How should physicians, practices, and healthcare facilities be communicating with the public? What about interactions with med tech and pharma reps? This episode is a deep dive into the nuances of keeping communicating open when facilities may or may not be closed. Scott, Michael, and Jared discuss the workflow for treating patients safely and the communication of that workflow in enough detail to be effective.
Engage With Us
How to listen: shows.pippa.io/paradigm-shift-of-healthcare/howto
Archive of previous episodes: https://www.p3practicemarketing.com/paradigm-shift-of-healthcare/
Follow on Twitter: twitter.com/p3inbound
Announcer: It’s time to think differently about healthcare, but how do we keep up? The days of yesterday’s medicine are long gone, and we’re left trying to figure out where to go from here. With all the talk about politics and technology, it can be easy to forget that healthcare is still all about humans, and many of those humans have unbelievable stories to tell.
Here, we leave the policy debates to the other guys and focus instead on the people and ideas that are changing the way we address our health. It’s time to navigate the new landscape of healthcare together and hear some amazing stories along the way. Ready for a breath of fresh air? It’s time for your “Paradigm Shift.”
Michael: Welcome to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare” and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts with my co-hosts, Jared Johnson and Scott Zeitzer. So we’ve talked a bit about how physicians, practices, and healthcare facilities are communicating with the public and how they should be communicating with the public in previous episodes. Today, we’re gonna really dig into the specifics of it because I wanna get really tactical with some of the advice that we have been giving and I hope this will be really helpful for healthcare organizations.
So Scott, as we were planning the episode, you made the point that the practice’s approach really does depend on the physician that’s kind of steering the ship, that’s leading the way there, and that the communication tactics should follow that physician’s approach. So let’s talk a little bit more about what that actually looks like.
Scott: Thank you, Michael. I really do think it is. I’ve been talking to a lot of surgeons, hospital professionals, ambulatory surgical people. There has been an overarching belief that essentially the captain of the ship will ultimately be the healthcare provider, whether that’s the surgeon for a particular surgery or practice, a medical provider, etc., that’s gonna make the decision about, how do I protect my patients? They are going to figure out ultimately, the workflow for treating patients safely.
There’ll be a lot of people who will help guide that. If you’re at a hospital, obviously, they’ve paid a lot of very smart people to run that hospital, but they’re gonna be relying upon doctors to help fashion that. If you’re in a practice for one person, hey, it really is the captain of the ship, the doctor. The follow-up after that, after that “Do No Harm” and, “How do I take care of patients?” will be how do we communicate this workflow in enough detail so that we can make sure everybody’s on the same page? That will be critical as well.
Jared: Yes, Scott, I really think as we dive into the communication part especially that there’s so much that matters there. And that’s usually where you run into questions about the particular tactics, right. So we’ve talked previously about, you know, updating the website, making sure that patients see the information and that it’s really clear and obvious no matter where you’re coming from on what device or whatever on your website, right. But that said, there are so many other places where patients can come across your information, and we have to make sure that all of those different pieces say the same thing.
And that used to be a lot simpler process and I think that’s something that a lot of us are finding out during these unprecedented times, right, because of the speed at which and the frequency of which things have to be updated. And so at the very beginning, even just understanding, like, having an audit of here are all the places that people find information, that patients, that referring providers, that general public, that prospective patients, anyone who’s coming to find anything about us, here are all the places that they can find that information.
And we used to think of it as pretty simple, like, “Hey, it’s just the website. And then we’re like, “Hey, it’s just the website, and social media is going on, but all that’s doing is pointing people to the website.” And we know it’s so much more complicated these days. And there’s a reason for that. It’s because people are looking for it in so many different ways, right? So there are those who are going to benefit from a video that very clearly shows the provider, not even just telling how, “Here are the extra precautions we’re taking now. And here’s how we’re staying safe, you know, come on, back to the office,” kind of a thing. It’s one thing to say that, it’s another thing to show it.
And I think even just starting to realize that there’s this pent up feeling that we don’t know what to do, we know there’s this thing that we probably need to have done, but we don’t know what to do about it, and we don’t know when to come in. And we just don’t feel safe at all and especially in different regions of the country where the virus has just taken its toll in different ways. That’s why this is hard to have just a one-size-fits-all type of remedy to it because it really depends on what the perception is in your community. And that is definitely what we are seeing. Michael and Scott, you’ve both seen those types of things as you’ve talked with those at different practices. That it varies by location and region.
And so even just recognizing the fact like, here’s your starting point, right. The starting point is, make sure you are aware of all the different places that people can find information about the practice. Let’s start there, right. That can be even things like search engine updates and things. I think, Michael, you’ve seen a lot of things like that haven’t you?
Michael: There’s some interesting stuff that’s happening right now with the local listings especially. So, you know, think about when you go to look up your healthcare provider. And sometimes that map pops up, or sometimes just that information, you know, that knowledge graph information, to use all the SEO geekery, all that pops up on the right side of the desktop results. Google is starting to get more aggressive about trying to surface relevant information for patients in particular. So there’s actually an update, a core algorithm update happening, like, right now as we speak in search engines with Google in particular. So Google is making all these changes and one of the things that they’ve really been trying to surface is, “Do you have a page about your COVID response, and do you have a page for where patients can go to get virtual care?” Is the way that they’re labeling it, but what’s the telehealth solution that you have at your practice?
And we’re seeing that pop up most on mobile devices. So Google’s gone out there and it’s asking practices asking healthcare organizations, not just orthopedic practices, what is your COVID response and what are your telehealth solutions? And right now, as of yesterday, you know, we were at the very beginning of May, you’re seeing these results starting to pop up on mobile devices, but I would really expect to see this information moving over to desktop very soon.
So the one thing that I would definitely advise people from a very tactical perspective, you know, after you understand how patients can see your information, start looking into how you’re showing up in each of those locations. Do you like what you see? Is the information correct? Because when we went through, you know, we help several practices manage their listings. And so one of the things that we noticed was that Google is doing some work to auto-populate some of that information.
And sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re not, you know, if the word COVID shows up on that page anywhere, it’s like, “Well, that’s the official page.” It’s like, “Okay, maybe and maybe not.” So I definitely recommend please, go take a look, and especially if you’re a multi-location facility, definitely take a look at all of those listings. But Google is trying to do right here. They’re trying to help patients. Make sure that they’re helping patients in the right way for your practice.
Scott: Yeah, couldn’t agree more, Michael. Jared, you brought up some really good information about whether you use video, social media, the website itself, and all three of those things can be helpful. Remember, there’s a new norm, and new habits need to be created. It’s not our habit to walk out the door with a mask on. It’s not our habit to think about how close I am to somebody else in the waiting room, etc. And Jared, you mentioned it, everybody’s a little nervous about it. And so anything that the practice can do to be more specific, and get it onto the website, the Facebook page, if they’re managing one, if you’ve got video, hey, that’s just another way to make everybody feel more comfortable because you’re setting good expectations.
And Michael, the information about COVID-19 and Google trying to help, if everyone out there is listening and you have a website, whether you’re a large hospital organization, or a mom and pop practice, go look yourself up and see what’s happening. Take a look at that first page when you type in your own practice name, or your own name, and see what comes up and make sure you like what they’re saying. But when it comes to the COVID stuff, I think Google is doing a great job of trying. I’m not sure…to Michael’s point, they could be messing up a little bit. And they’re very good at adapting if you let them know. If you don’t let them know, they’re just gonna assume they got it right and move on to the next. And I think that’s a really strong takeaway, have a core set of things that you wanna communicate, use every way possible to update it. And then I’m gonna give you another hint too. Have that conversation with yourself or with your group at least once a month. It’s gonna keep changing.
Michael: Yeah, that’s a great point. One of the other things about Google’s listings, in particular, is I know that, like a lot of other places, you know, around the world, Google has had to do some reduced staffing or is stretched thin in some ways. So if you’re not seeing results, if you’re trying to reach out to Google and trying to get interaction with somebody, it’s gonna be harder right now because they are lower staffed at the moment. So anything that you can do to like, manage that listing yourself, that’s where we’re finding the most success, is not trying to get in touch with somebody because it’s always hard. At any of these mega-companies, it’s always hard to get a human on the other end to respond but especially right now, so just be aware of that as you’re kind of digging into that process.
The other thing I will say is that, you know, Bing is doing what it can also to help out get some information out there. I saw something this morning about Yelp providing more opportunities just for businesses, in general, to talk about their virtual solutions. So I’m sure that extends to healthcare as well. And so do take a look at all of your listing sites, anything where you have information out there, are you getting the right links? Are you providing the right opportunities for people?
Scott: I really do think that it is critical that you follow-up on this information. It’s not just about, “Calming people down.” It’s not just about maybe even getting more patients more quickly. If you think about it, it’s almost a marketing thing. You can see what a lot of marketing companies are doing right now to say, “Hey, you should use us because…” It’s also about workflow if everybody understands the expectations, and your patients are not asking questions all day. Remember, a lot of these practices are a little understaffed and a little bit on edge. So having people really understand what to expect, you know, “Hey, I think I do need to wear a mask when I come to visit.”
I had some practices where the climate is okay for this where they’re actually sitting in their car and being told when to come in because the waiting rooms were not designed for a COVID environment. So the exam rooms are full, the waiting room is COVID-full…if that’s gonna become the new normal name, and so you’re sitting in your car waiting to come in. If that’s part of your process, that’s fine as long as you set an expectation. If you don’t set an expectation, they’re gonna be irritated.
Michael: Yeah. And that’s an interesting way to kind of segue into another, you know, point of view. Like so far we’ve been talking about the healthcare professional, the person that’s at the practice or out of the hospital, kind of managing the ship. You have other stakeholders, right? There’s the patient who is a stakeholder in this situation.
And so, you know, to kind of give a little more than just, you know, advice on this, like, this week, we’re recording on a Tuesday right now, on Sunday afternoon, I had the chance to go experience the healthcare environment myself. And so going in and understanding like, “Hey, here are the processes that you have to follow.” When we got to the door, we had the temperature scans, we had all the signage up there to tell us what to do each step of the way. And so we were directed immediately to the ER, where we had to go, and nobody was in the ER except for the administrative staff, which is exactly what you’re hoping for. And we were brought back to see somebody very, very soon.
But think through that process in terms of looking at it from, again, from the professional, the healthcare professional standpoint. When I entered the facility, and even before I got into the facility, there were clear signs telling me each step of the way, do this, now do this, now do this. That workflow is very clear and very established all the way through. That has to extend beyond just the facility. And I think that’s a lot of what we’ve been saying so far. Make sure that digitally, you’re saying the same thing as you are in person.
And then to flip, that from the patient’s perspective, if you’re not seeing that, that’s a real cause for concern. This is not the time for, “Ah, it’ll be fine.” That’s not the attitude to take in any of this. And if your physician, if your healthcare facility, if these groups aren’t doing that everything that they can, it’s grounds enough to start thinking about what are my other options? And that’s not always easy for everybody. And it’s not as easy as just going to the next office down the street or something. But it’s that serious is our big point on this, that your safety is paramount in this time.
Scott: You know, Michael, it’s interesting, we talked about “from the practices’ perspective” and we talked about “from the patient’s perspective” and all these things, set those expectations. And if you’re not seeing the expectations that you think are appropriate, you’re right, you may need to go see somebody else. And the other group of people that we interact with quite a bit are the medtech and pharma industries out there. We do quite a bit of work with both of them. And we’ve had some really interesting conversations about how these kinds of companies can help, best help, physicians and ultimately their end users, patients.
On LinkedIn where I spend, unfortunately, I think, way too much time, thank you, folks at LinkedIn, there’s a lot of conversation going on about sales reps in the pharma and medical device industry and whether they should be anywhere near an office, whether they should be anywhere near a hospital and or operating room. And guys, it’s not some sort of evil thing, sales reps in a hospital or OR, can be quite helpful in terms of arranging for when equipment needs to go in and when equipment needs to go out.
Advising a nurse who may be better trained on say, I’ll just make something up, obstetrics rather than orthopedics or vice versa. And reminding them about which trays need to be sterilized and which boxes need to be nearby a lot of mundane stuff that’s very critically important. And so the medical devices and pharma companies need to start deciding, “How best can we help? And how best can we help all of our physician customers and users, you know, those patients?”
There’s a lot of conversation occurring on that end. And it goes back to, I think it really does, these critical components of, how do we all best, as a community, protect the patient? Whether it’s the patient protecting themselves, whether it’s the doctor protecting the patient, the hospital protecting the patient, ambulatory surgical center, and yes, the drug, pharma, medical device company, all protecting the patient, I think that’s the win here. And then when you figure out how best to protect the patient and then set good expectations and communicate well, I think that’s when everybody will feel a lot more comfortable.
Michael: Absolutely. Jared, I know that when we were kind of talking about planning for this episode and leading up to this episode, one of the things that really caught my attention over the past week in social media was the fact that you’d participated in another webinar and some of the responses that were coming out, particularly in terms of hospitals, healthcare organizations, trying to set a strategy during this time period. We’re talking very tactically, but thinking beyond that, you know, what does strategy look like for healthcare organizations? Can you give us a little bit of insight into some of the conversations you were having about that?
Jared: You bet. We were focusing at first on the tactic of video and what its place will be in this post-pandemic world, as far as marketing strategy goes. And we started going down this road, and I realized, you know, we’ve been focused so much on the channel itself and understanding how to make videos, right, instead of focusing on the story of what that means. And kind of going back to where we were talking about, initially, about the workflow and communicating to all the audiences and all of the different properties that a practice might have out there or a medtech company will have out there as well, everyone…we’d wanna focus on the same part of this, which is, “Show, don’t tell,” right?
And there’s such a difference, there’s such an opportunity. We just have to start by realizing, like, what does the consumer feel? Like, where are they coming from? And then it becomes a lot easier to realize what type of message we need to send out there. But it’s too easy to just have this checkbox mentality, right, of…okay, yeah, we did a video, check. You know, like, we put something out there that says, “See, you can trust us.” I think we were talking about all the CEO emails that we’ve all gotten that are filling up our inbox over the last couple of months. CEOs of brands that I’ve never cared about that they have never engaged with me, every hotel chain I’ve ever stayed at, I mean, everywhere I’ve ever bought anything, apparently, they’re letting me know they’re here for me.
And that’s why I was coming up on this webinar. I was like, okay, there are real opportunities to show that you are there for somebody not just to say it, “Hey, we’re here for you.” Because that’s what everyone’s telling me my insurance companies telling me that everyone’s here for me, and I’m like, “What are you here to do for me?” I mean, yeah, that’s where we’re going with it. And I think the opportunities are there, like, that’s where we’ve got to start thinking about this. That makes it a lot more manageable and that’s what really drives our strategy, whichever side of this we’re on, from the medtech or the pharma side or the practice side, that’s what should drive our strategy.
Scott: Yeah, it’s funny that you mentioned that, Jared. I thought of two things. One was one of the initial conversations I had with a surgeon who basically…when I said “You need to have good COVID information up there,” and he, and he said, “Well, we follow the CDC guidelines.” And I said, “Well, what does that mean for a patient? Nothing.” I mean, it means nothing. “We’re here for you,” means nothing right now. I got that initially from, one of the hotel chains that I stay at a lot, and I kind of, like, smirked and deleted it. Now, that same hotel chain came back with a series of specific steps that they were gonna take for every room. Everything from, “You don’t even have to talk to the front desk,” to, “We’re gonna put a piece of tape up,” I believe a sticker, “that says, ‘Your room has been cleaned and no one has entered this room.’” Okay, cool. Now, that’s making me feel better.
So everybody who’s thinking this through like whether you are in a practice, a hospital, or part of a medtech company, put yourself in the patient’s shoes, and walk through that. Michael, you had to deal with it the other night, I’m glad everybody’s feeling better. But that being said, hey, every step from the moment you get in your car, what’s happening, man? You know, and so if you walk through that…it’s one of the pieces of advice, Michael and I, you know, we give to all of our customers, when we’re talking. Like, I always tell my new customers, “When you call your office, don’t call the backline, that one’s for you, and you’re special.” They’re gonna pick up the phone immediately. Call the main number. Are you comfortable with that experience? And if you are, that’s great. And if you’re irritated, well, maybe something needs to be changed.
With COVID, everybody’s on edge. Nobody wants to get it. I don’t care, you know, where in the country you are. And I get it, in some areas of the country, like if you’re in New York City, I definitely think you’re a little bit more concerned than if you are in a place where there’s not a lot of COVID, but still nobody wants to get it. So what are you doing to protect me? And don’t say, “I’m following CDC guidelines.” No, really, specifics will matter.
Michael: You know, the funny thing is because we’ve been in the hospital some, we’ve been watching more television than we certainly normally do. And so every commercial that’s coming on right now is, “We’re here for you.” Let me tell you about how, you know, this can of paint is going to, like, completely transform your life during this COVID time. Like, no, you can’t go off that messaging, that’s not allowed, that you don’t get to earn that spot. And so there’s definitely the room for overplaying it. But I do think that everybody is trying to get to that concept of like, “Here, these are the specifics.” And if it’s couched in too much, you know, “We’re here for you. And we’ve always been here for you,” like, okay, maybe not. But getting to the specifics of it, like, “Here are the steps that we’re taking.”
You know, one of the things that Jared, I saw in response to the webinar that you were a part of was, hey, strategy as a long-term plan is kind of out the window right now. Like really, this thing that we’re talking about communicating clearly, really focusing on the patient, like, this is the strategy. And it’s an evolving strategy and it’s gonna have to change necessarily month by month. You know, we’re in the beginning of May, right now, when we’re recording this, some states have opened back up, other states are thinking about opening up soon. Things are going to be changing rapidly in terms of how this disease affects everybody. And so there isn’t a long-term plan that just says like, okay, everything will now turn to whatever normal we think we might have. So there’s definitely a lot of room for evolving as we go here.
So, guys, we’ve covered a lot of specifics here. And I really appreciate everybody’s perspective on this. And I think that the one takeaway really is, communicate. Communicate the specifics, don’t worry about trying to couch it in too much sentimentality, or trying to couch it in too many other ways to try to prove your point of how you’re relevant, why you’re relevant. Just communicate with folks because that’s the thing that we need the most right now. I know that people are definitely hungry for that kind of information. Guys, thanks so much for our conversation today and thank you for listening to the show and be well.
Scott: Stay safe.
Announcer: Thanks again for tuning in to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare.” This program is brought to you by P3 Inbound, marketing for ortho, spine, and neuro practices. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.