MAKE IT EASY FOR POTENTIAL CLIENTS TO FIND YOU 

You know how when you’re driving in an unfamiliar city and you want to find a restaurant? The quickest way is to hit the ‘find a restaurant near me button’ on Google maps.  Immediately the closest restaurants come up –  and with one click you can call them, get directions or check out their website and customer recommendations. 

LIST YOUR MEDICAL BUSINESS 

Well, if you have a medical business, you can use Google My Business  in the same way so that potential clients will quickly find you on Google search and Google Maps. Below you can see what happens, for example when someone types in ‘hospital near me’:

Get started with a HEALTHCARE PROVIDER Business Profile

Healthcare providers like doctors, therapists, and other medical practitioners can use Business Profile to manage info for their practices and personalize their profile on Google Search and Maps. If you don’t already have a Google account, create one. Then click on https://www.google.com/business/  and follow the steps to begin your business listing.

 

It’s  free, there are no limitations to listing your medical or healthcare business and it is really easy to set up.  In fact, Google might already show your business on a suggested list. If it already exists, you can simply claim it and then follow the steps to begin your business listing  

Once you’ve set up your listing, you can manage it from a Google My Business dashboard. The insight tool tells you have many phone calls or messages your listing has generated, whether clients found you on Google Maps or Google search and what keywords they searched for which led them to you. 

 

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When you enter your business address it automatically creates a map with a pin so that your new customer just clicks on directions and gets the quickest route to your door.  

 

As a healthcare business owner,  a Google My Business listing is an essential part of your online marketing strategy,  so head straight over to your google account and get going!   

Here’s the link: https://support.google.com/business/answer/9798848?hl=en

 

As a healthcare practitioner in South Africa, it’s important to have a strong online presence in order to attract new patients and build a loyal patient base. One of the most effective ways to do this is by setting up a Google Places listing.

 

Google Places is a free tool that allows you to create a listing for your practice on Google Search and Google Maps. This listing will include your practice’s address, contact information, website, and customer reviews. When someone searches for a healthcare practitioner or a hospital in your area, your listing will appear in the search results, making it easy for potential patients to find your practice.

 

Getting started with Google Places is simple. First, make sure you have a Google account. If you don’t already have one, you can create one for free at account.google.com. Once you have a Google account, visit google.com/places and follow the steps to create your listing. If Google already has information about your practice, it will appear on a suggested list and you can claim your business.

 

When creating your listing, be sure to add as much information as possible about your practice. This includes your address, phone number, website, and hours of operation. You can also add photos of your practice and a brief description of the services you offer. This will help potential patients get a better understanding of what your practice has to offer and decide if it’s the right fit for them.

 

One of the best things about Google Places is that you can manage your listing from a dashboard. This will give you insights on how customers are finding your practice, what keywords they searched for, and how many phone calls or messages your listing has generated. You can use this information to optimize your listing and make it even more effective.

 

In addition to creating a Google Places listing, it’s also important to actively manage and update it. Responding to customer reviews, adding new photos, and keeping your hours of operation and contact information up-to-date will all help improve your listing’s visibility and credibility.

 

As a healthcare practitioner in South Africa, a Google Places listing is an essential part of your online marketing strategy. It’s free, easy to set up, and can help potential patients find your practice. So head to your Google account and create your listing today!

It’s worth noting that Google Places for business has been replaced by Google My Business, which has more features, and the same steps apply.

 

HPCSA MARKETING AND ADVERTISING GUIDELINES

 

In years gone by, health care practitioners (HCP’s) were not allowed to advertise  their services, relying instead on reputation and word of mouth recommendations. Today, the legal landscape has undergone dramatic change and medical professionals  have a huge range of marketing and social media options for connecting with patients. 

In South Africa, ethical healthcare practice is governed by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) which states that: “In the modern attention-economy, marketing is a reality for any practitioner involved in running a sustainable practice. However, we urge professionals to stay within ethical boundaries when trying to acquire patients to make use of their services.” 


Why are the guidelines important for your practice?
The HPCSA Guidelines are mandated in South African Health Legislation and form part of the standards of conduct on which a complaint of professional misconduct can be based. However, the boundaries are blurred and the HPCSA themselves say that: ‘it is impossible, to develop a complete set of specific prescriptions applicable to all conceivable real-life situations. Therefore, HCP’s may have to work out  for themselves what course of action can best be defended ethically.’ 

Clearly then, it is critical that not only you as the practitioner but also the agencies you work with, understand what the HCPSA views as unacceptable marketing.

 

For starters, healthcare hinges on a trust relationship between patients and practitioners so mainstream and social media marketing must be truthful and factual to help patients make well-informed decisions. This means that HCPs need to be extra cautious about  any marketing activity that could be interpreted as being misleading, offering an incentive, or promoting something or someone as superior to others. Here the terms ‘canvassing and touting’ are used, so let’s briefly unpack them:  

 

Canvassing is initiating systematic contact with prospective customers and actively  trying to persuade them to support a brand or a business. 

Touting is typically what tourists encounter when taxi drivers at an airport persist in offering them the ´best deal´ or the ´greatest hotel accommodation´. 

In the healthcare setting, these caveats also restrict 3rd party activity – for example letting patients know that there is  free Wi-Fi they can use in practice waiting rooms because this is a service which falls outside the practice’s scope of services. HCPs also cannot brazenly try to poach patients from other practitioners by making bragging claims like ‘Dr K is the best physiotherapist in Cape Town.” 

 

The HPCSA social media guidelines specifically caution HCPs against canvassing or touting on social media platforms or allowing anyone else to do so on their behalf. This means you need to  pay careful attention to how you use 3rd  party patient testimonials or celebrity endorsements. While these are permissible, they may not be for financial gain which also has implications for influencers promoting your services. In short, any claim must be evidence-based, scientifically sound and generic with the caveat that readers and listeners need to consult a health practitioner in person before acting on any information they receive. 

For example, a well-known athlete posts on Instagram saying something like:  ‘Three weeks after my knee surgery with Dr Fourie, I am riding my bike again and I feel great!”  This is acceptable but posts should mention that each patient experience is unique and that those considering knee treatment options must consult an orthopaedic specialist. The guidelines also detail strict conditions relating to patient consent and disclosure of patient identity. Lastly, something that is often overlooked is that once content is shared online, it is difficult to remove and is likely to remain on the internet permanently. 

For more guidelines for platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, SnapChat, Tiktok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, please take a careful look at the HPCSA ethical guidelines  on social media. These highlight that any use of social media should be aimed at patient education and information that positively affects healthcare choices.

Download the guidelines 

The guidelines are contained in two booklets.

Booklet 11: Guidelines on over servicing, perverse incentives and related matters

Booklet 16: Ethical guidelines on social media

https://www.hpcsa.co.za/Uploads/Professional_Practice/Ethics_Booklet.pdf


In our next few blogs we will give more info about other marketing practices on platforms like Medpages, Google My Business and Social Media, so watch this space.

How we maintain confidentiality between patients and practitioners

How we maintain confidentiality between patients and practitioners

We understand how important confidentiality is for healthcare practitioners, which is why we pride ourselves on keeping information confidential when answering calls from patients

What is patient confidentiality?

Patient confidentiality is a principle that essentially outlines that a medical practitioner cannot disclose any personal information given by their patient. 

Patient confidentiality is enforced by the Health Practitioners Council of South Africa. The National Health Act (Act No. 61 of 2003) states that all patients have a right to

confidentiality and this is consistent with the right to privacy in the South African

Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996).

This law also protects the patient by ensuring that the practitioner or their employees don’t take advantage and use the information for their own gain. For example, without this law, patient information could easily be sold to companies for advertising purposes. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, for example, your information could be sold to companies that produce diabetes medication. 

With this law, patient information, medical records, history and other information are safe and cannot be shared. 

What are some examples of confidential information? 

  • Name, date of birth, age, sex, and address
  • Current contact details  
  • Bank information
  • Medical history or records
  • Personal care issues
  • Service records and file progress notes
  • Assessments or reports

What are the benefits of maintaining patient confidentiality?

Aside from complying with the law, privacy is fundamental in building trust between the patient and their doctor. When there is trust, patients are more willing to share information that may help their practitioner with diagnosis and treatment. 

If a client’s information were to be shared, it would not only be a breach of privacy but could potentially result in the loss of patients for a practitioner. 

Patient Confidentiality and Third Party Vendors

When a practitioner hires a virtual assistant, the idea is to make life easier for them and improve the overall patient experience. 

They might feel that there is no guarantee that the virtual assistant will maintain client confidentiality, especially considering that a virtual PA is an outsourced service and privacy policies are not easily enforced. 

This is why it is important for medical practitioners to hire virtual PA companies that know the importance of keeping crucial information private and have developed a specific policy for virtual assistants. 

To find out more about our company and the steps we implement to secure your patients’ confidentiality, give us a call at 087 135 0138 or email info@thethaconnect.co.za. You can also complete our contact form!

Thetha Connect and Patient Privacy

Thetha Connect adheres to strict guidelines regarding patient confidentiality. Our agents are highly trained and we maintain the highest standard of care for patient information and medical records, so you can rest assured that your patient information is safe. We are fully compliant with all international data security and privacy laws.

As for the medical practitioner themselves, we have strategies in place to ensure that their personal information is protected too, such as their private cell phone number. This ensures that their patient’s calls get transferred to dedicated telephone lines and that the medical practitioner only receives calls relating to their services. 

There are loads of virtual PA companies out there, but not all are reputable. When choosing your virtual assistant, you should do your research and check the legitimacy of their work. Make sure that you check their references or testimonials, their background and how reliable they are. 

Take a look at our website to see how we can help you free up your time and secure more patient bookings.