Raise your hands if you would like to know more about your doctor before you enter their office … and be able to further educate yourself after you have left.
You’re not alone !
Ok… who’s paying attention? Doctors are human beings… so are patients. Some people trust and get along with one another … some, not so much.
It would be nice if you were able to get to know more about your doctor before you entered the four walls of their office (and perhaps waited an hour to see them).
A typical “parking spot” style physicians’ website with purchased pictures, limited content, and their address and telephone number isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Physicians have a moral obligation to educate their patients. Patients are looking for information online. Some are being misled by nonsense information posted by disreputable sources! Physicians should, therefore, endeavor to create content and enter the digital and social space to educate patients. Think of it as extending your relevance and pushing out your shareable knowledge base beyond the four walls of your practice.
A deep digital presence can also go a very long way in terms of “humanizing your presence”, and enabling your patients to determine if they think you are a proper fit. After all… we’re in this together as a team. If one member of the team doesn’t trust the other… game over.
As Sarah-Jayne Gratton describes in this interview:
… patients don’t want to talk to a faceless, nameless entity; they want to sense the person behind it — the personal. They want to like and get to know you, not just interact with your business. Remember that emotions are everything — they always have been and they always will be. Without them we cease to be human and we cease to invest in the human race.
While the numbers of physicians who are developing a deep online presence is growing… very few physicians (and healthcare organizations) understand the complexities and dynamics which accompany a web presence rich enough to enable, engage, comfort and educate patients.
You are your brand. You can not separate your own voice from that of your brand. Powerful branding comes as a natural extension of a purposeful (perhaps altruistic) inbound initiative because of your presence.. and is simply icing on the cake.
Sarah goes on …
… it’s so important to acknowledge the fact that today’s patients, consumers and clients have the ability to communicate online all day, every day, sharing, tweeting and blogging about how they feel. Sentiment is oozing out of every post they make, and we should not fear it, but instead, embrace it as the new lifeblood of branding. The ability to listen and understand how our patients feel (whether good or bad), what is important to them and what their expectations are, provides huge opportunities for forming the emotional allegiances needed for enduring personal brand loyalty.
So what’s the dilemma? Adopting a new media presence to push your digital content and to enable patients to ‘meet” you on their terms represents a change… and change is painful and evokes a fear response in many. But change is necessary, and social media is not going away.
We need to be the change we wish to see… or in this case, the change our patients want to see.
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Eric B says
Great thoughts, Dr. Luks. I really agree with this article along with your “It’s Where Your Patients Are.”
As a patient, it is a prerequisite for me (and most others) to check various sites to see how a doctor is viewed even before making an appointment. It is a bonus to find a website, especially one that isn’t run of the mill and vanilla. It’s easy to place doctors up on a pedestal (and deservedly so), but to see a website with info, pictures, videos, etc can really help the patient get a more personal and meaningful view into the person who will be treating them.
I think putting in this effort can only help a doctor’s cause, both in how he practices, the relationship he has with his patients, as well as how he does on the business side of things.
Howard J. Luks, MD says
Eric… Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments!
Dana Wechsler Linden says
I totally agree with you that physicians have a responsibility to educate, and that many patients are now being misled by information from unreliable sources. But the time investment to create their own original content is so enormous (we know first-hand!) that we think physicians can (and should) also do this with help from third-party content they trust, when it’s available. This is what we hope neonatologists will do with the MyPreemie app for parents of premature babies. (My co-authors and I helped create it but do not profit from it.) If they point parents to entries in it to understand what’s happening with their babies, the app can provide basic information without the doctor having to compose it him/herself, and it then suggests to parents questions on each topic to ask the doctor about their baby, so the physician can take it from there, educating on the specific case – with a big burden of creating some content relieved. To help inform patients, we hope physicians will embrace and encourage use of reliable, well-done, online or app content as part of their tool kit.