LeQ Medical

Communicating the ideas that are changing medicine


Do Doctors Text?

Doctor texting on smartphone

Physician text thyself

In ancient times–which in the Internet era means before 2005–it was widely believed that physicians, nurses, technologists, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals had limited computer skills and no interest in technological geekery. It was easy to support this belief. Physicians and their ilk were mainly running around hospitals or seeing patients in clinics and in the era of desktop or laptop computing, that meant they had limited access to their computer screens. Smartphones and other portable devices changed that.

Physicians were quick to embrace cell phone technology, but they saw cell phones as portable phones. The advent and preposterous development of handheld devices (remember the old Palm Pilots with the little stylus and the secret alphabet you had to memorize?) was not something the average clinician had time for.

Social media has mainly bypassed doctors, since the time-deprived have little interest in devoting their precious few spare moments to find out what their acquaintances had for lunch. The emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and other things was regarded by physicians as roughly equivalent to video games or those automatic vacuum robots they sell on TV, that is to say, interesting technological developments of no direct impact. Doctors who found such social media engaging were often more interested in the technology, per se, than using it in any practical way.

Smart phones are going to change all that. First of all, doctors already love cell phones. I don’t know a single physician–academic, in practice, or retired–who does not carry one with him or her every minute. The higher price tag for smartphones is not much of a barrier to doctors and smartphone prices are coming down every day. When a fourth grader can manage to get an iPhone, so can the average physician.

The question is going to be whether doctors realize that the cool new phone they are carrying can do things beyond just conveying voice. Statistics on cell phone use patterns hold that Americans text more than they call on their mobile devices. I do not know if anyone has broken out the statistics by profession, but I am not convinced this general pattern holds for physicians. Physicians may still be using their smartphones to make voice calls.

It used to be that mobile marketing and medical marketing were two entirely different species, like camels and whales. Will we ever see them come together?  Will there ever be mobile medical marketing? Will doctors ever text? There are some drivers that are going to push even the overworked, patient-focused physician forward into new technology and new social media.

1. Mobile medical marketing is going to start with how patients find doctors. Patients are already searching for physicians from their smartphones. They already review doctors on Yelp and other sites. Doctors are going to realize that ads in newspapers and traditional referrals are fizzling out and establish some mobile presence.

2. Doctors live in a litigious world that is quite different from the world of the average patient. This makes physicians skittish about e-mail communications with patients, and texting is going to give them apoplexy. Doctors are not going to use these media to communicate directly with patients.

3. This does not mean that doctors will not text or use these media to communicate with staff, family, friends, meeting or conference organizers, and some of the professionals in their lives, like insurance representatives or accountants. But relegating texting and other social media communications to these spheres means that doctors are not going to take it very seriously as a professional medium. They’ll view it as something both fun and convenient, but not something professional.

4. About half of all physicians in private practice do not have a website. This seems odd to me, because 12-year-old boys have their own websites. This will change, because having an online presence is kind of the foundation of the whole mobile marketing pyramid. You need the foundation. Are websites important? People do not spend a lot of time on websites–the average stay on most medical websites has to be seconds (that is, not even a minute). However, people do visit websites. This means that physicians need a website, but they do not necessarily need a thorough website.

5. Half of all Google searches are now done on mobile devices. This means that the doctor-without-a-website also needs a mobile site or half of the people who might try to access his site are going to have a suboptimal experience. I don’t know about you but when I search for something on my smartphone and I get the traditional website that I have to enlarge and then push around the phone screen, I generally give up in about two seconds.  Today’s physician trying to build or maintain a practice needs a mobile and a traditional online presence.

6. Much of social media is stupid, and doctors are usually not attracted to stupid things. Doctors will never be wowed with Farmville or posting photo albums of your dinner at the Mexican restaurant last night. Doctors probably find it more efficient to call and speak to a person than to text a message on an itty-bitty keypad and then wait till the phone goes off with the response. But doctors are going to get the message in a big way as marketing to patient shifts from traditional print to online to mobile.

7. Last but not least, patients are changing. That’s right. Today, a patient is less likely to have a single physician or anyone close to the old family doctor of Norman Rockville paintings. Many patients like to call themselves empowered because they take an active role in their healthcare decisions. Modern patients are more likely to learn about their disease or condition. Today, the average patient with a credit card has all of the information of all of the medical libraries in the world at his or her fingertips–more than Hippocrates or Marcus Wellby ever had. Patients are getting used to partnering with physicians and to seeking out specialists. This means patients are going to approach the whole concept of finding a doctor in a different way, and they will use different tools.

Doctors are different. They live in a time-stressed, highly regulated, litigious world that influences their choices of communications channels. That is unlikely to change. It is very unlikely that Dr. Johnson will text Dr. Robinson in surgery to find out how the surgery is going. Dr. Robinson will not be posting images of Mrs. Harris’s liver tumor on his Facebook page. Dr. Smith won’t be texting her patients to tell them she’s running a little late this morning.  It is unreasonable to expect that Dr. Marshall will blog about her patient’s really bizarre side effects or that Nurse Samuels will Tweet how cute she thinks the new patient in Room 412 is.

But technology is more than that. Mobile medical marketing is going to hit doctors in terms of presenting the best and most efficient face to the world. It’s about advertising, promotion, and marketing. Smart doctors may never text, but they’ll set up a mobile presence for their practice.





10 Things to Consider Before You Translate

Translating for marketing can be difficult

Translating marketing materials may not be as difficult as you think

It is hard to find a business nowadays that does not occasionally come to grips with the issue of translation. If you or your business is dealing with the possibility of needing to get materials translated, here are 10 important tips to consider before you even get started.

1. Translation is not just knowing two languages (or one-and-a-half). Translators have as much education as lawyers and commence their study of translation when they can speak at least two languages fluently. Even knowing two languages very well does not make a person a translator any more than knowing how to spell makes a person a technical writer.

2. Contrary to popular belief, bilingual people (that is, those who grow up speaking two languages) do not make good translators. Bilingual people tend to have an incomplete mastery of both languages because they grow up using both and somehow fuse them together. This does not mean they do not speak well–most bilingual people speak both languages flawlessly. But when it comes to the nitty gritty of translating highly technical, very specific texts, bilingual people can struggle more than a person who learned the second language later in life (usually after about the age of 11 or 12). Here’s an example. In English, there are three words for mound, hill, and mountain. They are essentially degrees of the same thing. German has three words that one might translate into mound, hill, and mountain. But here’s the kicker. In German, a mound is a glorified bump, a hill is very low, and a mountain can be the kind of thing you might find in a park. In English, a mound is low, hills are pretty tall (the Alps have foothills, for example), and a mountain is the sort of thing you need equipment to climb. People who learn the second language after mastering the first understand these gradations, but bilinguals often do not.

3. Figure out who you are translating the material for. This is not a demographic or psychological question. You just have to realize that Spanish isn’t one language. There is American Spanish, Mexican Spanish, and European Spanish. They are very similar languages but there are distinctions. The distinctions are more pronounced between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, in that pronouns may change. Your translators will ask you these questions, so you need to know the answer. If you want something in French that will work in Canada as well as France and also in Sierra Leone, then tell the translator. They are going to have to help you navigate how to accomplish this.

4. Translators and editors tend to charge by the word of the source document. The source document is what they are translating from. In the free enterprise system we all cherish, this means translators ask for what they think they can get. This can create unusual situations. Some languages cost more than others. Some translators cost more than others. But as you shop around for good deals, knowing the word count and getting the word rate will help you figure out accurate pricing pretty quickly. Translators and editors may also charge an hourly rate for work like proofreading or consulting.

5. At the highest levels of medical translation, a team of three people is required to translate a text. There is a translator (he or she is the one who says that “corazon” is “heart.”) Then there is an editor who comes along behind the translator and makes sure that the word heart accurately translates the Spanish term “corazon.” And finally, after it is all done, a proofreader reads the final document to make sure it makes sense and corazon is spelled properly. These three people are supposed to make for better translators, but this is like saying hiring three chefs make for a better soup.  However, it is often the way that medical organizations work. The secret to making this work right is building or tapping into teams of translators/editors/proofreaders who like each other and work together well. You do not necessarily need three layers for all translations.

6. Some translations must be certified. This means that an agency or translator signs a document to the effect that a given translation fully, accurately, and fairly reflects the content of the source document. In many cases, you have to pay extra to have a translation certified. (Not with us.)

7.  After the material is translated, it may have to be formatted into a manual, brochure, or website. Some translation agencies will do this for you, but always check and be skeptical since many agencies will also assure you they can fly to the moon if that’s what you ask. Get some examples. Ask what software they use or how they would do the job. Many agencies work with professional designers to get stuff formatted but they don’t tell you this: a lot of times the designer does not speak the language. Don’t be alarmed. There are methods to make this work well. But if you do take a translation in Word and want it put online or laid out in a manual, have a proofreader (or the original translator) review it. Many Asian languages or languages that use non-European alphabets offer design and layout services. Take them.

8. Translation work can take time. It is not always because the actual translation is slow work (although it can be) but because translators can get very busy on large projects and most of them tend to be mono-taskers, that is, they work on one project from start to finish and then pick up the next. So when you hire a translator, think of it like going to the bakery. You’re going to get a number and have to wait your turn–and sometimes it can be a week or more.

9. If you have to translate the same document into multiple languages (such as a manual that needs to be translated into six European languages), realize that you are doing one manual six times. This is the same as six projects. Routine projects like a suite of five manuals into six languages results in 30 projects. This is why you need an agency or a translation coordinator.

10. Many companies let their distributors or sales teams review translations. This is very useful in that these are the ones who will use the manuals. However, do not assume that they know how to translate better than the translators you hired who do not work for you. Some distributors will introduce errors or make changes that deviate from your source document. Do not be alarmed if a translator refuses to go along with a distributor change. Most of them well, but when they balk, there may be good reason. Companies that would never let their sales reps write their manuals tend to want to let their sales reps do their translations. Be cautious.

For more help with translation work, contact us.


Test Your QR


Look off to the side of this website to that thing that looks like a Baroque bar code. Know what it is? It’s a QR code. QR stands for Quick Response code. It’s kind of like a decoder ring but for modern adults. To decode this, you need to get a QR reader on your smart phone. There are lots of free apps for this. Then you use the app to take a picture of the code and it translates the code.

You can use this to send people to a website (for instance, you can make it so somebody just “decodes” your QR code and, zap, they’re on your site) or relay some secret information.

Don’t fall for it if somebody offers to sell you your own business-related QR code for $1,000. You can make them for free, providing they’re basic.

So how can you use these?

  • Slap them on a business card–it’s like a special secret-agent card that only experts can read
  • Put them in an ad or brochure to send people to your main website
  • Put a special info page in your website, for instance, insurance plans you accept or 10 symptoms of a gluten allergy. Then put the appropriate QR codes in your brochures or other printed materials.
  • In your practice, put up a poster asking people to sign up for a mailing list or newsletter and use the QR code–that drives them to a sign up page where they can sign up electronically from their phone.

These codes are very clever, extraordinarily user-friendly, and still relatively “new.” Wow your patients with your tech-savviosity. That’s right, we just made up that word.



Everything You Know About Marketing Your Business is Wrong

What you don't know about business can kill your business

Business is changing--and it's a pain

There are lots of things you know about your business, and that’s great. You’re the expert. But when it comes to marketing your business, unless you were literally born yesterday, you are probably suffering from a condition I call “conventional wisdom.” Conventional wisdom sounds good, but it is usually not true.

Here are some examples.

  1. Advertise your medical business, clinic, or practice in the yellow pages. That’s how people find medical help.
  2. Take out an occasional ad in the newspaper to get new patients.
  3. Expect that patients will tell their friends about your practice and increase your referrals.
  4. Assume that if a person has a bad experience at your practice or business, there is no place for him to vent.
  5. Don’t worry about websites or other gimmicks.
  6. If you’re in private practice or run a small medical business, don’t even worry about marketing.

None of those are true, and thinking they are can hurt your business.


1. The yellow pages has gone the way of the horse-drawn carriage. People who want to find phone numbers or businesses go online, most of the time from a mobile device. While it might be worthwhile to be listed in the yellow pages, your advertising dollar is not working hard for you there.

2. Newspapers are going the way of the yellow pages.

3. People, particularly the younger hipper variety, are not really into being fonts of information for their peers. The old tell-a-friend network is breaking down. People are more likely to consult Angie’s List to find some kind of specialists or technical help than they are to ask a friend or neighbor. That doesn’t mean referrals are dead–they have just changed. People are OK with anonymous referrals now.

4. There are entire websites that allow people to write reviews of your practice or business. Most people are not inclined to bother with this if they like you. This means that a disproportionate number of online reviews are going to be nasty. Now get this–these reviews are aggregated (that means collected) by various sources and posted together. People who look up your practice in something like Google Places are going to see any negative reviews you have–even if you never saw them yourself.

5. You need a website. About half of doctors in private practice do not have them. Now don’t expect your website to wow people. They’re a given now. Sort of like people expect you to have a door. They expect you to have a website.

6. Marketing may not be your favorite thing, but we live in a hyper-marketed environment. With commercials, ads, online sites, mobile media, and other things poking up at every turn, you have to market to survive. Fortunately, you can outsource this to us without breaking the bank.



Quick–What Three Things Does Everyone Have When They Go Out?

Mobile marketing is more important than you think

Today, about 50% of all searches happen on a mobile device

Whether your 8 or 80, nowadays, just about everybody leaving the house takes with him or her keys, a wallet, and a cell phone. In most cases, that phone is a smart phone.

Recent computer usage data reveals that half of all searches for online information did not happen on a laptop or computer but rather on a portable device, typically a smart phone. That number is likely to increase substantially.

So what does this mean to savvy marketers? First of all, if your “only” presence is online, you may be missing out. Smart phone seekers can still find you online via their phones, but unless you are optimized for mobile devices, you are going to have a hard time getting your message through.

What’s more, mobile marketing offers lots of benefits and bells and whistles that the now “traditional” online world does not. For example, you can get clients or patients to sign up with you for text messages (this is called SMS). You can then text your patients or clients with updates, news, specials, promotions, or just periodically to remind them you’re there. You may be one of the smart marketers who is already doing this by email. Well, email is old school. Here’s why: the “open rate” on texts is about 90% or maybe a little higher. That means people cannot resist reading their texts. The open rate for emails even on a good day is about 15%. So you can reach your people better with mobile marketing.

Another boon: the mobile marketing coupon. These are coupons that can be called up on a smart phone and scanned at your business. Mobile coupons are used more than printed coupons for the simple reason that nobody forgets their phone (remember the three things everyone has) whereas some folks forget their paper coupons when they go to the store.

You might be thinking–how can a doctor or hospital use a mobile coupon? Well, let us help you think like a mobile marketer:

  • Offer a coupon for a free book or other educational material when the patient comes in to your office. (Haven’t authored a patient book yet? We can help you!)
  • Offer a discount on a flu shot or other special seasonal treatment
  • Offer fast-track appointments, that is, give the patient some kind of priority treatment or expedited service at the practice

Learn more about mobile marketing by calling us.