Archive for month: April, 2017

What PCI Compliance Really Means for Merchants

Categories: Articles

WhatPCIComplianceReallyMeansForMerchantsCompliance rules are in place to help the players in the merchant services industry reduce the frequency and impact of card-related data breaches.  These players include credit card issuers, acquirers, processors, and merchants.  Each has a role to help maintain the security and integrity of credit card transactions and help prevent fraud that adds an enormous expense to all players.

Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance has been a struggle for many merchants.  Recent changes have stated that Level 4 merchants may only use PCI-certified qualified integrators and resellers (QIRs) for point-of-sale (POS) applications and must conduct annual PCI compliance assessments.  PCI Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQs) have been more common for merchants in recently years, but QIRs is a new element for merchants to understand.

Level 4 merchants can generally be classified as ‘small business merchants’ and defined as merchants processing fewer than 20,000 transactions a year or under $1 million annually in volume.  Small businesses have fewer resources and time to focus on preventing credit card fraud.  Those that use point-of-sale (POS) systems for card processing are a target of hackers attempting to compromise payment data.  Often the security gap occurs in remote access that integrators and resellers use to provide monitoring and shared remote access IDs without regular password changes. The PCI QIR program has been designed to improve security by proper configuration and implementation of payment applications, thus mitigating the risk of a hacker gaining access to the payment data.

The compliance questionnaire has been around for several years, and merchants are becoming more familiar with this step.  The self-assessment questionnaire is usually provided by a third-party and guides the merchant through several questions about their payment processing.  First, the SAQ determines what methods a merchant uses to accept credit card payments (payment terminal, virtual terminal, mobile…) Then, the SAQ continues with questions to confirm the merchant is following best practices in each environment to reduce credit card fraud and security breaches.  Additionally, if the merchant processes through the internet, a quarterly vulnerability scan should be run on the environment to ensure protection from outside sources. The scan should be from an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) and is often provided by the third-party providing the self-assessment questionnaire.

Merchants may view the PCI Compliance SAQ and scan to be more of an annoyance and just something to mark of the checklist.  But, merchants should take their time going through the process and be sure to set up the policies and procedures to protect the security of their environment. By documenting the policies and keeping them up to date, the merchant has them available for employees for training and understand the steps to take if a problem arises. Many of the items noted to protect card data security are also applicable to overall security for the merchant, i.e. updating vendor releases, computer security patches, and changing passwords.

Jennifer Autian is the founder of TCA Business Solutions and an independent representative of merchant services.  To learn more about PCI Compliance for merchants or explore other payment processing options, connect with her at 678-523-8760 or by email at Jennifer@tcabiz.com.

Curating Content Keeps You Engaged

Categories: Articles

CuratingContentKeepsYouEngagedCurating quality content is one of the most effective ways to keep your patients engaged and add value to your relationship. And the best part is that it doesn’t need to take a lot time to show them you know and care about their needs.

Most content curators – practices or businesses or bloggers – create their own content from a variety of sources, typically something they’ve read, seen or heard on the internet. The most common way to share whatever you’re curating is to use a link to the article, video clip, podcast…whatever, and then add your commentary.

Your commentary is the key to your success. Instead of just sharing information, you’re giving it depth, and that’s what makes it “curated.” You are telling your community why you believe this information is important for them – and anyone they know who has that same interest or need. Your knowledge and perspective add value. Merely sharing a link is not really curating content.

Content to curate can come from anywhere. If you provide healthcare services, for example, you are likely to find information about the conditions you treat – say a new drug that your patients might learn about from a TV ad – or some study that makes news. You can share that information and tell your patients what you believe are the strong truths – or strong myths – about the article you are citing and passing along. By the way, it doesn’t need to be an article from a journal, newspaper or general magazine. It can be a TV news clip, a radio news clip, something from a newsletter, a podcast…

The same idea can apply to law firms, accounting firms and financial planners, though you should always be mindful of professional standards and rules and regulations that govern your communications with clients.

If you have a consumer business, you can look at all sorts of content. If you have a restaurant or food-related business, you might want to talk about seasonal items or pass along recipes that relate to the customers you want to attract. If you have a clothing store, you’ll to pass along fashion trends and how they relate to your customers (and your inventory). An auto-parts store can find a wealth of seasonal and year-round tips to pass along. Just add value and a personal touch. You only need a few sentences or a few paragraphs to put your perspective on it.

Once you have your content, you have numerous, highly interconnected channels to get the word out:

  • Post it as a blog on your website – and if it’s appropriate, refer readers to a specific page on your site so they can take some specific action. One advantage to a blog post is that you can cite multiple sources in one place. This will give your readers more perspective and let them know you do your homework when you tell them something.
  • Post a link to the curated content with your own very short comment on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media you use.
  • Send an eblast to your customer/client list that includes the link and why you believe it’s important to them. You can also provide a call to action and direct them to a specific page on your website.
  • Compile your blogs into a monthly newsletter that you can also post on your website. If you have links to earlier blogs or newsletters, that will help you reinforce your messages – and keep readers on your site longer.

 

We highly encourage you to be yourself when you curate content, but maintain your professionalism:

  • Provide accurate links and attribution for all of the information you pass along.
  • Make sure you spell all words correctly and have good syntax – because nothing discredits you faster than sloppiness or confusion about what you’re saying.

 

You can form a partnership with NicheLabs for curating content. You know what’s important to tell your patients – and why. We know how to prepare and distribute your message across all communications channels, and we can act as your second set of eyes to make sure your message is on point and all words are spelled correctly.

We can help you with the big picture, too, by developing an overall marketing strategy that ties your content curation to your website, SEO and all channels of marketing communications. Call us at 888-978-9254, or send us an email using our website contact form. An expanded website, news coverage, advertising and a granular SEO program can help expand your universe. We love to talk about marketing, best practices for SEO programs, brand messaging and content strategy.

Healthier Healthcare Marketing Starts with Your Website

Categories: Articles

HealthierHealthcareMarketing

Healthcare providers and their patients rely on numbers to measure their health. Blood pressure, cholesterol levels, sugar levels, red blood cell counts, etc. are compiled to assemble a snapshot of a person’s condition to determine a path toward better health.

Healthcare marketing relies on numbers, too. An oft-cited study by the Pew Research Center shows that 77 percent of all health inquiries begin at a search engine, usually through one of the major search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, and 72 percent of internet users claim to have looked online for health information during the course of a year. In addition, some 40 percent of the advice they get online comes from social media, where people place a lot of their trust. As a result, some 80 percent of the people have already made up their minds to use a specific practice by the time they call for an appointment. 

Based on the numbers, our marketing diagnosis is that you need a strong SEO program to get patients to your website. Then, you must complement your SEO with a website that conveys the critical information patients need to contact you.

As marketers, we believe a good website needs these three elements:

  1. Quality Content: Your challenge here is to be reassuring and welcoming while displaying your technical expertise. Prospective patients – and even current patients seeking more information – want to know you are expert, and that means your copy needs to include all the “key terminology” backed up with explanations to ensure they understand what you’re talking about. When you can provide information that makes them feel comfortable in your knowledge and approach to their care, it helps move them closer to deciding to contact you. Links to additional information, such as other articles for them to read or videos, are good, but make sure they are relevant and that the linking information is still good. Those providers can pull info from their websites at any time, and they can contain links to other information that might not be good for your relationship with a patient. Google rates websites on the quality of their content.
  1. Clear Navigation: Make sure your website navigation tools lead visitors quickly to the information they want. People look for healthcare advice or information because they have an issue of great concern. You’ll earn their confidence by helping them find the information they want in one or two clicks, and it will encourage them to stay on your site and key pages for a longer time. That will also contribute to higher rankings.
  1. Mobile Friendly: With increasing numbers of searches being done on mobile phones or tablets, you must have a “responsive” website, one that automatically recognizes and adapts to a mobile device. The net result is easier reading and navigation. There is a general trend for researching information across the internet as well, and various analytical tools can help you learn the best ways to reach your target market through mobile devices. A responsive website goes beyond marketing. It can make it easier for patients to provide you with information in advance of a visit, but you must make sure your website complies with various regulations to protect privacy.

These three elements will also contribute to your success in SEO (search engine optimization). The major considers all of them as part of its ranking process, and the higher you score, the better your chance of ending higher up in search results. Social media activity, such as blogging, tweeting and Facebook, can also increase traffic to your website, and if you score high in the three quality elements plus pure traffic, you have a better opportunity to increase your number of patients.

In addition to marketing, we would be remiss if we did not remind you that websites and all forms of electronic communication involve highly sensitive personal information. To make the best use of the internet, you need to make sure patient information is kept secure from hackers. In most cases, failure to take proper security measures carries stiff fines and other legal penalties.

Creating and managing a website and SEO requires a lot of upfront work and constant attention – just as with starting and strengthening a relationship. If the thought of it all gives you a headache, our advice is: take two aspirin and call us. We can help you design and deploy a program and monitor and update it to maximize your online presence and keep you ahead of your competitors. Call us at 888-978-9254, or send us an email using our website contact form. An expanded website, news coverage, advertising and a granular SEO program can help expand your universe. We love to talk about marketing, best practices for SEO programs, brand messaging and content strategy.

Practice Manager of the Month

Categories: Practice Manager of the Month

StephanieEthridgeStephanie Ethridge
Practice Administrator, Sandy Springs Internal Medicine

Stephanie Ethridge is the Practice Administrator at Sandy Springs Internal Medicine. Stephanie has been at Sandy Springs Internal Medicine for over 15 years.  She started as a patient account rep, and then moved to temporarily fill the Practice Administrator role, and she made it her own and kept the role.  Sandy Springs Internal Medicine is a private medical practice focused on higher standards and better care.  Eleven years ago, SSIM was one of the first practices to move to concierge medicine and is still one of the largest in the space.  There are seven physicians, 31 full time employees, and resides in a 10,000 square foot space.

Stephanie has a BA in management and managed in company prior to joining the healthcare industry.  In working in her current role, she enjoys most the ability to make a difference.  Her work touches the patients, staff, and doctors, and she wears many hats as a Practice Administrator.  Her first project when she took the role was to remodel the entire office while still working and maintaining the office day to day.  As she says, the key is to step in and do what needs to be done, even if that means unclogging a sink before maintenance can get there.

Some tips that Stephanie would like to share with colleagues (there’s a gazillion) is first to listen more than you talk.  Sometimes even she struggles with this one, but we have one mouth and two ears so remember to listen first.  There is always a moving target, so it’s important to be ready to adapt, be flexible, and be ready for change.  She notices this is a struggle with some people.  IT is certainly one of the areas that are constantly changing and important to stay ahead of the curve.  Stephanie stays on top of things by reaching out to experts in their fields for accounting, legal, IT.  She knows it’s always important to seek help with those with experience and knowledge.  She also utilizes the posting/forum boards through MGMA North Fulton.

Stephanie recently attended a staff meeting where Bert Thornton, president/CEO of Waffle House, spoke.  She commented that he was full of wisdom, knowledge, and experience.  The key phrase that stuck with her, “You can’t learn anything until you are ready.”  While reflecting on these words, she has found it to be true for work and life in general.  It’s a reminder to be open, receptive, and willing to learn.

Dr. Kelly Ahn provided a note on behalf of the seven physicians at Sandy Springs Internal Medicine.  He states, “I cannot think of a position more challenging than Practice Administrator of an independent, private medical practice of seven physicians. Balancing the needs and wants of seven “bosses” with seven different personalities is impossible; however, Stephanie achieves the impossible to lead the largest independent concierge medical practice in Georgia.”

Outside of work, Stephanie most enjoys being a mom.  She likes to travel but doesn’t get to do it enough.  She recently went on a Disney cruise saying, “They know how to do everything. So well planned out.”  She enjoys cooking and trying to learn more and try new good, fresh, health food.  She recently joined a coop in the neighborhood to have fresh fruits and vegetables.  She says they are so much better to when you get the real taste.  There really is a significant different.

Stephanie Ethridge was nominated by Chris Jann of Medicus Solutions.  She met Chris shortly after she took on the Practice Administrator role.  He and his firm were a recommendation from another practice, and she classifies it as one of the best decisions. Chris and Medicus Solutions has helped them transform and rebuild their network to have it be what it needs to do these days – consistent, reliable, and an extension of the business.  She can reach out to Medicus and know they are there.  She has recommended them several times to others.

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