Showing posts with label marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marketing. Show all posts

July 25, 2013

Two New Beta Provider Data Releases

This summer has seen one spectacular new release of healthcare provider data from CarePrecise already, and a second is on the way. The first one, released just a week ago, is already finding its way into EMR pre-population, new web apps, OpenPayments and HIE applications.

The Extended Professional, Group & Hospital(TM) dataset extends CarePrecise's flagship master database, CarePrecise Access Complete (CPAC), with verified group practice data for physicians and other providers, their hospital affiliations, medical schools and graduation years. The EPGH's Extended Hospital table provides an unduplicated list of all U.S. acute care, VA, children's and critical access hospitals that bill Medicare (essentially all of these hospital types bill Medicare, so this list is nearly complete; link it to hospital data in the CPAC, and you've got everything -- a more complete, up-to-date and verified database of physicians than the American Medical Association's list at a small fraction of the cost... plus more than 3 million other healthcare providers not included in the AMA data.

The EPGH has only been released in beta so far, and in beta it is being distributed to all current CPAC subscribers free of charge through September 2013. The EPGH/CPAC bundle is the only commercially available merged database of NPPES, LEIE, PECOS, PhysicianCompare and HospitalCompare data, and it contains all of the "hooks" necessary to link to CMS hospital quality data and forthcoming physician quality data.

Coming next is the beta release of CP ProCase(TM), a proper-case version of the name, mailing address and practice address in CPAC, for all approximately 4 million records. Using CPAC data for marketing and other communications will be easier and more professional looking. As with the EPGH dataset, the ProCase add-on will be available bundled with CPAC, and not separately.

Planned beta release of CP ProCase will coincide with the August 2013 CPAC update release. As with EPGH, ProCase will be distributed as a free beta for evaluation to all current CPAC subscribers. (Betas are not available on single download purchasers.)

And, as if that weren't enough, our popular software, CP ListMaker, is undergoing a rebuild to add EPGH functionality. (Proper casing is already a feature of CP ListMaker.) The new version -- 4.01 -- will sport new output queries that include the new extended data linked to list outputs, completely configurable to use the new information. Release date for CP ListMaker v4.01 is scheduled to coincide with the August CPAC data release.

Questions about the new products? Call your CarePrecise sales representative at (877) 782-2294.

January 18, 2013

Surprise: You May Now Be Liable Under HIPAA

When the HIPAA privacy rule first went into effect, business associates of hospitals, physicians, etc. didn't have to worry about getting in trouble for releasing data in ways that violate patients' privacy.

No more.

In light of several years of clumsy handling of patient data by contractors and employees, it's perhaps not surprising that HHS is changing the rules to extend the strict HIPAA privacy rules -- and penalties for violations -- to external vendors and IT communities.

If you work in any way with patients' medical data -- whether as a data processor, consultant, IT contractor, EHR installer, whatever -- you'd better get familiar with the new rule that goes into effect March 26. It clarifies when breaches need to be reported to the Office for Civil Rights, scraps the old standards for the use of patient-identifiable data for marketing and fundraising purposes, and expands direct liability under the law to so-called “business associates” of HIPAA-covered entities.

Perhaps equally interesting is that patients once again will have the right to limit release of treatment records to insurance companies if they paid out-of-pocket on that treatment. Look out for problems and potential fines related to goof-ups related to granting access to the wrong business partners on the wrong data. Greatly increased penalties for privacy and security violations under the ARRA are explained in the new ruling.

Read the HHS news release.
Read the rule in the federal register (you've still got time to comment).

March 28, 2012

5,000th Application Milestone

In April, 2012, CarePrecise will celebrate having built and released our 5,000th database application and version release! Actually, we will have released 5,049 (and maybe more) separate software applications, including state-by-state NPIdentify Desktop apps, CarePrecise Access sets, customized CarePrecise Select sets, CP ListMaker version upgrades, custom applications, and specialized MEDICAlistings marketing lists. In all, we will have distributed software and datasets representing nearly a terabyte of data and code since 2008. We're a privately held company and we don't release financials or our exact number of users, but we can say that it's between 500 and 1,000. And we love every single one!

October 10, 2011

Phone Messaging: New Channel to Physicians

It's wildly hit-and-miss -- much like email spam -- but marketers are increasingly using bulk text messaging to penetrate the armor cladding of physician offices. And it's a wide open opportunity; physician office phone numbers are openly published, unlike email addresses. Fax numbers are available too (CarePrecise provider data includes both phone and fax numbers, up to four numbers per record, and we know that it is widely used for marketing to physicians), but "faxpam" doesn't have the same high-tech glamor. Unlike a fax broadcast, text messaging allows marketers to embed a live link to a web landing page, as well as an instantly accessible means for recipients to opt out, making bulk SMS marketing just a little bit more respectable. (Ever tried to get a faxpammer to stop? Ha!)

So what's the difference between bulk SMS cold-calling and plain old spam? Not much, except that it's newer and less fraught with sleaze. And here's something more: It's not free, so spammers can't just set up a computer and start sending 100 million spam messages a day at essentially no cost. Text messaging to phones requires that you have an SMS gateway, or an account with a service provider who has one. These are available to bulk senders, but at a price. Okay, it's not exactly postage, but it's at least a price.

Among the numerous offerings for bulk SMS gateway and software services are Mobomix and TXTwire. Both offer essentially unlimited sending with premium accounts, but both enforce opt-in requirements. That is, you can't just upload a database of phone numbers, such as the 5 million or so in the CarePrecise database, and start texting. Instead, these services require that you are sending only to your own customers or others who have explicitly said, "Yeah, okay, text me spam."

Of course, there's always a workaround. Another company, SMScountry, offers an Excel plug in that lets you send personalized text messages. While they have a similar anti-spam policy, the way the system works would make it difficult to police. As with all bulk SMS systems, it isn't particularly easy for a recipient to contact the carrier to complain. The carrier backbone for SMS is a bit primitive compared with that of email, and there are fewer hooks for filtering messages by the carriers, should they ever want to do what ISPs are doing about email spam. It's pretty much up to the owner of the gateway.

In the war between marketers and physicians, both sides escalate as new weapons or defenses arise. A fax isn't likely to ever see a doctor's spectacles, but that same unreachable physician isn't really that unreachable if you can get his email address or phone number. Naturally, it helps to have her mobile number rather than just the office phone, for obvious reasons. But if you've got a product to sell to docs, any opening is a huge gaping hole, and, even if the text message gets converted to a computer-voiced voice mail message, and, even if only the smallest percentage reach a bona fide phyz, maybe paying $60 a month for a bulk gateway account with few limits sounds good to you. And a good many of those published numbers are cell phones, some portion of them presumably reaching right into a doctor's pocket.

Bulk SMS has its Whitehat side, of course. Services that allow you to enter your customers' account info and send text billing notices, patient appointment reminders, among a host of other applications, are opening up the commercial use of phone messaging. I opted in for a J.C. Penney's coupon texting service, and I use it.

But let's say you've got a nice big customer list, folks who freely gave you their phone numbers (long before the advent of SMSpam, but still...). Can you send em all a coupon, or a new product announcement, or an offer of a free EHR assessment? I want to say no, but we send these same customers more-or-less "unsolicited" email, at least in the sense that they never explicitely said "Send me your coupons," but something more like "Send me product update notices via your monthly newsletter." That phone number was optional, right? Houston, we have achieved opt-in.

Certain advantages of smartphones, such as the ability to blacklist messagers, are a helpful control. The barriers to entry are currently very high for an SMSpammer who wants to set up his own unrestricted gateway, so he'll be using these third party services and, perhaps, have to behave himself. But look for text marketing to grow wildly in the near future.

Check out our page on Marketing to Healthcare Providers.

June 9, 2011

Flaw in CMS Logic Causes Cost

When the NPI Final Rule (and all of its after-final rules) created the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System, there were many unknowns: Which datapoints would be released for the industry to use? loomed large. But another issue has come home to roost.

Organizations (Type 2 providers under the rule) were permitted to have as many NPI numbers as they liked, and they could structure their assignment of NPIs any which way. For instance, one hospital might get separate NPI numbers for each of its business units, while another got and NPI for each of its physical locations, another for each of the cluster of corporations, while some clever hospitals got an NPI for each reimbursement channel. And then of course, some hospitals got just one.

No problem with that -- the various business optimization strategies are interesting to observe, and surely make sense in their various contexts. The problem is that there is no primary NPI number per hospital or health system. That is to say, there is no way to know from the NPPES records which if any of the NPI records is a parent, and which is a child. Oh, of course, an army of human analysts can pore over the records and find 37 hospital NPI records each identifying, say, Mayonaise Health System as its parent. But a computer finds that task a bit difficult, since it will find many variations in the records, e.g.,
  • Mayonaise Hospital
  • Mayonaise Health System
  • Mayo Hospital
  • Mayo Hospitals
  • Mayonaise Hospitals
  • Miracle Whip Health
  • and on an on
Thus, it becomes essentially impossible to say how many hospitals there are, even though we are looking at the complete set of federal records on hospitals. Had there been a primary or master NPI required for each General acute care hospital -- regardless of how many business units and other NPIs are involved, it would be possible to perform much more significant research on hospital service areas, densities, availability of care, duplication of services, and much more. (We've just started putting state-by-state physician and hospital counts on our home page at, but for now, we are able only to show the total of all hospital records -- 29,946 at present -- which is far more than the roughly 5,000 actual hospitals to whom all those records belong.)

The coyness built into the NPPES was more or less deliberate. American hospitals are a contentious lot, engaging in constant competition, and they did not want any more known about them than absolutely necessary. Coy data costs everyone money, and adds opacity to the healthcare system. Still, with the HospitalCompare project and our subsequent mining of all of these data sources, much can be learned, and the reach of each hospital organization can ultimately be published. Stay tuned.

March 8, 2011

Patients Want Their Providers Online

The second-annual study from Intuit Health, the Health Care Check-Up Survey, found that 73% of Americans surveyed would use secure online tools to access lab results, request appointments, pay medical bills, and communicate with their doctor's office. CarePrecise began building web portals for healthcare providers a few years ago, and has seen a rise in interest from providers, who want to be able to point patients to written information in the controlled environment of their websites. Providers are also looking at adding scheduling applications, and some are participating in PHRs (patient health record portals). Read the Information Week article.

December 17, 2010

Marketing: Top 5 Web Trends for 2011

Even in this economy, price competition isn't the answer. It can eviscerate the bottom line, and associates our brand with bottom feeders.  Instead, in 2011 marketers will be learning to give something else to our prospects and customers.  Social media, content push, convergence, social objects and service -- these five emerging trends are covered in an article on, and I hope you'll read it. But here's the gist:
  1. Social Media. No, it's not Socialism. Yet. But the communities aggregated by Facebook are the 2011 equivalent of proletariat power. No longer are our gripes and kudos heard by only a few co-workers in the lunchroom, but by hundreds or thousands of our closest friends. And their closest friends. And their closest friends. B2B and B2C marketers are both learning the power of chatter. While waiting for the curtain to rise at a recent entertainment event, audience members all seemed to sort-of know one another. In clusters around the room, it became clear that almost all 150 or so attendees had responded to a Facebook invitation.
  2. Content Still Rules, but... We've all learned that developing rich online content is key to getting traffic and building credibility with our market. But much of that content just sits there. We've done the Email Newsletter thing, to push content out to our community. Tweets are the next step, using brief and much more frequent touches to keep our customers and prospects close. And tweets don't get your email domain blacklisted.
  3. Converge and Hybridize. There's the web site. And then there's the Facebook page. It's time to pull them together in a seamless environment that makes interaction integral to the web experience of all your visitors. And it's more than just putting an F button on your home page. (What? You still don't have an F button on your home page?)
  4. Widgets and Web Tools and Mascots - Oh, My! They're called social objects -- little bundles of clever or cute or useful that get picked up and sent around and pinned to other people's pages. Maybe it's a relevant cartoon or really funky-looking lolcat, or a widget that lets your visitors grab a chunk of your content for their own site or Facebook page. The point is to get other people giving your stuff away for you, just like the sample lady at the grocery store. Only for free; once you've covered development costs, that is.
  5. Serving is the New Selling. I can remember the exact day that I decided to start giving extreme customer service. It was just after I'd had a great customer service experience myself, with a vendor that made such an impression on me that I've stuck with them ever since -- three years now. It costs me absolutely nothing to make every customer feel smart, attractive, rich, famous and wanted. The actual content of a service event does use up a little more time, and sometimes I even make a follow-up call (which really blows their minds). But the first result is that I love doing it, and service events have become a true joy, and the ultimate result is that the bottom line proves that it works for the customers, too. Now, instead of spending time calling on leads, I spend my time with customers -- including the ones who are just downloading the freebies or have questions. I still have to get the word out, of course, but I can put more resources into direct mail and web advertising designed just to start a conversation. We're entering an age of smarter selling that's all about creating relevance and utility for our prospects and customers, and we're leaving the age of selling "lifestyles." Now, when we get that first contact, we have to listen for the person's existing patterns, to learn how we can help them get more value from the way they are already doing business, or living their lives. It's not about generating warm fuzzies, but about delivering real value -- the stuff that our price-competing competitors don't have any of.
Do these five ideas all seem to run together? Naturally. Social media has helped to evolve our understanding of content and service. We're learning to be there for our markets, in every sense of that expression, rather than driving the markets to us.

October 13, 2010

Marketing: Coupons For Healthcare

Healthcare providers are getting into social marketing, using newer electronic content forms to reach new patients. For their part, consumers don't see much of a problem cashing in a coupon with an unknown provider, at least for some types of procedure.
Responding to a promotion for optometrist and optician services, one customer says that "The timing was right so I jumped on it," referring to an offer through Groupon, a daily coupon emailed to tens of thousands of people in the Baltimore region and millions more nationwide. "I'd be more cautious about laser surgery or hair removal. That would take more research. But this worked out..." Groupon's "Deal of the Day" targets consumers who sign up for the daily offers, which tend to promote restaurants, hotels, spas, and the like. But healthcare providers are gradually learning to use the new promotional venue, and with good results reported so far. I myself wear glasses -- glasses that I purchased through a coupon from a provider I had never visited before. Read an article in the Baltimore Sun...