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Posted on 10.18.2012

Healthcare Marketers Can Finally Demonstrate ROI to Physicians

I've said it for more than 25 years: good communications is at the root of all successful businesses, relationships and educational experiences. Now, communications will have a financial pay-off for physicians who effectively teach their patients how to manage their health and adhere to their treatment plans.

In the past, physicians were encouraged to talk with their patients so the patients could understand their diagnoses and treatments and have a "warm and fuzzy" feeling about the doctor's bedside manner. Until recently, there was no promise of financial reward for the physician; in fact, there was a disincentive for physicians to take the time to "over communicate" with patients because reimbursement has been based on the number of patients he/she can see during a day. And, partly because many patients DON'T understand or follow "doctor's orders," there are plenty of sick people in a doctor's waiting room who come back over and over with the same ailment. That makes it even harder for physicians to spend extra time with each patient.

In today's healthcare environment, both hospitals and caregivers will be financially dinged for readmissions and "repeat customers," so it's imperative that providers focus on keeping their patients well and out of a revolving door of episodic care.

I recently read a piece in Forbes about the numbers of smart doctors using social media (especially videotapes posted to You Tube) to give instructions or explanations about some of the most common illnesses they treat. Sure, every patient is unique, but many procedures or instructions are common and can be very well explained via video. Think: teaching a young mother how to take an infant's temperature, how to accurately dose Tylenol, how to read the growth chart you gave her at the last well-baby visit.

Certainly there is a lot of general healthcare information online - some good, some questionable. But a simple video of instructions and advice from a patient's caregiver has great credibility and enhances the physician-patient relationship in a meaningful way. With clear instructions (that can be repeated over and over) the patient is more likely to comply with "doctor's orders," reducing the likelihood of ending up back in the clinic or the hospital, and the physician is rewarded for patient wellness.

Why don't more primary and specialty physicians communicate via video? They are swamped with patients; they haven't had the time or interest to learn the technology; they are uncomfortable on camera. Healthcare marketers can help and finally show a direct ROI in the relatively short term.

Is anyone helping a physician get more "social" and user-friendly? Are you finding physicians more open to this concept?

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