Providing Quality Personalized Newsletters and Medical Practice Websites Around Australia [Interview][Transcript]

Parry_Aliferis_Your_HealthGuest: Parry Aliferis
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Parry Aliferis is Editor and Publisher of ‘Your Health’, a National quarterly newsletter distributed to GPs for their patients. He also designs websites for GPs and specialists to help them communicate and educate their patients – as well as advising them on Social Media strategy. Before becoming Editor of Your Health in 2012, Parry held senior management roles in Banking Operations and Customer Service Strategy.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, have the opportunity to promote your medical practice online with the expert assistance from Your Health. We are joined by their Editor and Publisher Parry Aliferis to share more information about their firm as well as the various services they provide. Aside from offering quarterly health publications and websites to medical practices, they can also provide tools like that of free online appointments and other patient- request services.

Transcription

Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. Today my guest is Parry Aliferis and Parry joins us from Sydney in Australia and he is the Editor and Brand Manager of Your Health. Parry welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Parry Aliferis: Thanks Wayne. It’s great to be on the line with you today and looking forward to having a chat.

W: Now Parry Your Health is not a business name that sort of tells me instantly what it is you do. It was Harry’s Plumbing, I have a really good idea what that business did but Your Health doesn’t kind a give me the whole picture, so fill me in on what it is that Your Health does.

P: Sure Wayne. Look and point taken as well in the unfortunate position we’ve inherited the name that was invented about 17 years ago, but I get that kind of feedback all the time. So look just a brief overview of what we do, the service was started by a GP and he created a newsletter basically … which is a way of him communicating and educating his patients while they were in the waiting room. So it basically spread from one GP’s philosophy to try and provide his patients with quality informative information about health and general health topics while they were waiting for him in his practice. And then it eventually spread throughout Australia and became I guess one of the leading GP publications in that it’s a publication GPs subscribe to, usually on an annual basis and it’s information that they can provide to their patients to read while they’re waiting. It’s also a way of them maybe meeting their accreditation needs. So part of the accreditation requirements for GPA, and AGPAL is that for instance the practice information must be available to the patient in a printed format. So often what we do is we couple it through together, we put something that isn’t I guess a mandatory or a central requirement under the GP accreditation requirements and we couple that with I guess an attractive and professionally printed newsletters that they can read while they are waiting. So it serves two purposes, as well as the printed material which is the quarterly publication that we send out to our subscribers, we also now coupled that with the website, as you can imagine a lot of businesses and GPs are eventually getting over the line in terms of going digital and getting websites so we do provide the information that we have printed as well as giving the GPs a website, so that they have those big information online. So the visiting patients and new patients can find them, and I guess get some information before going in to see them. So that’s the two products, now there’s the printed and also the electronic copy of the newsletter, the website as well. So hopefully that gives you a bit more of an idea about what we do.

W: Yeah, it does Parry. And it’s one of those things that you just never noticed until your attention is drawn to it. I’ve seen similar material in GP surgery and it might even been your material and it’s just never occurred to me that somewhere behind the scenes is someone that has to write and edit and publish this material before it can find its way to the coffee table and the waiting room.

P: That’s right. And that’s one of our I guess biggest challenges it terms of the future making that material stand out and relevant amongst all the other publications and magazines all that sort of paraphernalia that sits around in the doctor waiting surgery.

W: You’re probably competing going against three copies of Women’s weekly, so that could be a challenge.

P: (laugh) That’s right. There are some very informative articles in there, as well I think.

W: So Parry do you write the material for the issues yourselves? Or is it written by GPs themselves? Or how does the clinical material get produced?

P: Yeah, good question. So obviously the original owner of the business was a GP himself so he was qualified to research and write the material. Given that I’m not a GP, I prefer not to take the risks so we have a qualified medical writer who researches and writes all the articles. We go through a planning cycle every sort of quarter straight after to the … the conditions or whether it be new treatment, a couple of advices and plans. So very much try to I guess balance out a lot of the not very well researched hype I guess that can pop-up into the mass media and try to bring a balance, look at a lot of those topics As you know a lot of people tend to read the headline and think “Oh okay that’s great, I’ll go and get that supplement.” Or “That must be the right answer and this new treatment’s going to work for me.” And obviously part of what we do through our education by the GP to the patients is to try and balance out some of that material and give some perspective and of course as we know in the medical world, things that might sound great or might have been trialed on a very small number of people aren’t necessarily what they appear to be or haven’t gone through the efficacy process to become proven treatments … So a lot of that is in terms of the writing and the research that we do is to I guess balance out some of those topics that are out there in the mass media.

W: Yes, there’s cause often a degree of balance needed particularly if the original research is being undertaken by people that have a financial interest in the product. Whilst they say might be factually correct often, the nuance and the balance is not portrayed as fairly as it might be if it were a disinterested party writing it.

P: That’s right. And so the peer review process, it’s another very important part of what we do in terms of our research and publications. So all of our articles are reviewed by a panel of GPs for accuracy so that we ensure that there is a balance there. And I guess for many people we want to hear that something that we’ve heard on the news or in a snippet or in a headline is the answer for our ailments. Quite often it takes a lot more time and a lot more peer review studies and things like that before it is medically proven. And because of the time that it takes, I think a lot of people get frustrated and think “Well I’ll just do my little trial at home.” But of course the side effects and long term effects of things that need to be researched before we can start a new treatment for something.

W: Now Parry I’ve been reading your website and I see you offer some other services to general practitioners as well?

P: Yes, that’s right. So when I mentioned, I talked about briefly the electronic distribution of the newsletter. As we know a lot more patients are looking for their information online. And what we find often is that there can be a disparity between the readiness of the GP to offer websites and electronic services, but on the other side the needs of the patient and the consumer. So what we try and do to make it easy for the GP if you like, we handle the electronic subscription to our newsletter and websites and reminders and things like that online. We also work with an online appointment service so that we can provide a free online appointments to GPs. So that if it’s something that and quite often in the case where to a smaller GP practice, there might be only you know one or two or you know less than 5 GPs for instance, they don’t have the time to necessarily go out and research web designs and online appointments and compare all the different services. So what we can offer them is I guess getting set up as a one-stop solution. Being able to set up their newsletters, their website, online appointments and have an electronic copy of the newsletter as well. So we try to make it as easy as possible for GPs to get those services up and running because we feel that there is such benefit and that there is such a strong demand by patients for those services.

W: Yeah and I had clinicians say to me “Look I don’t demand plumbing, I’m not a plumber. I don’t demand electrical work, I’m not an electrician, and I don’t want to do my own computer work, I just want someone to make it work.”

P: Well that’s right. And it’s so much easier now like probably 5 years ago or say you needed to get an expert hand and you end up that being a webmaster for … a day and you couldn’t get rid of them. But there’s lot of services like ours now that kind of make it a very easy step through process for you to do that. So yeah, why would you? I mean a GP’s time is much more valuable than the many of ours so … we always advocate as they spend time looking after patients rather than try to become web designers or programmers.

W: About 95% of our audience are clinicians of one kind or another. What’s the take away message for them as a result of having heard you chat with us today?

P: Yeah Wayne look, I think the take away message for everyone listening today is that it’s about “education.” Educating the patient as much as possible and that it doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems, I think essentially better communication between the clinician and their patient or the GP and the patient and this works in a whole range of settings as well. But establishing better trust really starts with better communication, and the more resources that we can provide to our patients, the more confidence and trust they’ll part with us. And the more likely they are to proceed with our services then I guess to recommend us to others so it really becomes an advocacy issue. And now the other take away message I guess is that there’s people out there that can do it probably and get you up and running faster that you could yourself. So it doesn’t have to be as hard or perhaps a pain at sometimes.

W: Parry my favorite question in every interview, in every industry there are misconceptions. What are the misconceptions in your industry that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?

P: Well definitely some of them definitely drive me nuts, sometimes they keep me awake at night. But look I think just leading on from my previous point is the fact that obviously there’s a lot more accessibility around things like websites and newsletters and things like that. A lot of people, I think one of the biggest misconception is that “Well it’s just easy so I might as well do this myself or do it in-house.” And seeing of our some of our clinicians and some of our GPs make a mistake of thinking that things were just “They look easy so they must be easy.” And then beyond the line inevitably they’ll hit hurdles around either the quality of the work or they end up having to hirer 2 or 3 different contractors, so they end up actually over complicating a life for them a bit. So yeah, probably the biggest misconception is that it’s easy to do. I think like anything that when someone does something really well, they can make it look easy but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the case. There’s a lot of background work and research that’s probably gone into it. So yeah, that’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions that drives me crazy.

W: Well with a little bit of luck, we’ll help you dispel some of that amongst some of our listeners today having heard you chat with us. I do appreciate your time Parry, thank you for joining us on the radio.

P: Thank you Wayne. And I appreciate your time as well.

W: You’ve been listening to my conversation with Parry Aliferis, the Editor and Brand Manager of Your Health. Now if you’ve just missed our chat, then you missed a very informative look into some of the services that are available for GPs. The good news however is, we have a transcript of our conversation on our website, we’ve also got the full interview as an audio archive on YouTube and on SoundCloud. You can access all of those through our website at www.hpr.fm. And if you’d like some more information or to get in touch with Parry, you can go to their website at www.yourhealth.net.au. This is Wayne Bucklar, you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio.