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Medical Practice Business And Marketing Articles

Article #24 - Aug. 2011

“QR Codes—Protecting Patient’s
Medical Information”

This communication process enables you to provide secure
medical information to patients.

Large numbers of doctors, supposedly about 30%, send email messages now to communicate with their patients. They do it while understanding the possibility of inadvertently revealing private medical information about their patients that they swore never to reveal. Granted, the risk of being caught is rather remote, and the risk of being prosecuted for it, even less. But, it only takes one incident to ruin a medical practice.

The saving grace is that large numbers of patients are highly receptive of email communications with their doctors and healthcare providers because of the ease at which they are able to remain in close contact about their medical problems. Phone lines are frequently busy, calls get dropped or cut off, voice mail is usually ignored, and can take multiple calls to the provider to get them on the line.

Email use from doctors to patients saves each person time, money, and delays. Email is cost free, almost instantly delivered, and can be managed at a convenient time. When the mind is focused, all communication is more reliable and thorough in resolving issues and supplying advice. Everyone knows that... I think.

The reality is that there must be a better way to protect a patient’s medical information and at the same time increase the protection of doctors against unexpectedly exposing private medical information. As we all know in the practice of medicine a patient will usually be quite amenable to situations, in spite of the risks, up until the time that something bad happens to
them... and are then your worst enemy.

What is a QR Code and how does it work?

The QR Code (Quick Response Codes) was created in Japan over a decade ago by a subsidiary of Toyota as a way of identifying car engines. It’s a derivative of a 2D bar code, which has advanced applications useful in medical practice marketing and guiding patient’s to where you want them to go—to something you want them to read, know about, take action on, or educate them concerning a medical issue.

Presently, you send them a URL link to click on to get this information you have on your website—as long as a patient is sitting at their desktop computer or laptop PC. Soon mobile devices will be able to this as well.

The unique feature is that this code is applicable to mobile new smartphone devices where a patient’s access to the medical information is available anywhere, anytime. Most of the newest smartphones already have a QR Code reader built into the mobile device. Another unusual aspect of this code system is that it’s free, no licensing required. 

When the patient receives the QR Code image from you, they access the “reader” application in the phone, then scan the code image (below). The code can contain up to 4,200 alphanumeric characters in the message you are sending to the Patient.
QR image displayed
You simply go the QR Code Generator (Google this phrase to see them) online, type out the message, and send it.  A doctor or other healthcare provider can customize the code image to your own design and colors, link to online content by encoding complete sentences, or even the content on your business card.
     Patients can scan the code and download your business card onto their phone without having to do it manually. You can have a go at it to see how it works by clicking here:[text-or-URL] to get your QR Code (multiple QR sites do the same).

There are two things you must have to make all this work properly...

1. A mobile phone with a camera and Internet
    connectivity (even PDA’s)

2. A QR Code Reader (usually built into the mobile
    phone—can be obtained online and downloaded to
    the phone). Some “Readers” only work on specific
    iphones or android phones.

Depending on the software, it may take 30 to 40 seconds to decode the information behind the code. If it’s a URL, then the Reader will open your browser and let you surf the mobile website it links to. You can even write an email or message text to your patient using this process. Since there are over 53 million smartphones out there already, you can easily understand
the impact it can make for your medical practice.

Another two aspects of using this QR Code system to help in marketing your medical practice business is that it’s free and limitless. The usual standard ads and promotions are limited to time and space. There’s only so much information you can put on a postcard, newspaper ad, radio announcement, magazine ads, DVDs, and etc.

With this code you can get your patients or customers to your website, blog, articles, social media profiles, personal Facebook page, and put the code right on your business cards. Remember to be directing a patient to a specific bit of information they need, not to your whole website where they are wondering why you sent them there.

QR Codes all follow the same technical specifications in the ISO-18004 standard and extend anywhere in the world.

Physician advantages of QR Codes for medical practice marketing...  

1. Profile Images-- Since agencies are now using face profiles found on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites to match to criminal actions, lost children, and other identification parameters, it’s better to place a QR Code image on your profiles there, which can then be scanned and a patient sent to a video message you have for them.

2. Signature Files-- Replace you signature on emails, forum posts, with the QR Code instead.

3. Replace Your DVDs-- They are expensive to print and send—so use the QR Code to redirect patients or customers to your “special video message” online DVD.

4. Postcard Marketing-- Add the QR Code to all postcards sent to patients. It enables you to give them much more information and details about your medical practice business and who you are as a doctor while recruiting new patients. Saves money and increases attention and compliance.

5. Author Bio’s-- At the end of blogs or articles you write, include a QR Code. It drives people to the resources you want them to respond to.

6. Special Restricted Access-- You may have a special offer that you want to restrict to a certain category of patient in your medical practice. Only patients who get the offer are those who scan the QR Code and are sent to the offer page.

7. Dominate Image Search-- Grab keywords you wish to rank for on search engines, make QR Images with those keywords attached and imbedded. When people search online the search engines send that person to your image, which in turn, when scanned with their mobile phone camera, redirects them to your website or other significant element you are promoting. It’s a marketing tactic called “placement.”

Marketing by businesses is rapidly moving to mobile devices. Undoubtedly, this surge of marketing into the world of busy people who are demanding access to most everything via their smart phones, will once more, change the direction of medical practice marketing. All doctor’s need to do is move patient communications from emails to smart phones and start now before saturation of the market occurs.

The author, Curt Graham, is a highly experienced business and marketing expert, copywriter, and entrepreneur who has been published in various media over 50 years while in medical practice and after.
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