Learn How To Create A Budget For Your Medical Practice

In medicine, the mention of the word profit is often viewed or interpreted as a dirty word. It is as if the word does not belong in the lexicon when health care is addressed.
 Broke doctor
I argue (in the context of the private medical practice setting) that profitability is a medical practice’s responsibility for one simple reason. If the medical practice (also known as a business) doesn’t deliver profits, health care providers are unable to provide for those in need.

Why Profits?

Profits pay for infrastructure, technology, education and human resources, all of which translate to superior pediatric care when employed correctly.
Another way I like to put it is by saying,

 

…a broke doctor does do anybody any good.

 

Calling vs Profits

Indeed, our medical businesses differ from other companies in that we care for children. And the notion of withholding medical services or restricting access to a sick child merely by the patient’s parents inability to pay for health care services is simply not in a pediatrician’s DNA.
However, it is important to accept the reality that without a way for a doctor or the practice’s income to outpace expenses, health care providers are unable to provide services of any kind. At least not for the long term.

Is there a solution?

How do we reconcile these two competing issues? On one hand, it is necessary for a medical practice to deliver profits if it wants to remain sustainable. On the other, we have an intrinsic motivation to put the patient’s needs first.
I am glad you asked.
These two dichotomies can co-exist – and even flourish – alongside each other. There is indeed numerous tools and principles rooted in business that can help medical practices manage what otherwise appears to be opposing forces.

A Resource You Don’t Want to Miss

Today, I want to tell you about a resource I’ve been working on to help your office obtain financial success, while simultaneously providing unsurpassed pediatric care to your patients.

To help you succeed in your financial success, I’ve written a comprehensive eBook on budgeting that walks you through the process of creating a budget for your medical practice. The materials also cover basic principles necessary to put the exercise into perspective.

Budgeting is a major component of financial success. Moreover, financial success is essential to the continuity of care.

To read more about this offering, click on the image below.

Medical Practice Budgeting
Click on the image

I do hope that you buy the book, but more important, that you find the eBook helpful, useful and valuable.

How Well Do Parents Know What You Do As a Pediatrician?

It’s hard to appreciate the value that pediatricians provide when one is not aware of exactly what it is that pediatricians do.

During the summer months, I posted on our practice’s Facebook page, a note encouraging parents, to schedule their children’s wellness visits.

Although the message was for our entire Facebook community, I wanted to catch the eye of parents with teenagers. Don’t know how well you manage teens in your office, but in our office, we have decent wellness visit numbers with younger patients. The teen population?

Not so much. Once the teen years kick in, we mostly see them when they are sick.Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 11.48.51 AM

I wanted to encourage parents to make their wellness visits but also throw in a subtle nudge to parents with teens.To get their attention, I opened with this line: Did you know pediatricians are trained to treat children from birth to adolescence? Then I went on to talk about the importance of wellness visits etc.

Something interesting happened. The post outperformed other Facebook post. It received more likes that than the ordinary. But that the surprise me. What surprised me the most, were the comments from parents.

One mom said, “it’s good to know the pediatrician can see my teen.”

Another said, ” Timothy is going to be so happy when I tell him Dr. B can still see him.”

WHAT WAS THE LESSON?

It’s an age-old lesson. It’s a lesson on assumptions and what happens when we make them.

That simple, otherwise ordinary status update, got me thinking about how well (or not) we communicate what it is that we do as pediatricians. If so many people weren’t aware that pediatricians can treat teens and beyond (0-21), what else don’t they know? The irony is that our website is tagged with the line “Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.”

OPPORTUNITY

We clearly have a communication problem. And I would argue that our lack of proper communication about what it is we do as pediatricians (more than runny noses and giving shots) is why many parents don’t see the distinction between a retail clinic and a pediatrician.


 

It’s hard to appreciate the value that pediatricians provide when one is not aware of exactly what it is that pediatricians do.

 


 

The good news is that there is a significant opportunity for pediatricians to cover a lot of ground. How so? By using social media channels to educate our community about all the great services we are trained to provide.

I also believe that leveraging this opportunity could aid your practice in differentiating itself from the competition.

WHAT IS YOUR COMMUNICATION STRATEGY?

Since I realized there was a chasm between our assumptions and the reality, I’ve been intentional about informing our community about the training, knowledge and expertise our pediatricians can address.

Some of it may seem too obvious for those of us that do this every day. Like explaining the importance of wellness visits.

But the truth is, some parents don’t know about yearly wellness visits. They assume that because the child no longer needs shots, they don’t need to go to the doctor.

Beyond promoting wellness visits, I use many of the things included in the Bright Futures guidelines as a way to highlight that a visit to the pediatricians is highly comprehensive.

And by educating our population, I’m also marketing our practice in a unique way. Instead of mentioning in a promotional piece that we accept most insurance plans, I may mention that how we can provide family support, safety and injury prevention, or mental health.

MARKETING STRATEGY

Not only is promoting and sharing this information relevant and valuable to parents, but I also think it is an excellent way to differentiate ourselves from the MinuteClinics or other medical services that overlap with pediatrics (i.e. Urgent Centers, Family Practice, Telemedicine).

YOUR CHALLENGE

Think about your medical practice’s communication strategy, or lack thereof. What is your practices unique selling proposition? What problems do you solve that others don’t? Then think about how best to communicate your message. Also, consider the channels you’ll be delivering your message. By channels I mean, traditional advertising, email campaigns, social media, etc.

Remember, each channel is unique, thus requires you to craft the message differently.

I’ll leave you with this… times are changing. That is certain. And we have two options, two paths to choose from. Disagree with how things are changing, or find ways to agree with the shifts in a way that benefits you and your practice.

Let’s Talk About What Happened In Vegas

My friends from the Pediatric Management Institute (PMI) put on another great practice management conference in Las Vegas last January.Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 10.55.37 AM

The content was excellent, thanks to the fabulous faculty PMI brought in.

The topics varied from customer service principles to fundamental changes happening in the health insurance industry and how those changes are – or soon will be – affecting doctors’ financial bottom line.

Below are a few highlights and notable points that resonated with me.

ANCILLARY SERVICES | INCOME DIVERSIFICATION

Dr. Jeanne Marconi presented an account of how her practice diversifies income streams by incorporating ancillary services into her practice.

Admittedly Dr. Marconi’s comprehensive – almost overwhelming – plethora of services (they even offer in-house exercise training programs for children with high BMI) is probably too much for the standard practice to implement.

But for me, her talk wasn’t an invitation to follow her footsteps, but instead, provide insight into what is possible, what can be done and what is available to practices.

Dr. Marconi dished out several challenges to the physicians in the crowd. But the one that resonated with me the most was her call for pediatric practices to challenge the status quo, expand their minds, think creatively (or to use a cliche, think outside the box) and begin to think about ways to diversify practice’s revenue streams.

HOW HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE PAYING DOCTORS

Susanne Madden arrived in Vegas with her extensive knowledge and expertise of the health insurance industry.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.10.10 AM
Dr. Jeanne Marconi and Susanne Madden

She presented attendees the sobering reality of how health insurance companies are adjusting, changing – even experimenting in some cases – with their models to continue delivering value to “their” shareholders. And by value, she means lower cost and higher profits.

Susanne underscored the importance of implementing quality measures such as P4P, HEIDIS, PCMH into our medical practices. But not for the reasons you might think.

While many of these health insurance programs are currently in place as rewards (e.g., enhanced or incentive payments) for medical practices that achieve quality measures thresholds in patient care, Susanne highlighted that these programs will soon become a requirement for practices.

What does this mean exactly? Insurance companies will soon stop offering enhanced payments programs to practices for achieving PCMH level III certification (or other types of incentives). Instead, they will reduce payments to doctors don’t meet PCMH certification.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, she added that many payers are evaluating providers based on how much the provider costs the company in benefits payouts.

How is that different than what they do now?

The difference is that they are not looking at the practice as a whole, but rather evaluating each provider individually.

The implications are that if you have physicians in your practice that don’t adhere to designated quality standards, payors can potentially pay each doctor in the practice different amounts.

HOW MUCH CAN WE AFFORD TO PAY AN EMPLOYED PROVIDER?

PMI’s very own Paul Vanchiere gave two of his hallmark presentations. The first one focused on customer service using the acronym KIDS (Kindness, Integrity, Dignity & Service).

His second talk was my favorite. Why? Because Paul took a complicated, MBA, executive consulting level exercise (determining how much can your practice afford to pay an employed provider) and distilled it into an easy to follow, step-by-step, process, which only requires one to understand a few financial concepts and enter value sets into a spreadsheet.

BROADEN YOUR CODE REPERTUAR

Dr. Rich Lander went over the fundamentals of proper coding. In addition to reviewing the differences between coding Level 2, 3, 4 & 5 for a sick visit, Dr. Lander stressed the importance of documenting “time” correctly in a patient’s chart.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 10.56.21 AM
Joanne Blanchard and Dr. Richard Lander

Dr. Lander shared multiple clinical scenarios that we often encounter with patients. But some of the codes he suggested I wasn’t all too familiar with. I couldn’t recall if we used them.

So I wrote down a reminder to myself to check how well (or not) providers at Salud Pediatrics were using the full scope of codes available.

NO PRESENCE, NO INFLUENCE

Dr. John Moore – a new PMI faculty member – brought us up to speed with some of the new social media trends (Are you familiar with SnapChat and how kids are using it?)

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.10.19 AM
Dr. John Moore and Paul Vanchiere

One of the points that Dr. Moore articulated that I appreciated the most was the importance for pediatricians to embrace social media.

He said something that I’ve been saying for a long time; which is, had pediatricians adopted social media at a faster clip, the pro-vaccine vs. anti-vaccine arguments would have been balanced. Moreover, there was the potential to stifle the anti-vax movement.

CHANGE IS THE NEW STATUS QUO

You can always count on Chip Hart to deliver great wisdom and insight. Chip also gave two talks.Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 10.56.11 AM

I’ve heard Chip speak many times, but this time, I felt his talks were different. Chip’s talks had a subtle, tough-love tone to them.

While addressing the challenges practices are facing today, he stressed that pediatricians have faced similar challenges before. He mentioned that during all previous tectonic shifts (aka industry changes) naysayers shouted out the demise of private practices. Much like many are shouting today.

Chip eloquently argued that not only are the doomsayers wrong, but that pediatricians are actually in a better situation than most think.

Chip wasn’t disregarding the challenges or downplaying the potential threats. We are indeed going through tough times. But these tough times were an opportunity to transform and reinvent our practices, he argued.

My takeaway was: If the plan is to defend the status quo and hedge the long-term success of your business on account that you have the initials MD after your name, thus somehow inoculated from change, the end is certainly near for you.

MEETING, CONNECTING, NETWORKING, SOCIAL LEARNING

Attending a seminar like this to learn from the speakers is certainly worth the price and the time. But more often than not, the icing on the cake, at least for me, is the immeasurable, intangible value I glean from networking.

The people who attend these events are the smartest and brightest in my opinion (and I’m not talking about the faculty, although they are good too).

Whether attendees are veterans in managing practices or opened their first private practices last week and believe they have no clue what they are doing, the truth is, there is opportunity to learn from everybody.

The faculty makes the trip worthwhile. But I would say the attendees make the event special.

Next year I hope to see you there. Especially if you didn’t get a chance to attend this year.

Place: New Orleans
Dates: Jan 27-28th 2017

 

Seven Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Miss This Pediatrics Practice Management Seminar

My friends at the Pediatric Practice Management Institute (PMI) have an awesome seminar that you don’t want to miss.

Why should you not miss it?

Glad you asked.

I have lucky number 7 reasons why you should not miss this seminar.

OAK.0021 – YOU’LL BE AWESOMER

I know awesomer is not a word. But it gets’s the point across. Here is the deal, no matter how experienced you are at managing a practice, there is always something new you can learn.

2 – YOU’LL LEARN NEW IDEAS

Managing a private practice can be a lonely world. There aren’t that many of us. And most of the time we are locked up in a back room (used for both your office and storage) trying to figure out how to keep the ship afloat.

Without exposure to a variety of points of view, you will miss new ideas and trends that can impact future results.

3 – YOU’LL GAIN EXPOSURE

Paul and his team at PMI have put together a superb curriculum. The educational materials will certainly expose you to new ways of managing your business (e.g., private medical practice) and help you discover how to be more productive.

4 – YOU’LL MEET COOL & INTERESTING PEOPLE

Here is the way I see it. The practices that tend to go to practice management seminars are precisely the practices I want to learn from. And PMI’s seminar provides a great opportunity to network with the best practice in the country.

5 – TALK TO CONSULTANTS AND VENDORS

Not only will you have access to a community of like-minded people that have similar struggles, have similar challenges and practical, hands-on advice, suggestions, and solutions, you will also have access to the industries top consultants.

Don’t tell them I said this, but if you ask the right questions, to say… Chip Hart, I bet you, you’ll get thousands of dollars worth of practice management advice for <ahem> free.

Keep in mind that experts in the field are some of the best people for you to get to know if you want to learn more about the current health care business climate as it relates to small, private, independent, pediatric practices.

6 – YOU’LL DISCOVER

You will undoubtedly discover innovative ways to help your practice remain competitive in today’s fast-paced, hectic private-practice.

7 – IT’S VEGAS BABAY (NOT A TYPO)

Did I mention it was in Vegas?

All work and no play can get old fast. PMI’s conference can add a layer of enjoyment to managing your career growth by mixing a social aspect into your learning and industry branding efforts.

Never underestimate the power of a little fun mixed with some interesting people!

BUT THAT IS NOT ALL

Use the promo code “PediInc” and save $75 off your conference fee.

Conference Details:

  • WhenFriday, January 29, 2016 at 2:00 PM –  Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 5:00 PM (PST)
  • WhereTropicana- Las Vegas
  • Sign Up: Click on the Eventbrite logo below to sign up

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pediatric-practice-management-conference-las-vegas-tickets-18689205918?ref=ecount

Don’t forget to use the promo code PediInc to get $75 off

Extra, Extra – Now Offering Coaching Services

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.56.46 PMPeople always ask me if I do practice management consulting.There was a time when I did. But for the past two or so years, I’ve responded by saying no. I enjoy consulting and love to do it, but I had to stop because of the time commitment.

Recently, I was talking with a loyal reader of PediatricInc about this very topic and she suggested I do remote coaching.

My friend, who owns her practice, explained that she doesn’t necessarily need a comprehensive on-site consult. “I just want to ask a question about my practice or run things by someone familiar with practice management,” she said.

She went on to say, “…you know doctors don’t get training on business, management, marketing, collections…. having somebody to reach out to that has the business and practice management training would be valuable.”

“Like a practice management coach?” I asked. And she said, “ yeah, that is a good way to put it.”

We talked a little while longer. By the time we finished up, my loyal reader and friend had convinced me.

Today I’m announcing a new service on PediatricInc called PMB Coaching for those pediatricians and/or managers that want my perspective on practice management, discuss in detail a blog post, run something by me or provide another set of eyes.

Interested in learning about the PMB Coaching?

Click on this link.

 

5 Deceptively Easy Ways to Become an Internet – Savvy, 21st Century Pediatrician

If you are going to be at this year’s AAP National & Exhibition conference in San Diego, come check out a talk I’m giving with Dr. Natasha Burgert. The title of the talk is: 5 Deceptively Easy Ways to Become an Internet – Savvy, 21st century Pediatrician.

We’ve packed the presentation with a lot of information, personal experiences and practical examples that we think are going to be valuable for pediatricians that are looking to remain relevant trusted sources of information in this new, fast-paced, technology driven, mobile phone obsessed culture.

Want a little more? Sure! Here is a glimpse of how we plan to kick off the talk.

Being an internet savvy pediatrician is not just about how to set up a Facebook page or understanding Twitter hashtags. These real-time media channels are certainly important and we will be talking extensively about their utility as a tool, but we will not be telling you the ins and out of how to technically create pages or followings.

Internet savvy pediatricians are intentional in using the web to solve problems, create solutions and improve child health.

This presentation will be about how to leverage the internet and the tools it provides – not only to remain relevant as trusted sources of information – but change pediatrics as we know it today.

Dr. Burgert and I have been working diligently putting together the presentation and we’d be delighted if you stopped by. Oh, and if you are a reader of PediatricInc, come up an introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you.

Session #: S1056
5 Deceptively Easy Ways to Become an Internet – Savvy, 21st Century Pediatrician.

Day: Saturday
Date: 10/11/2014
Time: 8:30 am – 10:00 am

The Benefits of Visiting Practices And Why Partnerships Are Overrated Part Deux [Pediatric Practice Management Awesome Cast]

Chip and I have been traveling. We’ve also been extremely busy at each one of our jobs. So finding the time to schedule the AwesomeCast has been difficult. But we finally found some time to talk about a few things.

In this episode, you’ll hear about a recent trip I made to the East Coast where I visited several practices. The purpose of my trip was to observe and learn. I wanted to observe first hand how these practices functioned. Things like how many staff members they had and each person’s role, explore how practices used their EMR and PM systems to improve work flow, as well as how they’ve incorporated other services into the practice among other things.

I don’t answer these questions in the podcast, but rather discuss with Chip why I thought it was a good idea to make this trip and describe some of the immediate benefits as a result of my tour.

Chip was also curious to know about a blog post I wrote a while back titled: “7 Reasons Why Becoming a Partner at a Medical Practice is Overrated.” This post got a lot of attention when I posted it. I received a lot of feedback, both good and bad. I talk about my thoughts behind the post.

Enyoy

 

For the audio, click below:

Remember that you the podcast is also available in iTunes.

Do Pediatricians Have A Marketing Problem? [Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast]

WorkingTogetherToday, Chip and install about pediatricians’ marketing problem. We dive in and discuss how pediatricians have not done a good job of distinguishing themselves from the competition. And when we say competition, we don’t mean other pediatricians, but rather retail based clinics and large hospital networks.

The result of our poor efforts in differentiating ourselves? Parents don’t really understand the value that comes from visiting the pediatrician’s office rather than a retail based clinic. So in many parents’ mind, going to retail based clinic is the same intern of quality of care as visiting the doctors office, but faster and cheaper.

We also talk about what each of us thinks peds could do to begin fixing this problem.

We hope you enjoy the Awesome cast, and if you do, make sure to tell your friends about it.

For the audio version, click below:

iTunes link

Q/A With Dr. Kristen Stuppy: Mother, Wife, Practicing Pediatrician, and Social Media Maven

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.46.47 AMLast year, Dr. Kristen Stuppy and I had an opportunity to do a webinar together for the AAP about social media.

While preparing for the webinar and deciding on the content we were going to address, Dr. Stuppy and I exchanged several emails. Below, I’ve compiled our email and phone conversation along with the questions I asked Dr. Stuppy in preparation for the webinar.

Dr. Stuppy’s answers provide a lot of insight in to the value of social media; not only personally, but also professionally. She shares how she manages her online presence, where she finds content and patient’s reactions to her online efforts.

Dr. Stuppy, could you share with us a little bit about your how long you’ve been practicing, where your practice is located, and how many docs?

14 years, practice in Overland Park, a south west suburb of KC. 4 docs and several midlevels

So, you are the SM champion of your practice, I know this because I follow you closely. But before we get into how you manage a strong online presence, work in a busy practice while balancing work and home life, share with us how long have you been on social media?

Some time in 2009-10 a senior partner suggested I start our office FB page. He suggested me because I had done our website’s articles. At the time I had a personal FB account that I rarely used, so I first played around on it for a bit to see how it worked, then opened a business page.

Did you first dive in as most people do with Facebook as a way to connect with family and old high school friends?

I don’t know that “dive in” is accurate. I have a personal page, but it is not used as frequently as my business page. It can be very addictive to spend time looking for good updates. Big time waster. When I find an old friend, I look at pictures of their kids. That is always fun. I will sometimes see updates, but I don’t post very often to my personal page. No one needs to know what I eat and everything I do. Those posts I find annoying. Business pages are much more informational and suit my needs more, so I spend my time there.

At one point, you started hearing about the potential of social media in medicine, walk us through how this idea of using social media as a pediatrician started to form.

As I mentioned, a Sr partner suggested it. He was good at coming up with ideas and giving the work to someone else. While I could have declined, I thought it was a good idea that suited me. I enjoyed being on the high school newspaper/yearbook staff and even my medical school yearbook staff. This seemed like a new way to share that type of information. I wasn’t afraid of computers, so thought I’d try it out.

Did you have an epiphany of sorts or did your interest grow as you learned more about SM?

My interest grew as I did more online. I originally planned on posting several times a week and more about our office itself. I still post our flu shot clinics, weather closings, reminders to schedule PEs, and other office business, but I have found that another great purpose is to share information.

The more I followed various pages on FB, the more pages I found to follow from their shared posts. I soon found that I had to register for email newsletters from my favorites because I missed great posts on their FB pages. It has become really important to me to share reliable medical information, something I don’t think I considered much when first starting out. The information out there has grown too. My original goal was to post 2-4 times/ week. I currently post 3-4 times/day on average.

Can you describe what is so cool about it? As a practicing pediatrician, what is it that you see in these internet tools?

Very little in medicine gets immediate positive rewards. Telling a parent that their child has a cough and it will take a couple weeks to get better, watch for these complications… it can get old.

Parents never give thanks for that. But with social media, you get instant “likes” or comments. I found that I can share solid reliable information with many people in a short time. Safety, illness treatments, insurance tips, and more.

We can communicate with followers in a way that fosters learning in both directions. Comments might drive me to find more articles to post that show it in another way because parents are still questioning, or comments might even initiate a discussion in my office on how we can improve based on a negative comment.

Do you view your SM media efforts as a hobby, or do you view this new way of communicating with people part of your job as an advocate for children?

Some people watch TV. Others golf. I surf the web. It is a hobby to me. I enjoy my time reading and sharing the right articles. It is also an advocacy position. That makes the hobby more rewarding.

You manage more than just your practice’s Facebook page. You have a presence in other social media sites, like Pinterest. Run down for us all SM platforms you engage.

In addition to my office FB page, I am one of the administrators on the unofficial AAP SOAPM “We Are Pediatrician’s” page. You mentioned Pinterest– that page is personal, but linked to my office website so I can share websites with patients. I also use Twitter and have an account at LinkedIn but don’t use it. I have a GooglePlus account, but use it mostly to share my own blog updates. I probably need to work more with Google, since more people are joining it.

Share with us your philosophy or your purpose. Do you do this as a marketing strategy for your practice? Do you view this as just a more efficient way to advocate for children in a broader capacity?

The original purpose of SM for our office was of course marketing. I’m sure it does draw new patients, but we’ve never measured that number. I personally feel the biggest benefit is educating my current patients. I love it when I start to do the car seat talk and mom says, “Oh, we’ll be rear facing for a long time… saw that on your FB page.” I then can stop that discussion short and spend more time on something else. I know the people who frequently interact on FB and I do change my well visit discussions with them. I can spend more time on things I don’t post regularly. It makes the time in the office better spent.

How about the tools you use and the difference in each one of them?

I rely heavily on HootSuite to manage my accounts. It is one of several scheduling tools that allows me to pre-post articles. I can choose post to my 2 FB accounts and Twitter at the same time, different times but the same information, or select which SM site I want it to go to. It doesn’t take any more time to post to all 3 than it does one – except that Twitter limits characters, so I often change my intro statement for Tweets.

Often times, people think of SM as Facebook and Twitter, but SM is more. For example, blogging. You also blog, could you tell us why blogging matters?

Blogging allows me to talk about what’s on my mind. We all get tired of giving the fever talk a million times a day, but I can write about it and share with hundreds within a week. It can slow the phone calls in my office or when I’m on call to blog about the current illness going around.

I have also used it to answer common questions that I couldn’t find good information to post, such as “will standing hurt baby’s legs?” I also hope to educate families about children’s healthcare on a bigger scale.

I find great satisfaction knowing that thousand’s have read my article on generic Concerta substitutions. I am worried that going back and forth between brands will cause overdosing due to the difference in time release of the different formulations. If I can save one child from the effects of an overdose, it will be worth while.

How do you find topics for your blogs?

I tend to write about what is on my mind. Most are illness related or parenting topics. This time of year complaints start coming in from parents who get billed for summer PE components. I really hate those phone calls, so I wrote about why they get a bill.

I can refer to that when I talk to parents, but my hope is that people start reading this information before the next PE, so they won’t have the surprise bill in the first place.

 How often do you post?

I schedule 3-4 posts per day. Sometimes something comes up, such as recall notices or a fun community event that I learn about too late to pre-post. Occasionally our office administrator will share things, such as a fun picture taken at the office (with parental written consent if applicable), phone problem notices, etc.

Where do you find content to share?

I follow many FB business pages, such as other pediatric offices, parenting sites, AAP section and State pages, poison control, pro-vaccine sites, CDC pages, sleep consultant pages… so many!

FB rotates which pages I see on any given day, so I can choose to go specifically to a page to see it. I also manage the pages by adding them to interest lists, so I can choose from Nutrition, behavior, fun kid stuff, etc. (whatever I have grouped together).

My favorite blogs I don’t want to miss I subscribe to their newsletters so their posts come by email. Twitter is another great source that I don’t use as much as I should.

How do you decide what content goes where or do you post the same message all across the board?

I differentiate posts based on the audience. My office posts are geared toward patient families. I watch the Insights statistics to see what posts people are actually reading.

Highest numbers tend to be funny cartoons, quotes, or other quick information. Another trend I’ve noticed is when I post something with a warning (such as “don’t read if you get offended with bad language”), people tend to read those more.

I guess parents are like kids, they want to see what’s of questionable nature. I do restrict those types of articles to only those with a very strong good point, but sometimes it is too good of an article to not post.

When I first started, I decided to steer away from funny cartoons and things, but when I posted one and got such a response, I started to post more. I still try to mostly post information I want people to read, but we have fun on the page too! It is good to try to get people to comment or at least Like a post so it shares on their wall– that’s how posts go viral!

The We Are Pediatricians (WAP) page has a completely different audience. I see this as a blend between personal and professional. The followers should be my peers, not patients, though it is an open page and anyone can follow it.

I do post the same patient directed articles there, but also business management articles. I do post more liberally the questionable or controversial articles on that page, since I want pediatricians to be aware of those issues. I hope people read articles before they share on their office FB pages!

My Twitter followers also tend to be more professionals, so I post some business things there as well as patient information. I keep it pretty non-controversial too since the feed displays on my office website.

My blog automatically posts to Google+, but unless I hit the G+ on an article I really like or comment on a Google blog, I don’t post to Google specifically.

What are your thoughts on hiring somebody to drive a practice’s SM effort?

While I can see how starting a FB page seems like a time consuming and daunting task, I try to make it easy with the WAP page. If someone follows it and a couple other pages they can find plenty to post every day. The benefit to doing it yourself is that you can add your own thoughts in the introductory statement. This is a great opportunity to let your patients know your thoughts.

If you hire someone to do this for you, you will need to know how that person will choose content, what they will say about it, and how they will respond to comments.

Be sure they understand how to pick articles that have reliable healthcare information. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. I will sometimes love an article but one part of it is not what I agree with. I can use the intro statement to add my 2 cents about what I would do or say differently with an overall endorsement of the remaining article. How would a non-medical marketing person handle that?

As long as you have the ground rules for them, it can be done. But in my opinion that is money not well spent. It is not hard to do it yourself.

How much time would you say you spend on SM a day or a week?

This is hard, because I spend about two hours weekdays doing computer work, all before my kids get up or after they go to bed. This is all my personal and professional email, scheduling posts, checking FB for comments, and more. I do spend a little more time on weekends, but mostly because I use that time for blogging and reading articles I didn’t get to during the week.

 Is it necessary to spend that much time? Could you spend less time and still have a presence?

Remember that I probably do a lot more than someone who just wants to post a few articles per day. This is my hobby too! I make it easy for others to just share articles by posting to WAP. If all you do is share some of those articles, you could do this in a few minutes a day.

What do your patients think about all this?

I hear so many positive comments, which makes it very rewarding. I’ve even been stopped in the hall by my partner’s patients who thank me. They love the information and have given many specific examples over the years on how it helped them.

How do you think social media has benefited your practice, your patients or your parents?

As I mentioned before, sharing information has allowed fewer phone calls due to improved education of parents. It can decrease time during visits discussing common issues, saving time for more specific concerns of a family.

It has also allowed sharing of important office events, such as late openings due to bad weather, phone line problems, and vaccine clinics. Patients have had fun seeing their pictures at times.

Do you separate your personal digital presence and your professional presence? If so, how do you?

I think since I must be professional on my social sites, I don’t really separate them much. I tend to be a bit more careful online- especially with my office page, since in the office I can be a little more free of speech if I know who I’m talking to. That’s the same with all social media. I would advise anyone to be careful what they post since it can be misunderstood and it is forever discoverable.

To visit or follow Dr. Stuppy’s online presence, click on the links below.

Big is Not Necessary Better – How a Solo Doctor is Changing Pediatric Healthcare in Her Own Way [Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast]

Today on the AwesomeCast, we had the pleasure to talk to Dr. Robin Warner.

Dr Warner is a solo doc outside of Cleveland. Chip and I were interested in talking to Dr. Warner for several reasons. For starters, we wanted to learn about her experience as a solo doc. We also uncovered some interesting patterns that I think are great lessons for those of us that have smaller practices.

Dr. Warner also shared a project she has been working on that I think is absolutely brilliant. Here is a hint… she is embracing the smartphone craze, leveraging people’s attraction to on-line games and using it to provide deliver awesome pediatric medicine.

Stick to the end of the PodCast. There are a lot of nuggets that if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss.

Enjoy!

To listen to the audio, click below.

Audio

iTunes