Using QR Codes to Improve Patient Compliance

Patient compliance isn't always as easy as taking a pill.  The more ways you can reinforce care compliance with your patients, the better off you both will be.
Patient compliance isn’t always as easy as taking a pill. The more ways you can reinforce care compliance with your patients, the better off you both will be.

We all know the drill.  “Bob” gets sent home from the doctor’s office or the hospital with a list of prescriptions and care instructions to manage their condition.  The condition among “Bobs” may vary, but one thing remains the same with patients across the country — convincing them to comply with their care regimen is an ongoing challenge for both the clinician and for you as their supply/equipment provider.

Reinforcement is key to patient compliance, meaning you have to keep reminding people to follow directions, follow their care plan and follow up with their monthly orders.  No easy task, I agree.

The good news is, a simple technology known as a “QR code” can help you drive those messages home to your customers on a daily basis.  QR codes are one of the most interesting technology advances of late, due to their ease of use and the many ways you can apply them to share information with consumers.

What is a QR code?

QR codes aren’t new. I’m sure you’ve already seen them on the pages of mainstream magazines.  The QR stands for “Quick Response”. 

Try it! Scan this QSR code above to see a video about a discreet new intermittent catheter for men.
Try it! Scan this QSR code above to see a video about a discreet new intermittent catheter for men.

Quick Response Codes are a type of barcode that were first designed in Japan for the automotive industry.  These codes became popular in the mainstream because they can store more information than the standard barcodes you see on grocery products or other boxed goods.

Today, QR codes have become commonplace in consumer advertising and packaging, because the popularity of smartphones “has put a barcode reader in everyone’s pocket for the first time.” [Source]

With their rising popularity and increasing use, QR codes can be a key component of your e-marketing strategy without adding significant costs to your budget.  {i.e. Free is Good!}

I first heard about them four years ago from a good friend who works in the outdoors sports industry! About the same time that he and I discussed ways US retailers were beginning to use these square icons to promote sporting goods, I also saw an article about a giant QR code on display in the middle of London.

A major British entertainment company had taken out a 100-foot-tall billboard with nothing but a QR code on it, sparking the curiosity of Londoners who weren’t quite sure exactly what that odd-looking box meant.  See a video explaining the billboard and QR codes here. The message held within the mysterious black box was simple — it was advertising a movie titled 28 Weeks Later: “It’s back on DVD – September 10th.”

Around the same time, the craze for QR codes kicked off across Europe. Not surprisingly, as QR codes became popular in Europe prior to making their way across the Atlantic, European medical device manufacturers were the first in our industry to include them on the sides of product packaging.

Who is mostly likely to respond to a QR code?

Aren't you glad you don't need a keyboard on your cell phone anymore?
Aren’t you glad you don’t need a keyboard on your cell phone anymore?

According to eMarketer,  116 million cell phone owners in the US are currently browsing the internet using their mobile device. By 2016, eMarketer predicts that number will rise to a whopping 192 million people.

Smartphones have come a long way in advancing users’ accessibility to online applications. Nowadays, it’s almost a competition among friends to share the latest apps and sites they use via their phones.

Just for giggles – here’s a look at some of the worst cell phones ever designed.  Did you ever own one of these??

Bottom Line: As more people of all ages are perusing the internet via their cell phone, the response rate to QR codes is only going to increase.  Keep in mind too, if you are utilizing text messaging and email campaigns to drive customer reorders and other communication, you’ve already created a mobile audience for your business or product-specific QR codes.

How can a health care provider use QR codes to improve patient compliance?

You probably already have examples of QR codes on packages in your inventory.  Many medical device manufacturers are now including them in their literature as well as instructions for use.  Have you thought about adding QR codes to your:

  • Catalog
  • Sample bags
  • In-Store displays
  • Promotional items for referral sources
  • The backside of your sales reps’ business cards

When you place QR codes on these materials, you can have them link viewers to all kinds of information, including:

  • Product instructions for use
  • Landing pages for prospective clients or referral sources
  • Downloadable PDFs like customized prescription forms
  • Product demos or special offers
  • Videos, videos and more videos

You’ve convinced me.  How do I begin?

This is the best part: You can create QR codes for free, in less than 30 seconds. Here’s a list of web sites that give you free tools to create your own QR codes.  Many offer free apps that you can download to scan QR codes too.

When using a QR generator tool, you simply drop in the URL that you want to have the code point to and save the picture that is created to your art files.  Then you can place that black square artwork into your email template, brochure layout or product packaging design.

1. Kaywa As the first western QR company, Kaywa has offered a free QR code generator on its site since 2006.

2. Quickqr: Quikqr allows you to quickly make free QR codes. Once you have generated your code you can save it, print it, email it, share it with your friends. Quikqr is 100% free and you don’t need to sign in.

3. BeQRious:  This site lets you generate many types of QR codes, including URL, Email address, Phone number, Text, Contact information, SMS, YouTube, Services, Graphical (to put an image into your QR code for a URL), and Google Maps.

4. BeeTagg: This QR Generator supports the following information types – URL, RSS feed, Contacts, YouTube and eBay.  Plus, with BeeTagg, you can shorten your long URL with the BeeTagg Optimize Size option, and generate other types of scan codes as well.

Need a hand with your first QR code initiative?
Give us a shout, we’re glad to help!

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Ways to Distribute Free Press Releases Online

One of the fastest ways to turn heads within your industry or competitive marketplace is to make the news. Everyone wants to land on Channel 9’s evening broadcast, but very few know how to do it successfully.

Here’s a few of my personal recommendations to help your press releases generate the media attention that you desire:

  1. Include a News Peg – that means, give a logical and newsworthy reason to justify why your press release is being distributed.
  2. Offer Samples – along with a means of obtaining them for media review, etc.
  3. A Picture Tells the Story Better than You Can – Be sure to have quality hi-res and low-res [web optimized] photos of the product, event, etc. on hand for use with the story.  Include the low-res “money shot” with your press release.
  4. Make It Easy For Folks To Learn More:  Be sure to include how can the product be purchased: in store, catalogs, online, by phone?  Price?  If it’s an event, how can people participate or donate?

For more advice on how to write a properly-formatted press release, click here.

Bottom Line: Getting your store, event, or products mentioned in print articles, online and on TV/radio shows will help spread the word to customers −− at a fraction of the cost of an advertising campaign.

And, the good news is, online press release distribution doesn’t have to cost you a dime.

Mashable [one of my favorite tech-info sites] published the following list of free press release distribution sites a few years ago [see source: http://mashable.com/2007/10/20/press-releases/], and I’ve used it as a handy resource for my own marketing programs.  My personal favorites in terms of reliability and speed are marked below with an asterisk.

Many of the sites listed below also offer functionality to help you create a newsroom on your business website – allowing you to update your site with breaking news as your press releases go out in real time with no IT involvement necessary.

List of 20+ free press release distribution sites:

*24-7PressRelease.com – Free release distribution with ad-support

*1888PressRelease.com – Free distribution, paid services gives you better placement and permanent archiving.

ClickPress.com – Distributes to sites like Google News and Topix.net, Gold level will also get you to sites like LexisNexis.

EcommWire.com – Focuses on ecommerce and requires you include an image, 3 keywords and links.

Express-Press-Release.com – Free distribution company with offices in 12 states.

Free-Press-Release.com – Easy press release distribution for free, more features for paid accounts.

Free-Press-Release-Center.info – Distributes your release, offers a web page with one keyword link to your site. Pro upgrade will give you three links, permanent archiving and more.

I-Newswire.com – Allows for free distribution to sites and search engines, premium membership differs only slightly in adding in graphics.

NewswireToday.com – All the usual free distribution tools, premium service includes logo, product picture and more.

http://www.newsrx.com/pr_login.php — Healthcare-focused, each month over three million readers globally view and download NewsRx articles and publications online.

PR.com – Not only will they distribute your press releases, but you can also set up a full company profile.

PR9.net – Ad supported press distribution site.

PR-Inside.com – European-based free press release distribution site.

PRBuzz.com – Completely free distribution to search engines, news sites, and blogs.

PRCompass.com – Distribute your press release with a free or paid version, others can vote it up ala Digg-style.

PRUrgent.com – Not only distributes your release, but attempts to teach you how to write one, and even offers downloadbale samples for you to work with.

Press-Base.com – Submit your release for free and get on their front page and the category of your choice.

PressAbout.com – A free press release service formatted as a blog.

PressMethod.com – Free press release distribution no matter what, but extra services based on the size of your contribution.

PRLeap.com – Free distribution to search engines, newswires, and RSS feeds. Fee based bumps get you better placement.

*PRLog.org – Free distribution to Google News and other other search engines.

TheOpenPress.com – Gives free distribution for plain formatted releases, fees for HTML-coded releases.

Pitch your story the right way, and you’ll have more media attention than you can handle!

Remember, you get what you pay for.  There are times when paid releases are a better choice than free.  For example, if your company is part of a merger, acquisition, or joint venture, you should spend the money and time to give extra attention to this high-level event.

However, would you want to pay several hundred dollars to share a press release announcing your sponsorship of a local charity walk?  Your choice, as you need to decide what events are historical and impactful enough to your business to merit a significant investment in publicity.

PR Newswire is a paid press release distribution service that can help you capture online audiences and gain traction in search engines. It offers both search-optimized press release hosting and distribution via PR Newswire’s online syndication network of more than 5,700 Web sites. Your news release will be seen on the Internet’s largest news sites (such as Yahoo!, Bizjournals.com and Marketwatch), niche and localized Web sites and news engines including Yahoo! News and Google News.

But it’s not cheap though, press release distribution packages on PR Newswire start at $399 per release.  So make your dollars count and choose your paid-promotion opportunities wisely.

Need a hand with your next media campaign?
Give me a shout, I’m glad to help!

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How Human Nature Influences Medical Device Purchases Online

Successful marketing campaigns usually begin with an understanding of human behavior.

Forget about the copy and the graphics for a second.  Stop and think about what people do, how do they act every day?  What is normal behavior for the situation that your customers are in when they make a buying decision?

Here’s an example.
When you’re looking for a florist, do you whip out the yellow pages to find one?  You used to, I’m sure. But nowadays, I’m willing to bet you hop online [using your phone more than likely] and go to what?

That’s right, Google.  Or Bing, or whatever search engine your browser defaults to.

Do you go to a rose grower’s web site to look for their local distributors? No, of course not, that would be silly!

So why do so many medical device manufacturers think that consumers want to go to their website, first and foremost, to find a local dealer?  That approach doesn’t jive with human nature when it comes to how most people search for things online.

Am I saying device manufacturers shouldn’t have a dealer directory on their main website?  Absolutely not, that’s always important.  But if you are a device manufacturer and you’re not employing other web strategies to drive customers to dealer locations, you’re missing out on sales opportunities left and right.

Tips for Driving Online Traffic To Your Medical Device Dealers & Retailers

  • Keep the dealer directory on your website, but advertise the directory via Google ads and through content placement on health sites.
  • Employ Google’s remarketing tactics to get people back to your website once they visit the dealer directory.   [Don’t know what Google Remarketing is or how to use it?  Contact us, we’ll tell you all about it.]
  • Create an e-newsletter for your audience – whether that’s clinicians or consumers – and embed a link to your dealer directory in each edition.
  • Use video to talk about your products and then have that video point viewers to your dealer directory to find a local provider.   Upload your videos to YouTube, Vimeo and other video hosting sites that allow viewers to forward your helpful information to a friend.

There’s plenty of other ways to extend your medical device brand online.
If you’d like to learn more, give us a shout. We’re happy to help!

(C) Lisa Wells, Get Social – All rights reserved, 2012.

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Meet Emma: She Knows Email

Most everyone knows about Constant Contact, a do-it-yourself email solution that has become ubiquitous among small businesses.

But I’ve always shied away from the catch-all solutions and sought out others that personalize the customer experience.  Emma is one of those options for email marketers.

And how could you not like an email program named Emma? She sounds sweet, right?

Not only that, but she’s pretty open and honest about what she’s able to do.  Here’s a list of Five things you should know about Emma.

Emma’s approach seems to be working. According to her web site, she’s “currently supporting the email marketing efforts of roughly 40,000 businesses, nonprofits and agencies doing all sorts of interesting things in all sorts of interesting places, assuming Belgium makes your list of interesting places, and why wouldn’t it?”  She’s headquartered in Nashville, and staffed by all kinds of young, hip e-savvy marketers.

Last year, Emma interviewed me for their 5 Questions blog.  This blog site aids e-marketers with helpful strategies and tactics to drive their online marketing success.  Emma asked me to participate because one of the e-newsletters that I had developed using their communications platform was receiving a much higher than average click thru rate by readers – nearly 40%.  [In healthcare, most Emma clients only see a 10-20% click thru rate.]

Emma offers all kinds of free templates to help you create a professional look and feel for your e-marketing campaigns.

Here’s one of the highlights from our interview:

Question: What’s your best advice to writing accessible, memorable emails?

Lisa Wells:

  • Write for your audience’s benefit – not yours or your company’s.
  • Illustrate points with pictures the audience will relate to and click on for details.
  • Use a personal tone – no one wants to read an email that sounds like you have a banana stuck in your tailpipe. Treat your customers like they’re your friends, but not in terms of slang or being overly familiar. Do use layman’s terms, and answer questions or problems they may have.
  • Link, link, link and link some more. The more direct access you provide to customer relational touch points, the better.

Read the full interview here.

If you’re a non-profit, you may want to apply for the Emma 25 Initiative. Each year, the annual Emma 25 initiative awards free Emma service to help small, deserving nonprofits do more to reach their donors and supporters with email marketing. Charitable causes from around the world apply, and they select 25 to honor with a lifetime of free Emma service.  Non-Profits — Apply here.

Need a hand with your e-marketing initiatives? 
Give me a shout.  I’m glad to help.

Aligning Technology to Improve Sales Success

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of co-presenting a webinar with renowned HME Sales Consultant Eric Kline as part of the ongoing webinar series offered by HME News.   Together, Eric and I shared our best practices for Aligning Technology to Improve Sales Success. 

If you missed our webinar, catch the replay at www.hmenews.com.

Here are a few of the highlights from our presentation that cover many of the questions we received from participants.

Main Point
Improving the productivity and effectiveness of your sales reps is a great way to boost profitability, especially when you use a process-driven sales approach supported by technology-driven marketing tools.

HME News offered these bullet points to summerize the topics we covered:

* Fostering consistency and utilizing technology to share new information in referral source visits
* Creating online communities using social media to develop a trusted relationship with referral sources
* Being proactive in asking for referrals and providing those referral sources with online tools to guide their decision-making

A couple of quick and easy techie tools that can assist sales reps in the planning process are:

Healthgrades.com: This website was designed to help consumers find a local healthcare provider.  But you can use it to better understand your referral sources before you visit them.  Look up a physician on Healthgrades and their profile will include the number of patients they see per day, their areas of specialization, office hours and locations AND a list of the health insurances they accept.  Pretty good details to know before you call on them, right?  And the best part — it’s free.

Task assignment and management thru CRM. If you don’t have a system for assigning follow-up items to field reps, how can you expect them to remember the details?  It’s very hard to drive a process within your sales team without implementing a tool that makes them follow one.  A system that records and reminds reps of their to-dos, follow-ups and opportunities is key, as it helps them organize their next steps in terms of the biggest wins first.

As your call lists change, your outbound marketing efforts should coincide to support their sales focus.  Here’s another advantage of CRM, if you are storing contacts and call priority in a database, you can export that list to target with personalized email campaigns  that contain your rep’s contact information. That way you are still communicating with that prospective referral even when the rep isn’t in the office, and providing them with a means to connect with you on the spur-of-a-moment when they have a need.

Route planning tools: When your reps are heading out, do they plan their stops in order or do they cut back and forth across town all day?  Save time in traffic by GPS-ing your destinations to determine the quickest routes before you set out.

If you don’t remember anything else:

Eric says it’s crucial to emphasize that sales reps should “Always ask for the referral on every call, every time.”

But because referrals sources don’t always decide on the spot, I always stress importance of creating an online resource on your website, so you can direct referrals sources there for more information.  Also, be sure to leverage online marketing, direct mail and email efforts to target those prospects that don’t merit an in-person visit as the charge for e-communication is only a fraction of what your feet on the street cost you.

Watch the Recording Here

About Eric Kline
Eric offers more than 20 years of sales and management in this industry. On a daily basis, he helps HME companies increase their top-line revenue by hiring, training, managing and mentoring salespeople.  He’s also a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, donating his time and resources to fly critical-care patients to treatments across the Southeast.

To contact Eric, visit:
Website: http://www.hmesalespro.com/
Email: ekline@hmesalespro.com
Cell: 850.341.7467

About Lisa Wells
As a HME/DME/Medical Device marketing consultant, I have ž+17 yrs of global product management and marketing experience with a technology focus.  I often give back to the HME community by serving as a subject-matter-expert on marketing for industry publications and speaking at events like the HME News Business Summit, Invacare Supply Group’s annual Customer Appreciation Meeting and Medtrade. ž

Feel free to contact me at:
Website: www.getsocialconsulting.com
Email: lisa@getsocialconsulting.com
Phone: 678-232-1330

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