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Practice Management & Allied Staff News & Materials

Practice Management Matters - Jan/Feb 2009

February 17th, 2009

Question: What is search engine optimization?

Answer: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science and sometimes art of optimizing a Web site to increase traffic from search engines. To get free traffic, you have to first get listed in the search engines and achieve high ranking with the keywords that will drive people to your Web site.

Once the search engines know you exist, you must then convince them that you are important enough to be ranked at the very top of their listings. To do this, you must understand how search engines work and how to "negotiate" with them to be at the top of your search listings. The majority of Web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines — Yahoo!, MSN, Google and Ask.com. (Although AOL gets nearly 10% of searches, its engine is powered by Google's results.)

If your site cannot be found by search engines or your content cannot be put into their databases, you miss out on the opportunities available to Web sites provided via search. Whether your site provides content, services, products or information, search engines are a primary method of navigation for almost all Internet users.

Search engines are always working towards improving their technology to "crawl" the Web more deeply and return increasingly relevant results to users. The online environment is becoming more and more competitive. Those who utilize the principles of SEO will have a decided advantage in attracting visitors and new patients.

Some ways in which to utilize search engine optimization

Following are a few suggestions to increase the traffic on your Web site.

  1. If you don't already have a Web site, get your own domain name and register it for several years. It may cost as little as $50 to register your domain for the next five years.

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  3. Get a knowledgeable host. You can find many reliable hosting options for less than $20 per month.

  4. Set up an e-mail address using your domain. Your hosting plan will come with a minimum of one free e-mail address and your host should have instructions on how to set up and configure your mail client to check that e-mail.

  5. If you don't know how to develop a great Web site, hire a reputable firm that specializes in OMS Web sites. Remember, your Web site will provide online users with their first impression of your practice.

  6. Make sure the title tags on each page are unique and include some keywords you think people would type into a search engine while trying to find your site. For example, if you practice in Clearwater, Florida, your homepage title tag might be: "Professional OMS Services in Clearwater, Florida — Southshore OMS." Every page on your site should have a title tag that reflects the content specific to that page.

  7. Make sure the meta description tag on each page contains a sentence that serves as a mini advertisement for your practice that makes people want to find out more. It may appear at times under the title of your Web site in Google and other search engines. Be sure the description is not only promotional, but also informational about your practice and services.

  8. Make sure the designer doesn't use flash (for the entire Web site) or JavaScript links to navigate your site. This may make it more challenging for people to find your Web site using search engines.

  9. Have links coming in to as many pages as possible. When other Web sites are linking to different pages on your site, the search engine believes you have lots of worthwhile content. If all your links are coming in to the home page, the message to the search engine is that your links were generated by automation rather than by the value of your site.

  10. Link to articles from local publishers that archive their content. These links often stay live for many years in the archives.

  11. A big site needs a site map, which should be linked to and from every page on the site. This will help the search engine robots find every page with just two clicks. A small site needs a site map, too. It's called the navigation bar. Make sure the structure of your site is easy for the search engines to analyze and index.

This question was adapted from Joel Harris, CEO and Co-Founder of Intelligent Dental Marketing. Reprinted with permission from: The Dentist's Network.

Question: What are some potential benefits of e-prescribing?

Answer: Beginning in 2009, and during the next four years, Medicare will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals who are successful electronic prescribers. Eligible professionals will receive a 2% incentive payment in 2009 and 2010; a 1% incentive payment in 2011 and 2012; and a one-half percent incentive payment in 2013. Beginning in 2012, eligible professionals who are not successful electronic prescribers may receive a reduction in payment.

E-prescribing helps prevent medication errors because it allows pharmacists to electronically check each prescription at the time of prescribing for dosage, interactions with other medications and therapeutic duplication.

E-prescribing improves the quality of care and the efficiency of care, and reduces costs of care by:

  • Promoting appropriate drug usage, such as following a medication regimen for a specific condition.

  • Providing information about formulary-based drug coverage, including formulary alternatives and co-pay information.

  • Improving the process of renewing medications by reducing the number of necessary phone calls.

  • Providing instant connectivity between the healthcare provider, the pharmacy, health plans and other entities.

  • Improving the speed and accuracy of prescription dispensing, pharmacy callbacks, renewal requests, eligibility checks and medication history.

The use of e-prescribing shows promise for improving Medicare operations by creating effi ciencies in the administration of the Part D drug benefit, by facilitating patient eligibility checks, promoting generic drugs and appropriate use and creating timely interface with formularies. It also allows enhanced patient safety benefi ts through the prevention of medication errors resulting from illegible handwriting on paper prescriptions.

This question and answer appear in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the CMS Web site. More information about e-prescribing can be found on the CMS Web site at www.cms.hhs.gov/EPrescribing/ and www.hhs.gov/news/facts/eprescribing.html.

Do you have any Practice Management questions that you would like addressed in Practice Management Matters? Please contact Beth Hayson at 800-822-6637 ext. 4357 or bhayson@aaoms.org.