Who's watching you? Managing the Internet to position yourself for success (Proceedings)


A web site is a way for you to communicate with your current and future clients, answer frequently asked questions, tell the history of your practice, introduce your services and the veterinarians who provide them, and share who you are and what you do.


     a. 5 reasons why you need it

          i. Research diseases, new technology and products and additional services - Connect to the AVMA, veterinary colleges, research sites to keep up with the most current information. Look at and research new products that are coming on the market, read other's reviews of these products.

          ii. Web site - This is a way for you to communicate with your current and future clients, answer frequently asked questions, tell the history of your practice, introduce your services and the veterinarians who provide them, and share who you are and what you do. You can provide them with links to research behavioral or medical issues for their pets as well as back issues of your newsletter.

          iii. Communication

               1. Clients - via email for reminders, newsletters, general communication

               2. Vendors (ordering)

               3. Your accountant - send and receive information

               4. Other veterinarians - chat, discuss issues, stay in touch

               5. Electronic faxes - do away with all the paper and easily keep track of important data

          iv. Internet pharmacy and store

               1. Advertising and Marketing

               2. Market your practice to the public and share updated/seasonally relevant information

               3. Announce open house or special promotions i.e. dental month

               4. Place ads and receive resumes from job applicants

     b. 4 ways to make it safe - employees don't realize or sometimes don't care about the threats that are out there when they are surfing the web. There are several ways that you can help to add layers of protection for your practice, your software, your employees' and your clients' privacy.

          i. Policy

               1. Computer, Email and Internet Usage Policy & Blogging Policy

Computer, Email and Internet Usage

Employees should not have the expectation of privacy in anything they create, store, send or receive on the computer system. The computer system belongs to [Practice Name] and may only be used for business purposes.

Employees are not to use the Internet for personal use. Internet access is provided at each terminal to enable employees to gather knowledge relevant to veterinary medicine. In our technological age, Internet access keeps us up-to-date and it is to be used properly by employees or access will be denied. Accessing pornographic or hate sites will be grounds for immediate dismissal. Material that is fraudulent, harassing, embarrassing, sexually explicit, profane, obscene, intimidating, defamatory, or otherwise unlawful, inappropriate, offensive (including offensive material concerning sex, race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, or other characteristics protected by law) or violate [Practice Name]'s equal employment opportunity policy and its policies against sexual or other harassment may not be downloaded from the Internet or displayed or stored in [Practice Name]'s computers.

Employees encountering or receiving this kind of material should immediately report the incident to their supervisor or the Practice Manager.

The email system is the private information system of [Practice Name]. Individuals using this system expressly consent to monitoring of their activities. Personal e-mail should be checked on personal time. Anything transmitted by, received from or stored in the email system are the property of [Practice Name] and employees should have no expectation of privacy in the connection with the use of the email system or the internet, or the transmission, receipt, or storage of information in that system.

Violation of this policy shall result in the appropriate disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

[Practice Name], in its discretion as owner of the e-mail system, reserves and may exercise the right to monitor, access, retrieve, and delete any matter stored in, created, received, or sent over the e-mail system, for any reason and without the permission of any employee. [Practice Name] intends to enforce this policy, but reserves the right to change it at any time as circumstances may require.

Blogging Policies and Guidelines

A blog, short for Web log, is a journal or diary posted on the Internet, a component of the World Wide Web. Having a personal blog is akin to publishing your own newspaper continuously and updating it regularly. Bloggers also may provide links to other blogs, or can reproduce part or all of other blogs on their own blog. Blogs have their own unique Web address, or location. Unless the blog's creator restricts access to the blog, the blog may be accessed by anyone on the Internet – including the estimated 262 million individuals who speak English and use the Internet.

In general, the hospital views personal websites and weblogs positively, and it respects the right of employees to use them as a medium of self-expression. If you choose to identify yourself as a [Practice Name] employee or to discuss matters related to our business on your website or weblog, please bear in mind that, although you and we view your website or weblog as a personal project and a medium of personal expression, some readers may nonetheless view you as a de facto spokesperson for the hospital. In light of this possibility, we ask that you observe the following guidelines:

     1. Blogging is a form of public communication. Your public communication concerning [Practice Name] must not violate any guidelines set forth in the employee policy manual whether or not you specifically mention your employee status.

     2. Disclaimer - Please make it clear to your readers that the views you express are yours alone and that they do not necessarily reflect the views of [Practice Name]. To help reduce the potential for confusion, we would appreciate it if you put the following notice – or something similar – in a reasonably prominent place on your site (e.g., at the bottom of your "about me" page):

The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

     3. Confidentiality - Be careful to avoid disclosing any information that is confidential or proprietary to the hospital or to any third party that has disclosed information to us. Consult the hospital's confidentiality policy for guidance about what constitutes confidential information.

     4. [Practice Name] prohibits blogging during work hours and intends the policy to address off-duty blogging.

     5. Company logo - The company logo is the property of [Practice Name] and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the owner. Any of the hospital's identifying marks also may not be included within the blog.

     6. Be Respectful - Your site or blog is a public space. The blog should not become a vehicle for personal attacks on the company, its services, its executives, supervisors, coworkers, competitors, our customers and others.

     7. You may not post any material that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to another person or entity. This includes but is not limited to comments regarding [Practice Name], its employees, owners, management or competitors.

     8. Harassment and Discrimination – The hospital expects employees to follow the policies on prohibiting discrimination and harassment.

If you have any questions about these guidelines or any matter related to your site that these guidelines do not address, please direct them to the practice manager.

     i) Programs

     ii) Security - viruses, cookies, worms, spyware - how mysterious and confusing can this become?

          a. Anti spy ware, virus protection, firewall, anti-spam - this sounds like a lot of software to keep track of but you can purchase this in a "bundled" package. Its only as good as you allow it to be. Your security software should be set it to automatically update so that it is always current.

     iii) Set up - your tech support will become your BFF (Best Friend Forever). They can help you to:

          1. Block web sites from employee access

          2. Create an on-line back-up system of all your data

     a. Website no longer an option – a necessity

          1. Do you have one?

          2. What does it look like?

          3. Does it represent the quality and excellence of your practice?

     b. What makes a web site effective?

          1. Splash

          2. Virtual tour

          3. Pictures, pictures and more pictures

          4. Interactive

          5. Eye appeal

          6. Ability to download forms

          7. Ability to acquire patient information

          8. Use as a marketing tool

     c. Establishing a shop site on your web site

     d. What would be the value to you and your clients?

          1. To be competitive in today's environment it is imperative for a practice to have a shop site on their web site

          2. Clients find it convenient to use the internet to order medications or food

     e. Neutralize internet pharmacies - stay competitive

     f. Maintain control of your client base

     g. Offer products you don't want to inventory in your practice.

          1. You can determine what products you want to offer and the price you want your clients to pay for them.

          2. The item will come directly from the distributor of manufacturer with your practice name and return address printed on the label.

12 great sites –

     a) PayScale provides accurate, real-time salary reports based on job title, location, education, skills and experience www.payscale.com

     b) Guide to small business technology www.smallbusinesscomputing.com

     c) Windows software downloads www.download.com

     d) Offsite back up www.carbonite.com or www.livedrive.com

     e) Employment screening solutions for businesses www.hireright.com

     f) VetMedTeam online education resource www.vetmedteam.com and Veterinary Support Personnel Network www.vspn.org

     g) User Groups

     h) Federal Trade Commission website "How to Guide for Business complying with the Red Flag Rules - http://www.ftc.gov/redflagsrule

     i) Veterinary news, veterinary medical information, business advice, magazines, www.dvm360.com

     j) Live Scribe Pulse Smart Pen records and links audio to what you write so you never miss a word www.livescribe.com

     k) Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division - www.dol.gov/esa/whd/flsa/

     l) www.vmc-inc.com

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Angela Elia, BS, LVT, CVT, VTS (ECC)
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