Posts Tagged LinkedIn

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Physician Productivity Bonus Model: A Hybrid of Work RVUs and Encounters

Based on a great conversation I had on LinkedIn recently, I decided to write about physician productivity models and the hybrid model (encounters and work RVUs) I developed for a hospital-sponsored family practice program. This bonus model rewards providers seeing less patients with more acute needs as well as providers seeing more patients with less acute needs.

Here are the components of this model:

  1. SCHEDULE: The providers are available (have an open schedule) four 8-hour days per week, or 32 face-to-face patient hours per week. Providers are expected to work four 10-hour days, with the additional 2 hours per day used for reviewing records, approving prescriptions, etc. This was pre-EMR for this group.
  2. ENCOUNTERS: The providers have an agreed-upon schedule which averages 22 patients per 8-hour day. (In this model, new patient visits are 40 minutes and established patient visits are 20 minutes.) Subtracting the providers time off, the schedule works out to 3828 patients per year, or 957 patients per quarter. For every patient they see over 957 patients per quarter, they receive $10 per patient. The providers receive encounter credits for nursing home and indigent care clinic work during office hours.
  3. WORK RVUs: Based on the encounters, work RVUs are calculated at 4073 per year, or 1018.25 per quarter. Every work RVU over 1018.25 per quarter receives a bonus of $10.
  4. EXCLUSIONS: The providers did not get credit for anything they did not do personally – no credit for ear lavage, vaccines, allergy shots or laboratory tests. They did not get credit for any no charge visit, either as an encounter or as a work RVU.
  5. VALIDATION: Both encounters and wRVUs were also matched up to physician productivity surveys to make sure the base salary was comparable to the base productivity.
  6. EXAMPLE: A provider seeing the 23rd patient of the day  – perhaps a 99214 (work RVU 1.50) will get $10 for the encounter and $15.00 for the wRVU for a total of $25.00. By seeing an additional 99214 every day during the quarter, the bonus would be $1600 for the quarter. Because the appointment times were generous, there was a high probability that additional patients could be worked in daily, allowing the providers to see more than 22 patients per day without killing themselves.

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Posted in: Finance, Physician Relations

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New Employee Paperwork Explained – Part 1: The Application

Ever wondered if you are doing things right, or doing the right things when you hire a new employee?  Then this series is for you! Human Resource Consultant Susan Hayes will cover the hiring paperwork including posting the job, the job application, the job offer letter, the I-9 form, the W-4, and the personnel file.

NEW YORK - JUNE 24: A job seeker looks over t...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Once you have made the decision…

…to fill a new or existing position you will post/advertise the job internally and externally.  Larger employers usually post open jobs on a bulletin board that is located where current employees, as well as the public, have access. When there are several hundred employees, possibly in several locations it is hard to get the word out that a job is open. However, smaller employers rarely need to post an available job because the grapevine works very well and word of mouth will spread the news before you have a chance to announce it.

What difference does it make if you post a job?

The main reason you post a job whether you have 10 employees or 200 employees is to be sure you are not inadvertently discriminating against any class of people. A hiring can be defended only if the job was posted and anyone with skills, knowledge and/or background to do the job had a chance to apply. If the job is not posted, there could be a question as to why certain people did not know. Were only males told that the job was open so a female would not get hired?

I’ve had to defend hirings in areas of race, gender, age and disability. If there is no proof that the job was made available for anyone with skills, knowledge and/or background, and there is no documentation of the decision process, you might find it hard to defend why you hired an applicant.  Job postings and advertisements should be kept for a minimum of one year in order to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

What’s the best way to advertise a position?

Depending on the job and your community, you may advertise your position in different ways.  Some practices give referral fees to employees who refer people who are hired.  Some programs give 1/2 of the referral fee when the new employee passes the 90-day mark and the other half when the new employee reaches one year.  Craigslist is one of the most popular places to advertise positions.  Depending on the position you may also want to consider:

  • Newspaper
  • Employment Security Commission
  • Comm unity Colleges – post jobs and also ask teachers for recommendations
  • Local or state medical manager groups or listservs
  • Specialty job boards or publications (nurses, technologists, mid-level providers)
  • Social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

How should you describe a position in an advertisement?

My favorite way to give potential applicants as much information as possible so they can decide if they are a fit for the job is to place a small ad on craigslist.com, the newspaper or other media directing applicants to call a job line at your practice.  You can assign a voice mail box as the job line and instruct those interested to call and listen to a description of the requirements for the job, the responsibilities of the job and the benefits of the job.  Asking applicants to then email or mail a resume or complete an online application will ensure that your applicant can follow directions!

Why do I need to use an application?

While there is no law that states a potential employee has to complete an application, if you are an employer that is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) there is certain information that you must collect.

Who is covered by FLSA?

Any private employer with two employees or more that engages in interstate commerce activities and has an annual business volume of at least $500,000 is covered by FLSA.  Also covered are hospitals, educational institutions and state and federal public employers.  Individual employees who are engaged in interstate commerce activities even if their employer does not gross $500,000 a year would be covered also. Interstate commerce is the buying and selling of products and services across state borders.

The application is a quick way to get the information in the beginning of the process and have it together in one place if the applicant is hired.  The application also helps you to compare information between applicants that has been standardized.  Some resumes are crafted to hide shortcomings and those shortcomings will easily appear when an application is completed.

Some people do not have resumes and the application is an easy way to have information about an applicant’s educational and work background in one place with a signature to verify the information. It can also provide legal information to refer to in the future.  For instance, if an employee puts on an application that he/she can work any day of the week and then when asked to work on Sunday, claims that he/she cannot, you can go to the application and find the claim in writing.

Most applications no longer require a full social security number.  Because the application may pass through many hands, this is one way to protect the applicant’s number from inadvertent exposure.

Many employers require even top level position candidates to fill out an application so they have documentation of experience and education.  Applicants will need to provide details and dates of past employment and education, as well as detailed information on licenses, credentials and certifications.   If the application is completed online, this application information may automatically download to a human resources program, saving the employer time and money.

It’s important for the job application to be complete and accurate. The information that you will independently verify is: Name, Address, City, State, Zip Code, Phone Number, Eligibility to Work in US, Felony convictions, and if under age, working paper certificate.

Applications should be kept in a confidential place for one year in order to be in compliance with ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  However ADEA requires that applications for those over 40 years of age must be kept for two years. The dilemma is: how do you know the age of the applicant if you cannot ask it on the application?  The answer = keep all applications for two years to be safe.

Read Part 2 in this series here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Hayes’ undergraduate degree in Psychology from NC Wesleyan College prepared her to weigh objectivity with compassion. Her Masters in Public Health from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her background in benefits administration have given her a comprehensive understanding of the complexities and scrutiny imposed on businesses, particularly healthcare businesses.  Twenty years as a human resource specialist in the healthcare field means that Ms. Hayes is well-positioned to help a healthcare entity of any size find solutions for human resource issues.  She can be contacted at Susan Hayes, MPH, Hayes Consulting, 910-284-1627, hayesconsulting@embarqmail.com.

Posted in: Human Resources

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This is My Application for a Spot on the Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media

Mayo Clinic

Image via Wikipedia

Recently the Mayo Clinic launched its Center for Social Media and announced the names of 13 well-suited social media stars to sit on its volunteer external advisory board.  An additional 12 people will be chosen from nominations and applications.  This post is my application.

I’ve been writing about social media in healthcare since I read Phil Bauman’s groundbreaking “140 Healthcare Uses for Twitter” almost two years ago. The exciting potential for social media in healthcare settings is also cause for apprehension among administrators and clinical staff.  What once was so hidden, so cloistered, so proprietary, so inscrutable is now emerging into the sunlight and is becoming collaborative, transparent, open, consumerist and available.  It’s refreshing and scary.

I started my career in healthcare as a temp receptionist in an orthopedic office over 25 years ago. I have been a consultant, a private practice manager of small practices, a Chief Operating Officer of a very large practice.  I’ve worked with physicians and care providers of all kinds in settings both rural and urban, for-profit and not-for-profit, and I have done most everything in healthcare except serve on the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Advisory Board. (hint)

For the talent portion of my program, I will be interviewing myself live.

Q: Tell us something interesting about yourself.
A: I was Butler County (PA) Junior Miss of 1976 (a brains pageant with some physical fitness thrown in for good measure.)

Q: What is your greatest regret?
A: I wish I had taken touch typing in high school.

Q: Are you a cat person or dog person?
A: A cat person but I get along well with dogs.

Q: Favorite charity?
A: My brother is a missionary in Ukraine and his organization (www.muchhope.org) helps disadvantaged children with food, clothing, healthcare and education.

Q: How do feel about shameless plugs?
A: I find them tacky, but ultimately necessary.

Q: What social media apps do you use?
A: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, GoAnimate, Wellsphere, WordPress Blog

Q: What is your favorite social media app for healthcare?
A: Ummm. Pass.

Q: Why you?
A: Why not me? I’m a patient, a mom, a wife, a healthcare manager, a social media groupie, a blogger, a reader, a thinker, a cartoonist, a learner, a writer, an observer of life.  Every board needs me.

Q: What is the future of social media in healthcare?
A: Mobile, for sure, and I think QR codes have tremendous promise.

Q: What is your favorite social media app for healthcare?
A: Facebook.  The potential is unlimited.

Q: Last question: “healthcare.” One word or two?
A: One.

NOTE: If my beloved readers wish to support my appointment to the MCCSM Advisory Board, please Tweet about me with the hashtag #mccsc, leave a comment on the MCCSM blog here, or send an email of support to socialmediacenter@mayo.edu.  Thank you!

Posted in: Social Media

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Interview With Bob Cooper: Bringing Heart and Soul into Healthcare Boardrooms

Bob Cooper and I connected on LinkedIn when he responded to a question in a way that I thought was quite different from all the other answers.  That inspired me to view his profile, see his book and contact him about answering some questions about his book for MMP readers.

1. How did you get started working in the healthcare field?

I was recruited by an executive search firm to work for an academic medical center in the fields of Human Resources and Organizational Development.

2. How much of your business is in the healthcare market?

Approximately 80% of my clients are in the healthcare field.

3. What are the types of issues you are called upon to help resolve for healthcare clients?

I am frequently called upon to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration on patient care units and other departments using my Organizational Huddle Process„¢, improve patient satisfaction, enhance staff satisfaction and retention, develop leadership competency, executive coaching, and strategic planning.

4. What is the most common issue you see healthcare entities struggling with?

The most common issue I see healthcare entities struggling with is maintaining effective staffing ratios in an environment of shrinking reimbursements.

5. If you use your crystal ball, what types of issues do you see healthcare entities facing with the full impact of healthcare reform hitting in 2014?

The greatest issue I see is how to effectively run the business during a time of great uncertainty. Healthcare leaders will need to be great change agents. They will need to engage staff at all levels to understand and embrace the changes as they evolve, and incorporate recommended strategies that will continue to grow the business. Healthcare organizations will need to stick with business strategies that are viable, and know when to get out of businesses that are not going to be profitable.

6. You say your new book “Heart and Soul in the Boardroom” helps leaders to inspire employees to new heights of engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.  We know that healthcare employees (providers, administration, nurses, clerical staff) are all struggling with burnout, change, and economic issues. Give us advice on leading employees in a very difficult time in healthcare,

My advice is to engage staff in running the business, show concern for their career aspirations and development, and work hard to serve their needs. It’s true that many people are working harder to just keep up with the pace of change. Our job as leaders is to show every member of our team how much we truly value them ”“ and really mean it!

7. What is the secret to managers taking care of themselves when they are responsible for keeping the business going, keeping the physicians happy, keeping the staff happy and keeping the patients happy?

Managers must seek to keep themselves happy. This means that they find joy and meaning in their work. Learn to appreciate every interaction with every internal and external customer. For example, find joy in looking at the smile on an employee’s face after you give a sincere compliment. Find happiness in everything you do, including drinking your favorite cup of coffee. Say good morning and thank you to all. Show concern for everyone you deal with. And perhaps the most important thing you could do is to learn to detach. This means that you give everything you have to achieve a positive outcome, but you also recognize that you do not “control” the outcome. Be grateful for what you have ”“ make a gratitude list every day.

8. You and I talked about living an authentic and integrated life.  What does that mean to you and how can managers achieve this?

An authentic and integrated life means that you live your values everyday, and at all times. You understand that who you are at work is no different from who you are outside of work. Your values should come from a place of service, always exhibiting behaviors that are kind and considerate to others. You “brand” yourself as someone who is consistent, reliable, and everyone knows what you stand for at all times. Others know that your intentions are pure and good.

9. When can we expect your next book and what will it be about?

Heart and Soul in the Boardroom is my third book, and I don’t know when I will write my next one. What I can say for sure is this ”“ the next book will be a result of my being inspired to be of service others.

Bob Cooper is the founder and president of RL Cooper Associates, an innovative healthcare organizational and management consulting firm. With over twenty-five years experience in people and organizational development, Mr. Cooper’s focus is placed on identifying strategies that maximize organizational effectiveness and fundamental transformation by enabling individuals and groups to reach their full potential.  In addition to “Heart and Soul in the Boardroom”, Mr. Cooper is the author of “Huddle Up ”“ Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Service Excellence”, and “Leadership Tips To Enhance Staff Satisfaction and Retention.” Mr. Cooper holds an MS in Human Resource Management and a BA in Economics. He is also a member of Strathmore’s Who’s Who.  Bob can be contacted at rlcooperassoc@aol.com.

Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Human Resources, Leadership

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Your Digital Reputation: What Does Your Online Presence Say to Future Employers?

I have been getting lots of questions lately about finding jobs in healthcare management.  The healthcare field is very mobile right now and many managers inside the field and in other fields are looking for advice on the best way to make a move.

In addition to making sure they have the right skills and experience, job seekers also need to be sure that their digital reputations are sterling, and if not, need to make the move to correct them.  In fact, every single person reading this post should check on their digital footprint and see what the web has to say.  You never know when an employment change will suddenly be in your future.

What if you don’t show up on the web radar at all because you’re not on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google finds no matches for your name?  That says you’re not in the know, not networking, not sharing and definitely not computer-savvy.  Here’s an excellent SlideShare presentation by Susan P. Joyce of job-hunt.org that gives job seekers (and truly, each one of us in healthcare is a job seeker, whether we admit it to ourselves or not) a gold mine of information about creating or correcting your online presence.

View more presentations from Job-Hunt.org.

Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Innovation, Learn This: Technology Answers, Social Media

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Dear Mary Pat: How Do I Get My Foot in the Door? (24 Things to Do to Break into Healthcare Management)

So you’ve been trying to become employed in healthcare, or you’ve tried to enter healthcare management, or you’re trying to move from one job in healthcare to another.  You’ve read my post about my search for a job in healthcare and have been soldiering on, but you’re just not getting anywhere.  You might have education, but no experience or you might have experience but no formal education.

Healthcare is no different from any other field.  It’s a hodgepodge of what you know and who you know.  What everyone is looking for is expertise and authority and that can’t always be demonstrated by a degree or years of experience.  A new buzz phrase is “What is your value proposition?” or “How will you pay for your salary and make me (doctor, practice, hospital, health plan) money besides?”

If you want to enter the field or climb the ladder in healthcare management, you need to demonstrate that you have something of value that someone wants.  Try some non-traditional ways of gaining expertise and demonstrating value, like the ones I list here.  Yes, each of these will take time in addition to your current job, but it has the potential to give you a hand up to your next job.  If you don’t currently have a job, you have lots of time to work on the list below, and when potential employers ask what you’ve been doing while unemployed, you have a great answer!

  1. Blog about the field you want to enter – learn about the field and write about it.
  2. Write about being in the middle of a transitional field and your experiences along the way – if you’re a compelling writer, I’ll publish it as a series on my blog!
  3. Create a site of resources for others that already do what you want to do.
  4. Interview others in the field you want to enter and publish the interviews.
  5. Ask people if you can shadow them for one day or a half day to understand what they do to see if you’re on the right track (who would say “no”? I wouldn’t.)
  6. If you haven’t used voice recognition, invest in a basic copy of Dragon and learn it inside and out.
  7. Learn how electronic health records (EHRs) work.  If you’ve never used one, gain experience by finding someone who has one and volunteer your time to write a user’s guide for them, or to use their user’s guide and critique it for them. Do that for as many different EHRs as you can find.
  8. Think creatively about jobs in a department you want to be in, just not in the job you want to be in – call temp agencies, computer schools, software companies, any healthcare entity going through a conversion, etc.
  9. Tell everyone (if you’re free to talk about it) what you’re looking for – you never know who might help you find it.
  10. Volunteer to do an informal project for someone in the field – some topic they need information about but never have the time to do.
  11. Join the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE) and pursue board certification and become a Fellow in the college.  These credentials are quickly becoming the standard in the field.
  12. Get a Google Health account and learn how to use it inside and out.
  13. Get a Microsoft Health Vault account and learn how to use it inside and out.
  14. Get accounts on any other personal health record (PHR) platform you can find.
  15. Publish case studies on common problems in other fields and how they were solved, and apply those solutions to healthcare problems.
  16. Put a chart on your resume showing each skill you have and how it transfers to healthcare and brings added value to your potential employer.
  17. If you don’t yet, get a Twitter account (free) and start conversations with others in the field.
  18. If you don’t yet, get a LinkedIn account (free) and join groups that are talking about the things you want to learn about (Twitter will give you more info and friends, LinkedIn will make you more business connections)
  19. If you aren’t already, sign up for websites that focus on what you are interested in, read them religiously and comment on their posts.
  20. If you don’t already, get your resume on visualcv.com (still free I think) Add any goodies you can to your visualcv that demonstrate you know your stuff – recommendations, videos, charts, white papers, etc.
  21. Find someone to mentor you who is well-positioned (locally, regionally and nationally.)
  22. Volunteer to do some pro bono work for your local professional group – your state MGMA, your state medical society, etc.
  23. Join Toastmasters and polish your “elevator speech” so you can effortlessly let others know who you are and where you’re heading.
  24. Let me know what you plan to do, and how I can help.

Best wishes,

Mary Pat

Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Social Media

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16 Tips for Landing Your Next Healthcare Management Job

I wrote this post for the MGMA In Practice Blog and have republished it here for my readers.

I resigned from my job managing an orthopedic group on Jan. 20, 2009, and I remember thinking, Who leaves a job during a recession? Well, I did, and what follows is what I learned on my three-and-a-half month journey to my new position.

  1. Visit the MGMA Career Center job search site often. Try different categories and occasionally check categories you don’t think you fit in ”“ you never know. I don’t suggest this because I am writing for the MGMA blog, I suggest it because it is a resource that I believe in.
  2. Four state MGMA sites integrate their “jobs boards” with the MGMA Career Center: Colorado, Georgia, New Jersey and Montana. Search other state MGMA sites; some allow non-members to access the job listings.
  3. Get a LinkedIn account (free) at LinkedIn.com and complete your profile, connect with colleagues, join groups and start networking. There are healthcare jobs listed exclusively on LinkedIn, as well as an aggregation of jobs listed elsewhere. Joining MGMA’s new LinkedIn group will help expand your network even more.
  4. In addition to LinkedIn, be sure to have your expanded resume on the web. MGMA provides a platform for this, as does VisualCV.com (free). I use VisualCV.com because it allows me to include articles I’ve authored, recommendations from former employers and even video. I’ve gotten a number of quality calls from recruiters who saw my expanded resume online.
  5. Contact consultants to let them know you are in the market. MGMA has a consulting arm that often places healthcare executives, and you can also search for consultants via the MGMA Member Directory (members only) which at last count numbered about 640.
  6. Contact your colleagues and MGMA friends to let them know you’re looking. If you are looking for employment in a particular region or community, contact managers working there and let them know about your search.
  7. Look on Craigslist.org. Yes, really! You would be amazed who advertises there.
  8. If you expect to relocate, having a home to sell may be a hiring stumbling block because of the housing market. Employers want to know you’ll be available to work when they want you. If you don’t have a home to sell, mention that in your cover letter/e-mail.
  9. When you apply for a position, ask the receiver to let you know that your e-mail arrived. If they respond, take the opportunity to respond back, which helps you to stand out from the pack and gives you a name to follow up with in a few weeks by e-mail.
  10. There is a pack! Some employers told me they had received more than 200 mostly qualified applications for open positions. How do you stand out in that kind of a crowd? Network, network, network. Find out whether you or someone you know knows someone at the potential employer and work it.  LinkedIn has an excellent system for finding out who you know that works at the employer you are targeting.
  11. Join more listservs on the MGMA Member Community (members only). Step outside your current/past specialties and join other professional e-mail lists to listen and contribute to the conversation. Respond when someone talks about a job opening.
  12. Talk to recruiters. Recruiters don’t owe you anything, but they are worth including in your search. Get into the minds of a recruiters and see what tactics they’re using on social networking platforms to fill jobs.
  13. Don’t spend much time on non-healthcare job boards. The likelihood that you will find the job of your dreams on Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com is low.
  14. Don’t be afraid to look for a job on Twitter. This is what I tweeted: “Calling on the Power of Twitter: looking for new job: private (phys) practice mgmt/other healthcare opp. Innovator, Blogger. DM me – Thx.” If you want to jump into Twitter but don’t know what it’s all about, read this post at my blog, Manage My Practice, or MGMA’s Twitter guide. Twitter has recruiters, consultants, employers, job boards and colleagues and is one of the fastest-growing social networks. It can significantly expand your networking scope.
  15. Share information with other job seekers in your market. Don’t be afraid to share your leads with others ”“ it’s good networking karma!
  16. Two sites I found useful during my job search are CareerAlley.com and Alltop.com. Career Alley is a good all-purpose site with lots of job search information and resources, such as a tracking spreadsheet that helps you document your leads. Alltop is an ever-growing aggregator of other sites ”“ try looking under “jobs” and “careers.”

Remember, the Internet doesn’t replace traditional networking ”“ it supercharges it! The important thing is to get out there and make connections, share information and let people know what value you bring to a practice. Even with all the social networking I did, my opportunity came the old-fashioned way: A colleague and consultant I knew well from the state and regional levels of MGMA recommended me for a job, and here I am. Good luck!

Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Innovation

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Learn This: Twitter, Social Networking, and Micro-blogging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter is a combination of two concepts, social networking and micro-blogging. When combined, they create a fascinating way for people to communicate and keep in touch.  Let’s explore social networking and micro-blogging individually first.

 

Social Networking

 

This is the Myspace, and Facebook you’ve heard so much about.  You already know what networking is – you create, build, and maintain personal and professional relationships to meet people, find opportunities, and learn new things.  Successful practice managers are constantly networking to be in the know and stay ahead of the curve.  Now add the social aspect of it to the equation.  Social networking means starting with people you already know, and using that as a jumping off point. Take your existing network of contacts and digitize them to build an on-line community.

Think about your contact list in your address book, email, phone, or Blackberry.  You have everyone in there: colleagues, friends, family.  What if you also had access to the contact lists of everyone in their contact lists?  There would be duplicate entries but there would also be a lot of people in this “friends of friends” list that you didn’t know before.  You would probably see a lot of new names and faces, some of whom you might want to talk to about your organization, their organization, your product, their service, their hobbies, even ask out on a date!

When you walk into a room and see a friend talking to someone you don’t know, you go and say hello to your friend, and introduce yourself to the stranger- you are building your network by social networking!

The differences between various social networking sites (see the MMP post on LinkedIn) will be explored in a later article, but all social networking sites have one thing in common – they are designed to help you meet new people through common friends, interests, pasts, and goals.

 

Micro-blogging

 

It’s blogging, but smaller.  But what’s blogging?  “Blog” is short for “web log”, and it is keeping an online journal of writings, pictures, and other multimedia, as well as news items and content found on the web.  Some blogs are just places where people write about their feelings and activities so other people can read them.  Some blogs are focused on a topic- like ManageMyPractice.com focuses on health care administration.  But all blogs are simply websites that are updated by their authors fairly frequently around some common theme.

How does blogging become “micro”?  By shrinking it down to its bare essence and relaying the heart of the message, communicating the necessary.  How could this be of use to you?  What if you set up a system where your kids received updates when you were going to be home later than usual from work, telling them they were allowed to have a soda with their homework before TV, and what would be for dinner when you arrived?  Or maybe your kids need to update you when their plans change.  What if all your colleagues were updating each other about the goings-on at a professional conference so they could decide on the fly which events to attend, and share their experiences, and decide where everyone would be meeting afterward.

Anything that could be helped by contacting an entire group of people quickly with short message could benefit from micro-blogging.

 

Twitter puts it all together

 

Twitter takes these two concepts, and merges the whole shebang with your mobile device.  Twitter lets you easily microblog to your social network over your mobile device. You don’t have to use a cell phone or a Blackberry to use Twitter- you can send and receive updates over the web, and through a variety of third party providers.

If you want to get started, go to the Twitter homepage at www.twitter.com, and click the green button that says “JOIN THE CONVERSATION”.  You will create a username and password, and start adding contacts and you’ll soon be able to make your first micro-blog post (they call them “tweets”).

On Twitter, anyone you want to receive updates from is someone you are “following”, and anyone who is receiving your messages is one of your “followers”.  You can also send messages directly to just one user, or set up groups of people to receive certain updates – your co-workers don’t have to see your notes to your kids, and vice-versa. You can also do fun things, like upload a little picture of yourself to be your icon that people will see when they are on Twittera.

 

Now it’s time to supercharge your cell phone

 

But you don’t have to ever go to the site if you don’t want to!  The real power of Twitter is that it can let you do all these short internet communications (micro-blogging) right from your cell phone.  Basic text messages that you may already use on your cell phone (called “SMS messages“) can be used to send and receive messages from Twitter.   Just link your Twitter account to a mobile phone in your Twitter settings, and then you can send your updates as text messages to 40404.  Incoming Twitter messages from the users you follow will show up as incoming texts from Twitter, but with labels to show you which user the update is from.  You can also customize your mobile updates, so you only get messages from certain users. If you follow some people who are heavy updaters, you might get tired of constant alerts of new text messages.  Also be sure you understand your cell phone’s text messaging plan – Twitter is free to use, but if you don’t have unlimited messaging on your phone, it could be easy to run up a big bill.

Once you have your Twitter up and running on your mobile phone things get really interesting, as now you’ve basically turned your cell phone service into an internet chat room. And in terms of business, that gives you near constant connection.  Twitter users are often the first people to know the newest information, and love to post updates about it online.  It’s an interesting way to see what’s new in the world – finding out what people are talking about literally “right then”.  Plus it creates an interesting crowd of which to ask questions: What’s going on tonight?  Can anyone recommend good seafood on the north side of town?  Is anyone getting anything out of this conference?

The brilliance of Twitter is that it so easily connects people on all different types of computers and cell phone platforms.  Twitter can seamlessly create networks of people communicating for mutual benefit, and provide an interesting new way to keep on top and keep in touch.

To Recap:

  1. Social Networking = networking with your friends’ friends
  2. Micro-blogging = little missives without all the niceties and all the heart
  3. Twitter = #1 + #2 (little missives to your friends’ friends’ friends)
  4. How can you leverage this technology to make your practice more efficient and productive?

Note from Mary Pat: How can Twitter be used in a medical practice setting?  Here are a few ways – I’m sure you can think of others.  If your doctor is running late, use direct messages to Twitter patients to let them know right away that they can arrive later or reschedule their appointment.  Likewise, when an earlier opening is available, Twitter a patient to see if they could fill your appointment time.  Twitter your doc to let him/her know about schedule changes that would affect what s/he is doing right now.

And to get you started on Twitter, my Twitter name is “Mary_Pat_Whaley.”

Posted in: Learn This: Technology Answers, Social Media

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Monday Special: A Resource for Your Most Valuable Resource – You

What have you done for your career lately?  Are you comfortable in your current job?  Are you happy?  Happy with your income?  Happy with your level of challenge?  What would you do if you lost your job tomorrow?

Do yourself a favor and invest a little time in your future.

At WordCamp recently, Lorelle VonFossen said “You need to think about having a digital presence.”

I suggest that signing up with LinkedIn (free) and building your online presence is a good start.  LinkedIn could be called the business version of FaceBook although many people use FaceBook as their business networking tool.  The general consensus is that for business LinkedIn is probably the most-used (25 million people) and best-known of the social networking websites.  Social networking uses the theory that we’re all connected to each other through those we know and that every other person on the Earth is connected by six other people, thus the term you’ve heard “six degrees of separation.”  You use these connections to network and meet people, ask and answer questions, and possibly, find jobs.

There’s a lot to completing your LinkedIn online profile, but you don’t have to do at all at one time.  I think my LinkedIn profile is about 75% complete and I’ve been working on it for a couple of months.  Take your time, do it right, then start to look into joining some LinkedIn groups to see what people are talking about.  The trick is not to get hundreds of people in your network (unless you’re a recruiter), but to build authentic relationships with people you think well of.

If you’re not sure what social networking can do for you, check out these articles:

Jobseekers are Beginning to Favor Social Networking Over Online Career Sites to Find Jobs

The Social Network as a Career Safety Net


Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Leadership, Memes

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