I just returned from New Orleans. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2013, just finished. Upwards of 25,000 people attended this largest “eye” meeting in the world.
Again, I went to teach about the merits of utilizing a website (like this) and social media to improve communications with patients and to develop a modern approach to marketing.
Amy and I founded Medical Marketing Enterprises, LLC 3 years ago to formally introduce these concepts to professional organizations.
The Young Ophthalmologists is a group within the American Academy of Ophthalmology. To be a member, you must be in training (resident or fellow), belong to the AAO, or be in your first five years of practice.
During my presentations on SEO and Social Media, I emphasized the need for young professionals to start a website immediately, understand the merits of adopting transparency (both personal and as a business) and to respond the wants and needs of modern patients.
To other groups, I instructed on the basics of starting a website and the rudiments of content marketing…the only way to rank a website.
One of the basics of SEO, search engine optimization, is that your website must be time tested and trusted. Not only must your content be important, but the age of the URL (the www.YourWebsiteHere.com) is very important to search engines such as Google. Google puts little “trust” in websites less than a year old (too many black hat sites come and go).
Therefore, a young ophthalmologist in training will fare better if starting a website now versus waiting until he/she obtains the first job. Simply writing periodically to keep the website “fresh” will slowly build an online audience.
After a couple of years, a significant online following may develop which is portable and therefore, a ready made marketing force. Think of searching for a job coming with your own marketing!
Doctors are not used to being transparent. In this modern age, patients (you) demand their physicians have personal transparency and operate transparent medical practices.
Personal transparency means that a person demonstrates who they are versus what they are. In the case of physicians, it is vital for doctors to distinguish ourselves by who we are as a person and not what we are as professionals. Those physicians who are able to best convey human elements of themselves (e.g. father of five, hockey manager, Dunkin’ Donuts, loves labradors and tennis) will be far more successful in engaging patient than their counterparts.
Too common are physicians who attempt to distinguish themselves by describing memberships in elite societies, being products of special programs and having interests in research in highly esoteric diseases…none of this is relevant to the typical patient.
Before making a purchasing decision, going to the movies or eating at a restaurant, many of us rely on the reviews. Why wouldn’t the same hold true for selecting a doctor?
Every other small business operates transparently. The public is now demanding that we (doctors), too, operate transparently. Review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List are powerful statements about a doctors ability to run a small business. Review sites are abundant because they are vital to our ability to make decisions.
While many doctors fear online reviews, they are here to stay.
What Does This Mean?
In short, the digital age has given our patients a voice. Modern patients, irrespective of age, want to find transparency in their docs. I think this is the new bedside manner. Patients also expect to find cogent reviews about practices who care how they run their office…as a business.
Communication is vital to a doctor-patient relationship. Long gone is the era of scarcity marketing where the doctor was able to leverage his knowledge about health.
Patients now have multiple resources to learn about their health, not solely health professionals, and are now demanding their doctors be knowledgeable, transparent and willing to engage digitally!