The Doctor is ON – Virtual Doctor Visits a Reality

About a year ago, Google offered a virtual handshake with physicians by offering an affordable and HIPAA compliant platform for physicians to offer virtual doctor visits to patients called helpouts. The HIPAA compliance piece requires a physician to check a box stating the expertise being offered is patient-specific healthcare advice and then providing medical license information as proof of knowledge. Some physicians have checked out this new tool and are now offering affordable virtual consultations to existing patients. Now one year later, Google is experimenting further with this telemedicine approach by giving some web searchers direct access to physicians when they search for specific health concerns such as eye or ear infections, flu-like symptoms, etc. In other words, the person searching doesn’t have to know helpouts exist. Google will bring the helpout to the person! This new search and help approach is currently only taking place with California providers, but if it is successful will likely be available to providers across the United States.

doctorisONWith all of the recent healthcare changes and challenges related to ObamaCare (or is the politically correct term now Affordable Care Act?), remote health advice was bound to be one of the solutions to gain popularity. After all, with more people consuming healthcare and fewer people providing it (due to lower reimbursements and general physician shortages), video chatting helps manage this “traffic” by eliminating the unnecessary resources needed to move patients through a waiting area. IN ADDITION, the recent Ebola scare makes not going to a doctor’s office where other patients can potentially “share” their afflictions is a welcome solution.

Patients have long been using the Internet for health advice. According to Pew Research, 72% of Americans admit to going online in the past year to gather health information. At the same time, healthcare providers voice concern over the volume of misinformation that is out there. One e-patient advocate even proposed a Snopes-style approach to misinformation. So what better way to improve the quality of medical information on the internet than to SEO optimize resources provided by physicians themselves? So why are sites like bashing this concept before it even gets off the ground? Do they have some better solutions to misinformation … or are they contributing to it? Only time will tell. Until then … Patients google away and see if the doctor is IN ON in your area. Physicians get out there and take advantage of all the wonderful technology that is being unveiled in healthcare. Something has to change, so let’s be on the cutting edge as it’s happening!


How to be a Powerhouse Content Creator in Healthcare

What can Symplur’s big data discoveries teach us about healthcare communications? How will pharmaceuticals approach social media with new guidelines set by the FDA? Is ELLO going to change the social media landscape?

Rick Wion joins Kathi Browne to talk about What’s News in Healthcare Social Media this week. Rick was McDonald’s first Social Media Director and is a wealth of information and experience when it comes to digital marketing. Prior to working as the Director of Social Media at McDonald’s, Rick was VP of Digital and Social Media for GolinHarris where he worked with Fortune 500 companies including several pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson. As an addd guest, Thomas Lee kicks off the discussion by revealing what Symplur signals revealed about the trending hashtag related to ebola.

Here’s the recorded conversation.


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Managing a Pubic Relations Crisis with Social Grace

You may never expect to be caught in a public relations crisis, but then no one ever does. HOWEVER, at some point you are likely going to have to manage some healthcare PR crisis such as an impaired physician, a dumpster disaster, or other unforeseen event. Social communication should be a part of any PR crisis management, whether social media activity is seen as the cause OR considered as part of the solution.

In many cases, this topic comes up as an excuse for healthcare marketers not to get involved with social media in the first place. Whether you’re afraid that social media will spark a crisis or simply add to it, there is power in being proactive. I’ve read a lot of articles giving advice on how to prevent and/or approach a PR crisis, but I haven’t found one that I really bought into. That’s why I decided to give my own advice for my audience to consider.

There are two components of healthcare public relations crisis management (or any industry crisis management, for that matter): Preparation and Planning.

Prepare for a Public Relations Crisis Ahead of Time

If you wait until a crisis happens to summon the “social media Gods” then shame on you. Social presence is not a short-term commitment. You have to build your reputation and relationships ahead of time. You have to have a command of the platforms where you choose to exist, and you have to recognize that not all problems can be solved through social media. Sometimes pen and paper or a good old telephone works best.

1. Identify your fans ahead of time.

If you have a good social presence and interact regularly, you’re bound to have fans who say good things about you. Identify them and keep that list handy. If you don’t have a list of people you can count on to come to your aid, then start getting more social and interactive. You may need those core supporters to come to your defense sometime in the future.

2. Have examples of acceptable responses already crafted so you aren’t starting from scratch during a crisis.

You can’t possibly know what crisis might happen in the future, but you can have a starting point ready to save time when one does take place. Having discussions about what to say and why is important in crafting a proper message when it matters most. How would you respond to someone finding medical records in a dumpster outside your hospital? Would that response come from the top or from legal? How would you deliver the message — on your website or in front of a microphone? What would influence these decisions?

3. Stay informed about social platforms and sponsored/paid communication options.

You may be very well-versed in how to use Google+ or WordPress, because you use it in your everyday digital strategy, but what happens if negative chatter shows up on Facebook or Twitter? If you don’t know how Facebook Ads work or that Promoted Tweets ability even exists, how are you going to utilize them in a crisis?

4. Set up notifications to monitor what is being said about you and your leaders/physicians

There are a number of monitoring tools; some are free while others are not (Google Alerts, Mentions, HootSuite tools, etc.) My suggestions is not to rely entirely on someone else to monitor your reputation. They don’t have skin in the game like you do.

5. Practice response with your crisis team.

You don’t have to do a full-out drill, but periodically run through what should happen during a crisis so your team doesn’t panic looking for a checklist when it’s not a drill. Spend time reviewing:

Who makes the calls?
Who makes up the crisis response team?
What happens first?
What should take place (chain of command, time tables, verbage, monitoring, assessment, etc.)?
What are your goals and priorities (to protect the brand, to minimize legal risk, etc.)?

6. Keep the phone operator in the know.

Communicate who calls should be directed to, in case of a potential crisis.

Plan How to Respond During the Public Relations Crisis

Once a crisis hits, you don’t have the luxury of time. Having a well-thought-out plan is important, even if it’s a starting point. Your plan should include a list of steps with discussion topics, cautions, and things to consider. For example:

1. Assess the situation (what’s the real crisis?).

Assess the threat and identify what is the actual crisis or risk. Separating ego from brand damage will prevent you from spending time responding to something that isn’t really a crisis, or worse … creating a crisis that didn’t exist.

2. Anticipate what could happen next.

Play “what if” so you can anticipate just how bad it could get. Did Emory University Hospital anticipate public panic? Probably, but did John Hopkins consider the physician’s suicide as a possible domino? Some things you just can’t predict, but being prepared where you can will pay off.

3. Respond where and when you will be effective.

Don’t spread the “virus” by infecting new mediums not yet infected. Address the crisis where it is happening and consider where that audience might turn next. There are times when silence is smart, as was the case with Boston Childrens Hospital during the anonymous threat.

4. Communicate resolution.

When you have the crisis under control, let the public know. Use promotional tools (like Facebook Ads, Promotional Tweets, and Google AdWords) to let the public know it’s resolved in a very visible way. Don’t forget to include link with more information. If your crisis birthed a hashtag along the way, include it so your posts show up along side the negative ones.

Crisis planning is not only smart, it’s empowering. Having a plan like the one above puts you in the driver’s seat and it also positions your marketing team to participate in social media with confidence.

Have tips of your own? Share them in the comment section!

PR Crisis Management with Creative Social Media

This discussion between David Harlow and Kathi Browne focused on PR crisis management. The recent Ebola scare and subsequent medical response have called for a creative response to public fears. Are you confident you would know what to do in a PR crisis? There are several good articles addressing how to prepare in advance for a PR crisis and how to use social media in your plan.


Related Articles:

3 Important Takeaways from Emory Uni Hospital’s Ebola Controversy

How to create a crisis plan in less than 30 minutes

8 Tips for Effective Crisis Planning

Promoted tweets: 4 tips for deploying them in a PR crisis

Social Media Networks are a Powerful Tool for Healthcare Communications