We just returned from the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2013 in New Orleans, LA. I had the privilege of participating in the Young Ophthalmologists program where a variety of professionals speak about various aspects of a young doctors’ career.
My message to the young ophthalmologists was understand the merits of marketing, to engage patients digitally and to exhibit transparency. The reason? As AAO president Paul Sternberg, M.D. stressed….because we (ophthalmologists) must continue to adapt and understand the needs of our patients.
Understand Marketing vs. Advertising
Physicians must need to understand basic marketing.
Marketing is not advertising. Marketing studies the needs and wants of your clients (patients) and provides a solution.
Modern patients want 3 things;
- Health information
- Doctors who engage digitally
- Doctors and Practices which display transparency
More than 75% of Americans first venture to the web when looking for health information and looking for a doc.
Google ranks websites based upon the quality of the content of a website.
Doctors have a golden opportunity to provide quality health related content on their websites. This content educates patients and is used as a fuel to gain high rankings…it’s a “win-win.”
Patients are looking for credible health related content and doctors get rewarded by getting their websites ranked. Now the website becomes a powerful marketing tool to attract new patients!
Just as many offices offer convenience by having Saturday or evening hours, we must learn to understand the needs of our patients. Patients expect to find fresh and relevant information on the web about their doctors.
There are different ways and levels to digitally engage patients.
At the very least, everyone should have a website. If no website, your office basically doesn’t exist, even if the office location is across the street.
Doctors may choose to add content on their website. “Content” would come in the form of articles which talk about health related issues. Credible articles on health issues brings value to the website and the doctor. With value, comes trust.
The most engaging types of websites are interactive blogs. This is the most compelling type of website, has the best marketing potential and engages patients. This public display of a “conversation” is the purest form of social media.
I often speak about the quest to find doctors who are people. This may indeed be the modern “bedside” manner. Through a well constructed web presence, a patient should be able to determine some basic elements about their doctors.
Memberships to elite organizations, diplomas from fancy schools, membership plaques, etc. usually adorn our office walls. Unfortunately, these have little relevance to our patients.
Instead, young doctors must consider distinguishing themselves as who they are vs. what they are. In my office and on my website, I often refer to my personal hobbies, interests and activities. These personal attributes are much more relevant to any non-medical person.
Not to sure about sharing personal attributes? Then consider sharing some of your practice philosophies.
A medical practice is a small business. Every small business, except for medical practices, operates transparently.
Review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s list are popular due to the relevance to the consumer. Friendliness of staff, cleanliness of the office, ease of appointments, time spent with the doctor, etc. are all important factors when patients chose a doctor.
Every other business runs transparently. Review sites for doctors are going to increase, not disappear.