Great post by Babylon Mediaworks about hackers' clever tactics in cafes -- and, it turns out, one of the ways is by leaving thumb drives behind that are loaded with malicious software! (The idea is to tempt curious users who see an opportunity to snag a free drive.) If you use a practice device in a cafe -- not something we necessarily recommend :) -- the post offers some valuable tips for keeping your computer safe, including never sticking an unknown thumb drive into your computer, and being wary of open hotspots that aren't affiliated with the cafe. Read all the tips here.
Since I started my career in the publishing world, Marketo's post today about their "Facebook Editorial Calendar" caught my eye. While the idea of calling Facebook posts "editorial" is perhaps a tad grandiose, the concept they're describing is really helpful for the idea-challenged social media maven. Their basic idea is to assign a post type for each day of the week -- famous quotes on Monday, statistics/infographics on Tuesdays and Thursdays, etc. A medical practice using Facebook could adapt this idea -- say, copy the motivational quote idea on Monday, have a nutrition tip on Tuesday, explore or debunk a news item on Wednesday, have a link to a helpful site on Thursday, etc. Have you experimented with the idea of organizing your posts into assigned daily categories like this? We'd love to hear about it! Here's a link to Marketo's idea.
As medical practice management consultants, we're naturally always looking for 'best practices' we can share with all of our clients. There is often a rub, though: what's 'best' for one practice (or one practice type) may not be right for everyone. When it comes to the best way to solve practice management problems, sometimes the only correct answer, as economists like to say, is 'it depends.' No-shows -- how to deal with them, how to minimize them -- are a great example of this sort of problem. I've been participating in a lively discussion on the subject on LinkedIn in the medical office managers group. The discussion was kicked off via a link to an article that seemed to have the definitive list of to-dos (and not-to-dos) to maximize show-rate -- except that the comments from participants in the group suggested it wasn't so simple. Example: "don't use postcards as reminders -- they're a waste of money and don't improve show rates." But, the data cited in the article pertained only to a residency-based family practice, and the study didn't provide any information about the wording of the reminders. But, other studies that weren't restricted to academic family practices showed otherwise, although the relative benefits of postcards versus other reminder methods were less clear. And other data show that multiple reminder types used together -- a combination of postal and SMS text, for example -- might deliver still better results. Given the lack of clear data on an issue like no-shows, you may need to try different approaches and aim to continuously improve your practice's performance. The answer to the problem of the right mix of reminders for your practice is likely to be "it depends" ... but, on what? The good news is, you can think through some of the possible factors that will influence reminder success pretty readily, since you already know a lot about your patient base. For example, you know something about the age of your patients. A practice with mostly older patients -- say, cardiology -- might find that postcards are still among the best
Today's Harvard Business Review tip on interviewing prospective employees is really useful. How do you know if the candidate really has the skills he/she claims to have? Drill down with 'how' and 'why' questions. For example, if a practice management candidate claims to have implemented internal controls, drilling down for examples can give you a better idea of how well she really understands them. Or, if a biller states that he chose a new PMS for his current practice, ask about the details of making that selection. Read the HBR tip here.
A staffer’s increased prosperity might be coming at your expense. Sudden and unexplained personal spending on the part of a staffer can be a warning sign that embezzlement may be taking place, but there’s another and sometimes even more damaging explanation that you should be concerned about – employee patient data theft. The theft of confidential and legally-protected patient data is on the rise and is already extremely widespread – millions of patient records have been compromised and the costs to the associated practices are many millions of dollars. Some schemes involve employees selling records as "leads" to unethical lawyers or others. Your controls over patient data are as important as your practice’s financial controls. Every practice should have well-defined policies with respect to accessing patient data - e.g., inappropriate accessing of patient data is grounds for dismissal. Practice administrators and physicians should periodically audit how many (and which) patient records employees access – ask your software vendors on how best to generate the necessary reports. Any device that can be stolen, accessed remotely or have data copied from it is a potential vulnerability. I recommend every practice conduct a thorough assessment of the risk of patient data theft every year.
I used to do a lot of work on airplanes. But, that was back in the olden days when I flew for work internationally -- I had elite status and so almost never flew coach. It's a lot easier to get something done when you can actually fit your laptop on the tray-table in front of you (pretty difficult in coach these days -- especially if the person in front of you tilts back even a little). Besides the shrinking seat-space problem, Bloomberg Business Week adds a few medical reasons to skip cracking open the laptop: you're headache-y, you're forgetful, your heart's working harder, etc. (I'm still confused about why they seem to assume most people have hangovers, however.) But, they left out one reason that I think might trump them all: no privacy. Recently, I was on a flight and the person in the row in front/across from me opened up her laptop, clicked onto the plane's WI-FI, and began working in her practice's Practice Fusion EMR. (Yes, I could clearly see it was Practice Fusion.) Potential privacy violation? I wondered how many records the people directly next to her could see -- and what a morally challenged individual might do if she left her computer open while in the bathroom line. You really never know who you're sitting next to on a flying bus, after all.
Given the maze that is healthcare today, it makes sense that navigators to help patients understand the path to care would be a wonderful way to improve outcomes -- especially for the critically ill and under-insured. Research from Accenture shows they also improve the bottom line. Read the post on the Harvard Business Review blog.
Regarding my post of a few days ago about the marketing webinar Judy and I did for Kareo -- apparently a technical glitch has prevented Kareo from posting it. They're working on it and hope to have it up within a week. If you want to access it via an alternative source (gotomeeting's archive -- requires registration), send a message to our "info" email and I'll send you the details.
Branded thumb drives: isn't it great when you get one at a conference? They're so handy to have around! But, that handiness also makes them a risk for your practice. Even having a policy against downloading patient records to an external drive may not be enough to make thumb drives worth the risk: as this story from the Salt Lake Tribune illustrates, just having a policy isn't enough if people aren't aware of it (or choose to ignore it). Although the employee in the story -- who downloaded 6,000 patient records to a thumb drive, and then lost it somewhere en route between UT, CO and DC -- was fired, the missing records could still be found by someone with less-than-honest intentions. And, the woman's employer, a Medicaid claims processor, did have a policy against downloading patient records -- the "star employee" just didn't know about it. Of course, while this fired downloader seems to have had purely innocent intentions, the story also illuminates how easy it would be to download thousands of records onto a drive and slip it into a pocket -- and later sell those records to criminals. Some estimates put the value of patient medical identity data at $50/patient or more on the black market. That's why you probably won't see a Capko & Company branded thumb drive as a gift any time soon. Even though they're irresistible!
Just published a new long-form piece in PracticeLink magazine -- it includes so many great ideas contributed physicians and marketers from a wide variety of specialties (e.g., OB/GYN, rheumatology, radiology, urology, and more). Really creative ideas like forming your own networking group, using charitable work to expand your business, and bolstering your confidence about thinking outside the box. Real solutions from the trenches! Check it out at magazine.practicelink.com.