20 Oct AAO Chicago 2010: Social Media and Medicine
I just returned from the American Academy of Ophthalmology held in Chicago. It is the largest ophthalmology meeting in the world. It is a great way for me to get my CME (continuing medical education) credits and have fun with friends and family.
The AAO is the largest in the world. This year the meeting was combined with MEACO (Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology). There were a lot of people in town. Conservatively, I’d guess 30-35,000 were in Chicago for the 4 day event.
Continuing Medical Education (CME)
Every physician is required to attend educational activities during the year to maintain state licensure. Attending classes and lectures are the most common ways to fulfill these requirements.
I went to learn how ophthalmologists are using their web pages, social media and the Internet to educate their patients and grow their practice.
“Build It and They Will Come”
Most doctors still feel that by simply building website, patients will flock through their doors. So many of my friends (doctors) are planning to “refurbish” their websites with the expectations of improved rankings and visibility. They have no understanding of how to really improve their rankings.
Many practices have a web site, but use the site as a reference page. The site contains office hours, locations, insurance in formation, etc. The patients that use these sites are already known to the practice.
The only way for a medical practice to improve their exposure is to construct a website (or blog like this one) and provide relevant content that is refreshed at a regular rate. This method, called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is the only method that can work for a medical practice.
As a reward for providing fresh new content, Google (Yahoo and Bing, too) will elevate these sites in the rankings. It has nothing to do with fancy graphics and a new design.
What Does This Mean? Doctors are finally embracing the Internet. They don’t know how to use it, but at least they have their heads out of the sand are pointed in the right direction. By embracing the Internet, they are admitting that most patients now use the Internet. It will take several more years for medical docs to “get it,” but at least it’s a start.
As an aside, I was overwhelmed, and encouraged, by how much I’ve learned over the past 20 months. The last time I was in Chicago was 20 months ago. Amy, my wife, an attorney and Internet guru, brought us to a premier Internet marketing seminar.
She is why I started this blog. There is a lot of “white space” with medicine and the Internet…alot.