Thousands of healthcare providers trust PatientPop to manage each step of practice growth, from the moment patients find them online to post-visit feedback. Today, we hear from customer Jonathan Gottlieb, MD.
Dr. Gottlieb is a practice owner and orthopedic spine surgeon, serving patients at Minimally Invasive Spine Center of South Florida. In this video, PatientPop representative Norm Schrager asks Dr. Gottlieb about his experiences and successes with PatientPop. Watch the video for conversation highlights, or see more of their conversation in the below transcript.
Norm Schrager: Dr. Gottlieb, thank you for joining us today. I wanted to first introduce you to folks watching. You are a spine surgeon in the Miami-Dade County area. Can you tell us a little bit about the services that you provide and the care you provide to patients?
Jonathan Gottlieb, MD: Absolutely. I’m a solo practitioner. I’ve been in practice for 10 years. I’ve also been in a group setting. I was on the faculty at the University of Miami for six years, and I really developed an interest in providing more of a personalized service to the patients, as opposed to having them come through a big system and feel like it was somewhat impersonal. I wanted to set up a more patient- and individual-focused practice.
We see patients three days a week, and we do surgery twice a week. It covers the entire gamut of spine surgery, from minimally invasive outpatient surgeries — which is probably about two-thirds of what I do — to more extensive big complex reconstructions.
Schrager: As you said, you’re a solo practitioner, you put minimally invasive as the name of the practice, so is that a very specific approach that you prefer, or that’s a way that you want patients to know who you are. Is the name a way that you address certain injuries and certain needs?
Gottlieb: I think it’s really both. We want to represent that we can provide the most contemporary and cutting-edge services and, at the same time, we want to provide those services. We want to do them and be known for them. Really, I think the better moniker would be “appropriately sized,” but that doesn’t look very good on a logo.
Schrager: No, I guess not. You said that just runs the gamut of the services that you provide, so that leads me to wondering about the competitive landscape. In your market, for your specialty, in particular, tell me a little bit about that and how you feel about that.
Gottlieb: Miami is hyper-competitive. I think the only discipline that is more prevalent here than surgeons are attorneys, and they find themselves really in a similar growth to us.
Unfortunately, the quality of the service that you deliver isn’t the only indicator as to whether or not you’re going to be successful. You have to have an availability, you have to have a favorable market presence. Even though this is outside of what we’re all trained in, an internet presence is as important as a community reputation these days.
Schrager: Yes, the old saying that they don’t teach enough business management in medical school — which is more of a bad joke than a saying, I guess — but I feel like you’re challenged. How were you marketing minimally invasive in your practice before you found PatientPop? What was the strategy at hand?
Gottlieb: Before I actually started this group or this individual practice, which was about eight months or so ago now, I was in a group practice, and we had a website service. It was managing a lot of what we needed as far as the images, the videos, and patient interactions of the website, and they represented that they would be able to optimize the sites very well, too.
I felt like essentially the more money we threw at the problem, the worse it got. We weren’t really moving up as well as we wanted to in the search engine optimization. The interface for the patients wasn’t very favorable, and then when we would call them, we really weren’t getting the results that we were looking for. Even though the website looked good on the surface, every time an issue arose it would take us two, three weeks to get it addressed.
Schrager: If I can ask, was it a service that was strictly focused on website and SEO? Were there any other sort of elements to the services that they provided?
Gottlieb: Well, they said that they were primarily a website and SEO service, but I came to ultimately learn that their specialty was graphic design.
Schrager: After that, how did you find PatientPop, and what was your line of thinking to get at the idea that PatientPop services were something that you wanted to integrate into the practice?
Gottlieb: Probably about two or three years before I started this practice, I saw a little blurb on PatientPop and I looked at it. I actually spoke to somebody and it really sounded like just a favorable way to approach things. We had the system in place, and it seemed like it was going to be effort and cost prohibitive to make the change well as part of that group.
Once I was heading out on my own, I remember that conversation, and I contacted PatientPop, told them what I was looking to do and really looked at a number of other services, too. It wasn’t just a single, “OK, I remember you, let’s call and get things started,” but compared and contrasted with a number of the other services out there, and that was the best fit for me.
Schrager: Did you synchronize PatientPop services with opening the practice? You knew that you would have some service in place, whatever your decision was, that would be in place to help you build up the solo practice.
Gottlieb: Exactly, and in fact, before I really launched the practice, I got the website up and running. I really think it’s important to have visibility right off the bat. And at the same time, it gave us a chance to address any bugs or any issues that we thought we would have to handle. I launched the site about a month before I actually opened up the office.
Schrager: And that was site developed for you by PatientPop folks?
Gottlieb: That’s right.
Schrager: Was the website the key factor in your satisfaction early on? What other elements do you think brought you to selecting PatientPop?
Gottlieb: The website’s good. You can get a lot of good websites out there, and you can spend an infinite amount of money and have every imaginable bell and whistle. I think the website is important but also looking at the features such as the optimization. I really felt like the PatientPop was going to do a great job with the SEO. Then at the same time, I thought that other services, such as the reputation management, would be particularly useful.
It’s really difficult, if you grew yourself online as doc, you’re going to find a thousand references, almost all of which are inaccurate — whether it’s your name, your address, your phone number. Up until relatively recently when PatientPop took over, I had addresses on some of the sites for when I was doing my fellowship in North Carolina in 2007.
Schrager: Kind of hard to book in Miami, right?
Gottlieb: Yes, exactly. It’s really difficult because we don’t know how to reach out to these guys. We send them an email, we call them and then, invariably, three months later we look up and the misinformation is still up there.
Schrager: It looks like that you’ve got a really solid level of appointments coming in from those profiles as opposed to or in conjunction with what you got on your own site. I was wondering if that was kind of a revelation, or if that was something you would have been aiming for?
Gottlieb: Yes, absolutely. If you think about it, if you’re searching for a product and you click on the link and it takes you to the wrong place, you’re not going to do that. We’re not commodities obviously, but if it’s not easy for patients to reach us, they’re going to go somewhere else. I think it’s just natural. You question the overall competence of somebody who you can’t even get in touch with through a site.
Schrager: When you got started with PatientPop, what was your experience in getting things rolling in that first month or so of operations running? How did that go?
Gottlieb: Well, it was great. I think we had the website up in less than 28 days from when I had said, “Let’s go.” That was really nice. Any time you launch something new, there are always going to be minor issues, but if there was, say, a picture we didn’t like, we could get it changed within a day. If there was a phone number that didn’t look right, we would change that within the day.
We were able to really quickly coordinate all the information we wanted on the site. And then from there, once we were live, everything worked. All of our links worked, the phone numbers were accurate, the pictures were more along the lines of what we were really looking for. And that, it made our day go much smoother.
Schrager: Great, especially when you’re opening your doors around that same time, right?
Gottlieb: To be part of an employment role or a big group is easy. To do what we’re doing now on our own — and I hope more doctors do this — it’s hard. You have that and many more things to worry about. So you really have to have good support, you have to have good billing support and good infrastructure in your office, but we’re not able to manage our online presence. It’s just it’s time prohibitive, and we don’t have the expertise.
Schrager: That’s what we’re here for. Have you heard from any patients who have used something like online booking — whether it’s your website or one of the direct online directories that you’re featured in? Have you had any feedback from them if that was that was something that they had wanted or they had looked forward to using it, or anything along those lines?
Gottlieb: The online booking is not for everybody, but for the people who want to use it, it’s the best thing, really. Some people just have a quick question, and they’ll send an email. Well, that’s great. They don’t have to make a phone call. It doesn’t cost them a co-payment or anything like that, and we can respond to them. Sometimes, it’ll just be to ask whether or not we provide a certain service. It gives us the chance to respond.
Some people love to make the appointments, especially for follow up appointments. They might leave the office and say, “I’m not sure whether I’m going to be able to make it back,” but then they just send us something through the interface, and we will confirm the appointment if we can, or if we have to give them an alternate time, we do. It’s quick and easy and they’re able to get the response within 24 hours all the time.
Schrager: With your admin staff or your front desk staff, I think the folks that usually carry the burden of that kind of work. Have you had any response from them? Have they worked with an automated system like that before?
Gottlieb: They have … it decreases their administrative burden. We get marketing companies that reach out to us all the time. I tell them, “Look, it never hurts to listen to what somebody has to say.” But invariably we haven’t, before or after, come across anybody who could offer the spectrum offered and especially given the price. Really, I think we get a great deal for what we’re getting.
Schrager: You mentioned a little bit about online presence, how well is this managed, and does everything looks consistent? If we talk about some other values that I think doctors expect from us, how about the patient acquisition? The idea that people are finding you on those profiles or on your website and are successfully becoming patients?
Gottlieb: Well, I think that speaks really to the first impression. Most people, when they do a search, they don’t go past Page 1. If you’re not on Page 1, you don’t exist. And then, once they find you on Page 1, what do you look like? I think it has to pass that first glimpse test.
Then from there, they’re going to take a closer look at you and really see what people, what patients experiences have been when they come to you. I think having a seamless site that links to a number of review sites is important. Most people come in now, at least in this market, and say, “I’ve already reviewed you before we came in, and this is part of why we’re here.”
Schrager: The new world. The new line of word-of-mouth is now word-of-online-mouth.
Gottlieb: Yes, and it’s the reality of it. Unfortunately, I kind of feel like you shouldn’t be shopping for your doctor on TripAdvisor, but that’s just what people are doing now.
Schrager: Yes, I would agree. Is there a notable change in your online reputation from what you may have experienced at the group before you opened your practice, or is it really apples and oranges?
Gottlieb: Yes, I think it is really different. I had an individual reputation site before, a business page, but now there are more and easier ways for patients to provide feedback through the PatientPop website. They don’t necessarily have to go somewhere, and they can just basically click on a link on the site and give their thoughts that way.
Schrager: I wanted to close out by asking what’s that single component of PatientPop that’s really working for you, that’s your favorite?
Gottlieb: I think the single most important is the service. Whenever we have even a slight issue or question, our representative is absolutely amazing. She has made it easy for me and easy for my staff, and sometimes I feel like we’re reaching out to her two or three times a week, but she always responds immediately. And if it’s an issue that she personally can’t handle, gets us onto somebody who can.
Schrager: That’s great news. That supersedes all the great software and it’s intrinsic to all the great technical stuff.
Gottlieb: You can have an amazing system and an interface, but if the people don’t live up to the quality of the system, you’re not going to have a great experience with it. We found, from sales onwards, just very pleasant and available and competent people.
Schrager: Thank you for the time.
Gottlieb: Thank you.
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