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Branding Your Practice through EHR

November 15, 2011
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How medical practices can build community awareness online and through clinical information systems






During a conversation I had with Boris Ratiner, M.D., at MGMA last month, he mentioned how his software-as-a-service (SaaS) EHR (supplied by the Culver City, Calif.-based 4medica) made it much easier to brand his practice. Ratiner, who is one-half of the two-physician Rheumatology Therapeutics Medical Center in Rarzana, Calif., said that he can easily personalize his note template with his practice’s logo, which is convenient for when he faxes or emails referrals.

“What I’ve found is when I get EMR notes from the other doctors I feel like the EMR is trying to market themselves more than the doctor,” said Dr. Ratiner. “And this way I can put my practice logo on it and my referring doctors remember me.”

I had never really thought about how EHRs could help brand physicians and physician practices before. Beyond referrals, a practice’s logo and information can also easily be integrated on patient visit summaries that are required for Stage 1 meaningful use to be provided to patients for more than 50 percent of all office visits within three business days.

A practice’s website and its patient portals are another great branding opportunity for practices, says Sam Bierstock, M.D., president of Champions in Healthcare LLC, which provides EHR implementation consulting services and strategies for healthcare IT businesses. “Physicians have the opportunity to create web pages that in addition to describing the services that their practice, advertise the fact they are using electronic health records,” says Bierstock. “In doing that, they can legitimately make the point that there’s a much lower risk of errors in their practice, that their patients’ records are retrievable and somewhat interchangeable with other doctors and other systems.”

Bierstock says that the average person does not know the patient safety values of e-prescribing and computerized physician order entry (CPOE), and an educational explanation of the value of connecting with drug formularies and having immediate information on drug-drug or drug-allergy interactions could be a good way for practices to brand themselves as an educational resource in the community. “If you were branding yourselves as a practice that has moved into the digital world for all the patient safety reasons, you can establish yourselves as a practice that is actively educating the community about the impact that has on their healthcare,” he says.

The only challenge Bierstock admits is the juggling of priorities in this all-too-busy age of healthcare reform. “I think there’s so much weighing on physicians’ minds right now with respect to HITECH compliance, meaningful use issues, interoperability with hospitals, health information exchanges, and ACOs,” he says. “I see it as useful and important to maintain practice volume, but I wouldn’t see this as a priority.”

I’m curious how practices will use their websites to make themselves more attractive to local hospitals in preparation for accountable care organization development. Practices can publish their HEDIS patient satisfaction scores and quality outcomes measures to advertise the quality care they give to their patients, which would make them more desirable to partner with.

I’d like to get your thoughts on this topic. What are you doing online or through your clinical information systems to brand your practice?