Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations

ACR Launches International Volunteer Services Portal
SilentWhistle System Offers Anonymous Feedback Management
Six Steps to Successful Physician Marketing

ACR Launches International Volunteer Services Portal

The American College of Radiology (ACR), Reston, Va, recently launched its International Volunteer Services online portal. It is designed to connect health care facilities in developing countries that are in need of radiologists and imaging personnel or equipment, with donors and/or volunteers in the United States and worldwide. The Web portal automatically matches requests with parties offering the applicable services, sponsorship, information, or equipment.

To access the ACR’s International Volunteer Services portal, visit

“The ACR, as one of the world’s largest medical specialty societies, is in a unique position to help improve radiologic care not only in this country, but around the globe,” ACR President James P. Borgstede, MD, said in a press release. “Providers around the world are working tirelessly on behalf of their patients. We are happy to offer them a tool to help them continue and even advance their efforts.”

The portal works by allowing volunteers to post an online profile detailing their services. Donors can post equipment or other materials. Sponsors—including corporations, health care facilities, practices, and individuals—can post grant offers or scholarship opportunities. A discussion forum soon will be provided, along with inspirational articles and relevant information.

To learn more about ACR International Volunteer Services, visit or call (800) 227-5463, x4975. To access the portal, visit

SilentWhistle System Offers Anonymous Feedback Management

A new system from Allegiance Inc, South Jordan, Utah, offers computer-based anonymous feedback management designed to mitigate risk and enforce ethics policies. With the SilentWhistle program, employees can submit feedback, suggestions, and concerns in a secure and anonymous format anytime, from anywhere, using a Web portal or the telephone. Submissions are transmitted to two or more administrative parties for review, and they can fall under five categories: general, accounting, company policy, human resources, and other.

“Health care is highly regulated; organizations are concerned about maintaining a certain level of security, and the anonymous aspect of sharing employee feedback data is highly critical,” explains Greg Heaps, vice president of sales and marketing at Allegiance. “SilentWhistle provides a safe environment for reporting, helping health care organizations to open a line of communication so that they’re aware of things they might originally not have known. We’ve found that 90% of submissions come through our Web tool, and we’ve incorporated a deeper set of questioning and data capturing into our system to provide better resources for resolution.”

Implementation is simple, because Allegiance hosts the system. “We do all the heavy lifting,” Heaps says. “All the health care organization has to do is incorporate a link into their intranet. We build a custom landing page for the customer, which includes a custom sub-domain. And if they don’t want to do that, an employee can simply go to and submit an alert. We’ve found that employees have much more confidence in the anonymity of a third-party system.”

When employees log onto the SilentWhistle system, they are immediately greeted with an endorsement from a high-visibility administrator—such as a hospital CEO—as well as an assurance of confidentiality. Allegiance also can build in a link to the company handbook or ethics policy. “When an employee clicks on the ‘Provide Feedback Now’ button, the program shows that there will be six steps to the process,” Heaps says. “We ask them to agree with the disclaimer that this system is for anonymous reporting and is not to be taken lightly.”

In the first step of reporting, the employee identifies his or her relationship with the organization; Allegiance can customize this step as well, providing access to patients for an extra fee. In the second step, the employee notes what type of submission—alert, suggestion, or question—is being introduced, and in the case of an alert, goes on to identify the alert type. For example, under the category of human resources, alerts can be identified as relating to harassment, violence, and discrimination.

“Let’s say I’m going to submit an alert under fraud and embezzlement,” Heaps explains. “The next page is customized according to my previous response, and I’ll fill in the answers to specific questions surrounding the alert—the names of individuals involved in the incident, if I believe that management is aware of this, how long this has been occurring, how I became aware of it, and who else observed it.”

Alerts are sent to at least two administrators for review; administrators can correspond anonymously with employees, providing an unprecedented level of thoroughness in addressing reports. An administrator dashboard displays pending submissions in a format modeled after an e-mail inbox, facilitating better organization; meanwhile, employees can log back in to see how their submission is being managed.

Although most alerts are submitted through the Web, Allegiance also carefully maintains its call center. “We hire college-educated individuals and take them through an extensive training in dealing with ethics situations,” Heaps says. “It’s critical that we have the most professional individuals.” Operators are available 24/7.

Accounts are highly customizable and created with the help of an implementation manager assigned by Allegiance. For more information, visit

Cat Vasko is associate editor of Axis Imaging News. For more information, contact .

Six Steps to Successful Physician Marketing

When Valley Diagnostic Imaging Services, Renton, Wash, purchased and installed its first open MRI system, Marketing Director Rebecca Middleton was assigned the challenge of spreading the word to referring physicians in a market already saturated with two open MRIs at competing imaging centers. With no budget for patient marketing and a strictly limited budget for physician marketing, Middleton and her team leveraged their available resources into an RBMA Quest Award-winning campaign. Axis Imaging News spoke with Middleton about the challenges that Valley Diagnostic faced—and steps to conquering any market, however thorny the circumstances.

Puzzles were a part of Valley Diagnostics’ open house invitation. “Each physician received a small designer box with puzzle pieces inside and the invitation attached to the top,” explains Marketing Director Rebecca Middleton. “The goal was to get their attention, and each invitation was hand delivered. We had roughly 100 physicians and nursing staff attend.”

1) Focus on Physicians

“We didn’t go after the general public,” Middleton says. “Once I met with a marketing group who explained that parents will spend more time choosing a cell phone for their children than they will choosing where they go for an MRI. Most people go where their doctor tells them, even though they’re dealing with their health and their bodies. People tend to feel they aren’t qualified to make those decisions.”

2) Take Advantage of the Resources You Have

Without a big budget, “we really took advantage of what we could already leverage,” Middleton explains. “We wrote in the funding for our open house as part of the equipment purchase agreement. We did joint marketing with the hospital department [Valley Medical Center], using their existing resources like the [facility’s] community magazine. We put posters up all around the campus, and participated in an internal employee newsletter that goes to all the employees of Valley Medical Center.” After that, all Valley Diagnostic had to pay for was printed materials, which Middleton mailed to local physicians at a low cost.

3) Educate Your Audience

“Our number one priority was to educate referring physicians about the new higher-field open MRI: its exams, what opportunities were available for claustrophobic and obese patients, and the image quality,” Middleton says.

4) Remember the Physicians’ Wants

Don’t forget that physicians have different priorities than patients, Middleton warns. “Physicians care about things like the ease of scheduling or the quick turnaround of results; scheduling and access; and simple, clear, definitive reports,” she says. “From our experience, they don’t think so much about technology. Specialists seem to, but family practice clinicians just want to know that we’re going to take care of their patients, and that if they call to schedule, we’re going to help them pick the exam that’s right for them. They don’t want to hear any complaints from their patients. The better we can take care of the patient start to finish, the happier the physician is.”

5) Make the Physician Look Good

Never underestimate the power of bolstering a referring physician’s image. “Every physician wants to look good,” Middleton explains. “A lot of times, physicians order the wrong exam, or don’t have the right order form, but if you can present it like the physician didn’t drop the ball, you’re going to come out ahead. Make the physician look like a champion.”

6) Don’t Forget Your Staff

Middleton warns that failure to market internally can be just as catastrophic as failure to market externally—so be certain you have the last piece of the puzzle in place. “Make sure your staff is aware of what’s happening in your center,” she says. “There’s nothing worse than a physician calling in and asking something and one of your staff members says, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’ Make sure everyone’s on board.”