Before the Internet, a doctor’s marketing efforts were usually limited to a Yellow Page phonebook ad that contained a contact number and an address, but that was then. Today it is easy to see why doctors should love the web. Whether it is debating medical issues with peers or promoting healthy patient behaviors, the Internet offers a physician a variety of online tools to publish original content and engage with patients, caregivers, medical students, colleagues and the public about a broad range of topics.
Opportunities for membership in online medical associations have long been seen by most doctors as an easy mechanism for establishing an online presence. It was, however, the unexpected need for virtual medicine during the pandemic that forced doctors to view online communications in more creative ways. Many found virtual healthcare designed around a patient’s needs allowed them to digitally interact, educate, and engage. So much so, telehealth is expected to play an ongoing role in delivering quality medical care to those most in need.
Med Students Played a Major Role in Telemedicine
Whereas Guglielmo Marconi is credited with being first to develop radio transmission (wireless telegraphy), the first vocal signals in America were heard over the airways in 1906 outside Boston. But up to the end of World War I, radios were primarily used for emergency communications with ships at sea and the quality of sound was often questionable. Two decades later, when radiology images needed to be transmitted between two Pennsylvania townships, marked the birth of electronic medical record (EMR) transfer.
In 1959, medical students at the University of Nebraska were among the first to use two-way video communication after the university installed a system to transmit information across campus. With a growing need to serve many rural communities that did not have local physician access, the technology led to early forms of telemedicine in America. By the late 1960s, the University of Miami School of Medicine had developed a system for fire rescue to transmit a patient’s electrocardiographic rhythms directly to local emergency hospitals.
Even before the outbreak of coronavirus, telehealth technology had already seen a reduction in size of medical devices used as mobile health tools to track the wearer’s vitals wirelessly while recording and transmitting crucial data in real time. Recently, to lessen a doctor’s daily administrative tasks, two Stanford medical students co-founded a company that uses Google Glass to automatically transcribe important medical records in real time during a patient visit. And, the reasons why doctors should love the web continues to grow.
Using the Web to Brand Your Career
Practices across the broad spectrum of medical specialties have websites to provide patients with important information about their healthcare services, doctors and staff, office locations, phone numbers, and even online scheduling of appointments through a patient portal. So, there is little doubt that the Internet will continue to be an essential medium for delivering a host of virtual healthcare services to patients living in the busiest urban environments as well as those in the most remote rural communities.
Professional organizations offer doctors an online presence were physician-only social networking platforms allow doctors to communicate, share medical information, and even collaborate in real time. But, where private social communities provide a welcomed layer of protection against breaches in compliance over information crowdsourcing, only having a website and membership in private medical networks does not fully connect a doctor to the bulk of a community’s internet users.
Content Builds Meaningful Connections
To say that the Internet can boost branding is an understatement. That’s exactly what this medium is intended to do, but only if you participate by connecting with others. Whether you have a natural sense of humor or are more serious minded, the best part is that you can be you. In fact, you don’t have to have writing skills, as there are numerous medical content providers available to collaborate with physicians as a ghost writer. Discussed below are popular platforms for delivering medical content:
- White Papers – Physicians who are interested in producing authoritative reports that addresses a complex topic and the problems surrounding it may prefer a white paper format. White papers are intended to inform readers concisely about a well-researched topic while presenting the author’s point of view.
- Blogs – Medical blogs are a perfect tool for connecting online, but it is crucial to develop original content that resonates with the community. Since most physicians do not have time to write, it is important to find an experienced writer who can create content that brands the physician(s) and builds community confidence in the practice.
- eBooks and Articles – Some physicians enjoy writing and the Internet has endless opportunities for publishing articles and/or eBooks related to anything medical. Google’s algorithms look for content with authoritative authorship and your credentials provide a unique level of credibility. Just remember, both humans and algorithms are searching for answers.
- Social Media Posts – Physicians do not typically write social media posts but they shouldn’t overlook the importance it can have in keeping the practice better connected to members of the community. Social media is where all types of information can be published quickly. But posts should be “short and sweet” as a more personable connection.
- Information Aggregation – When doctors collaborate on an issue, chances are someone is going to author a report and each participating physician’s name is included. By tracking a member’s content whenever it is named as a cited source, medical websites like Doximity can help build a network of links that flag the information as pertinent for search algorithms to crawl.
Whether you enjoy writing or hate it with a passion, it is important to learn as much as you can about why doctors should love the web. A recent study suggested that two-thirds of the patients asked indicated they chose a provider based on his or her online presence. So, whether it operates as business or a non-profit, every medical practice should have a content strategy to allow doctors and staff to have a better way to engage, educate, and interact with the online community. Marketing yourself as a physician and your practice as a healthcare organization will seem much easier after you focus on what you want to say.
Dr. Hans Wolf devoted decades to developing WOLFPACC’s methodology for helping medical students understand how to apply the basic sciences that they’ve already learned to the practice of medicine. If you’re ready to be the best physician you can be, contact us today to schedule a USMLE or COMLEX review program.
Photo credit Karolina Grabowska