Online reviews: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that asking patients to write them after their procedures can be awkward and uncomfortable for all concerned.
For members of the RealSelf doctor community, it doesn’t have to be that way with the launch of Patient Engage, a new service that lets doctors enjoy the benefits of online reviews — great word of mouth, improved SEO and more leads — without the hassle of soliciting them or running afoul of HIPAA regulations.
The service makes it easy to ask patients to share their experiences with the RealSelf community in 2 ways:
Via your RealSelf dashboard: When you enter a patient’s email address to Patient Engage, we’ll send them an email on your behalf, inviting them to share their experience. Adding this step to your post-op marketing process provides consistent additions to your patient review library.
Via your website: Patient Engage also includes access to a website widget that allows your patients to write a review for your RealSelf profile directly from your website. Your webmaster or web vendor can easily add the widget by copying and pasting the html code found in the Patient Engage tool.
Using Patient Engage to generate reviews is a great way to build traffic while maintaining compliance with HIPAA regulations:
The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects most “individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or medium, whether electronic, on paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information protected health information (PHI). Protected health information is information, including demographic information, which relates to:
- the individual’s past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition,
- the provision of health care to the individual, or
- the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual, and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe can be used to identify the individual. Protected health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number) when they can be associated with the health information listed above.
Protected health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number) when they can be associated with the health information listed above. [But] identifying information alone, such as personal names, residential addresses, or phone numbers, would not necessarily be designated as PHI.
Patient Engage ensures compliance with HIPAA guidelines because RealSelf never sees any patient-doctor communication or information: The email addresses that doctors put into Patient Engage are only used for the email that is sent to request the review and any replies from the patient are routed to go directly to the doctor’s preferred email address.
(Note: Once the patient submits their review, they have to accept RealSelf’s Terms of Service. Until they accept these terms, they do not have a RealSelf account and will not receive other communication from us.)
Of course, all of the above is predicated on the bedrock principle that doctors still need to get permission from patients to a) send them emails in the first place and b) share their email addresses with other appropriate parties.
Lay that (HIPAA-compliant) foundation and when it comes to reviews, Patient Engage will do the rest.