Online presence for doctors
Let me start off by saying why I am writing this. I happened to search the name of a laparoscopic surgeon on Google the first thing that came up was a website Mouthshut.com where people write reviews on various products and services. The two people had used foul language to describe the doctor and attacked his credibility for reasons unknown. I happen to know the doctor as being of high repute for his skills and academics and popular among other laproscopic surgeons. But any layman or patient searching his name on being referred would end up developing a very different perspective about him.
Don’t Let Others Control You
It’s important to note that if you don’t have control of your online presence, someone else might. There’s no telling what a random stranger will do with your name, so make sure that doesn’t happen by controlling yours now.
Let’s say you’re a patient. You’re about to undergo a major surgery – knee replacement, triple bypass, back surgery – you name it. You get the name of the Surgeon only to find out you’ve never heard of them. You do a google search… nothing. You try the clinic / hospital’s website. Also nothing. As a patient who is about to have a major surgery, do you stick with the unknown, or do you find a surgeon whose reputation you can actually access?For many, the answer is a quick and decisive ‘find someone you can read about.’ It brings a sense of security when you can read about a doctor’s professional history.
Therefore it is essential for you, as a medical practitioner, to manage and control your own online presence. Doing so will ensure that your content appears in the search results when a patient Googles your name.
“Don’t leave yourself at the mercy of online content about yourself that is generated from business directories, medical review sites and articles that feature your name. These platforms can be misleading or supply incorrect information about your practice and often have paid ranking for displaying search results.”
What is an online presence?
It refers to you creating content about yourself on the Internet, either on a website, blog or social media platform. You will find that many international opinion leaders are motivating doctors to get involved on social media, but at the same time to be professional and careful when doing so. Don’t view an online presence as advertising and an opportunity to gain more patients (which many doctors don’t need), but rather as a tool to make your life easier.
“Every Doctor needs to be aware what information is out there about them. All must regularly search their name in Google and see in what order information appear in search pages”
Why Online presence?
Patients are online
According to latest studies conducted, it is evident that more than 85% of people go online when looking for health information. Now, 80% of them start with the search engines, while others use social media platforms and blogs. As a medical practitioner, your patients are among those who are constantly using the Internet to self-diagnose and conduct research on medical conditions, surgical procedures and different treatment options. And while these“research” options are available, your patients should have this information presented to them by their treating physician rather than relying on random websites. Social media platforms such as Facebook are also used to enquire and read reviews written about local doctors and some of these may not always be to our advantage. This is a great opportunity to grow your practice and establish your brand on multiple platforms.
Having an online presence for your clinic is similar to having a hoarding of your clinic on a main road. It serves as a real-estate on the web, which will promote your name on the internet to a very targeted audience. People who see your clinic’s name on the internet regularly would be able to recall your name the next time they are looking for a doctor and will in all probability consult you. You shall definitely reap long term benefits once you start promoting yourself on the internet.
You will need to target your marketing efforts to patients in your local area. Search engines such as Google understand this, and with a little bit of help, businesses can get an online presence and target people in their locality. This is an online marketing strategy that healthcare professionals like yourself can take advantage of and reach many patients that are searching for services.
Build credibility and integrity
Just like in other businesses, healthcare professionals need to establish a certain level of credibility in order to win more patients. But how do they do this? How do patients decide whether you are the right doctor to visit? It’s simple. Online reviews! When you have an online presence, patients that you have previously treated or helped will write reviews about your services and probably rate you. If you are good at what you do, then you are guaranteed to have many good reviews, which ultimately translate to more patients. That’s the power of an online presence.
As a healthcare practitioner, how do you ensure that you build trust with your existing patients as well as potential ones? One of the ways to do it is creating trustworthy content and posting it to your blog and social media platforms. Sometimes patients may not be interested with how great you claim you are or how good your facility looks. They want you to share your knowledge so they can make the right decision. Offer this information, addressing all their concern through your website or Facebook or Twitter page. This is how build trust and get long-term patients.
Setting up an online presence for your clinic is completely free. You can get started by creating free accounts for your clinic on popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Google Plus along with registering your clinic in online classifieds. Then there are dedicated websites that focus exclusively on helping patients find doctors in a particular locality.
How to create online presence
Mark your Presence on Google
Everyone is using Google to find any local service or their contact details. People don’t look into directories but online. Thus, as a medical practitioner, if you want them to find you, mark your presence.
“ Adding your name and address to online directories are like double edge sword since these website are better ranked in Google they appear first but your name in the directory pages depend on other factors like sponsored results so rather have your own website or Practice page as first in Google search”
A better option is to register your name and practice with google as my business these appear on right side of search page.
- Visit https://www.google.com/business/
- Add you practice details working hours contact number etc mark it on google maps.
- Get verification code sent by post card home and verify your practice all for FREE.
Create account on social media like Facebook
Always create a separate page for your clinic/practice. Do not create a separate account for you clinic, you can create it as a business page from your personal account the advantage is you can interact with your patient as your clinic or as a person within same account.
Creating a facebook page is very simple follow the instructions
Make your personal website
A website will be the first point of contact for anybody trying to know or approach you, thus make sure it is crafted by an expert and speaks well of your services. Provide easy details about your background with a smiling photo, contact number and your address. Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices so that you appear on top when people search for their needs and you will soon know what are the advantages of the having a website or an online presence.
Communicate with your patients
- Provide your patients with an e-mail platform so that they can use the correct channel should they wish to lodge an official complaint or enquire to make a booking.
- Make downloadable documents available such as:
- A “new patient” form to fill out prior to their first visit.
- Informational documents about how to prepare themselves before a procedure and what to expect after the procedure.
- Cholesterol and diabetic diet sheets and other relevant information.
- Your billing protocols.
- Promote a specific area of interest that you might have.
- Promote your own expertise in certain procedures that you perform.
- Share content or video material on medical conditions and procedures that you want your patients to see.
Paid ads on Google Facebook and Digital marketing is a whole different topic.That is something which has its own pros and cons and would not discuss on this platform.
Will Social Media Have the Final Word?
Doctors without an online presence do indeed risk becoming irrelevant in regards to the networking platforms available on the Internet; physicians who still reject cultivating a presence, whatever the reason, should talk to a trusted friend, mentor, or colleague to get a fresh perspective on their reasoning and concerns about the consequences of remaining out of this popular communication platform.
“If you don’t have a social media presence doesn’t mean you’re not a good physician in the traditional sense, but maybe it’s your rigid tradition that holds you back from being a great one.”
In closing, Physicians need to take control of their online presence to ensure prospective patients (and for that matter, prospective colleagues, nominating committees, associations, recruiters, the media, family members and friends) see them and their professional achievements in the best possible light.