with low income patients are more likely to not show up. ‘I Forgot’ is the most common reason for a no-show.”

No one wants patient forgetfulness to be a contributing factor to decreased patient volume. Especially when it’s a problem with an easy solution: automated appointment reminders (via text or voicemail).

Here’s a brief checklist to review. How many of these areas are you confident you’re employing the most efficient call center technology to? The communication surrounding these categories should be valuable and convenient to your patients, which are important factors to consistently increase your patient volume.

  • Patient Payment Tracking & Billing
  • Appointment Reminders
  • Office Location/Hours
  • Medical Alerts
  • Prescription Status  & Renewal Reminders
  • Lab Results
  • Annual Checkup Calls
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