Brand M.D.

This past weekend, I had the good fortune of attending a picnic in my neighborhood.  Have I ever told you how much I love picnics?  As I sat there consuming anything in sight, I struck up a conversation with a physician who, like me, was enjoying the barbeque.  He began to tell me about an unusual experience he had that afternoon in his office.  During a routine office visit with a new patient, he asked her how she came about selecting him as her primary care doctor.  She replied, “I read the reviews about you on Yelp and they were all positive so I decided to come see for myself.”  I thought he was joking and came to find out quickly that he was not.  For some odd reason, I was shocked to hear that a consumer would make a healthcare decision based on anonymous online feedback on Yelp of all places.  My curiosity now in overdrive I began to dig around a bit to uncover the relationship between physicians and online branding.  Boy, oh boy was I surprised.  I love learning new things.

Physicians and branding

Social Media adoption and personal branding among physicians is increasing at an extremely high rate.  Many physicians have recognized that they too are a brand. Hence, it is imperative that they manage their brand online, join online conversations to stay competitive, relevant, and busy.  With reimbursements at an all time low, being busy often equals increased revenue and in many cases survival. As transparency and competition for patients has increased, many physicians are now using social media to highlight their expertise, differentiate their services and develop a tighter connection with current and future patients.  In turn, patients are demanding more from physicians in terms of ways to connect with them. This includes iPhone apps, Facebook pages, Wi-Fi office connectivity, YouTube updates and other user-friendly tools enabling patients to have access to information and their providers more often.  I now get it when they talk about the “business of healthcare.”

My research on this subject was a great reminder of the power of the personal brand and social media.  If physicians are now doing it, there must be something to this social media stuff.  Right? There are potential clients right now doing online research on you, your group, industry, and your office decor.

What will they discover when they do a Google search on you?


4 thoughts on “Brand M.D.

  1. Your post is very interesting. I was just thinking about this week after reading about Hospitals and Social Media in Groundswell while I was sitting the waiting room of my doctor’s office for 45 minutes thinking to myself, if he had SM page I would totally comment about the wait! Medicine is one field that I would have never thought of as finding SM useful but it actually makes sense. Why shouldn’t you be able to review a doctor, they are providing a service just like a restuarant or airline? I will now by looking up my doctors online to see if they have any reviews on yelp.

    • Physicians like all other professionals in the digital age are now brands too. Their image can be enhanced or tarnished just as easily as any other service type business although it does seem odd at first to connect branding, social media and medicine. Look no farther than Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz.

  2. I spent last weekend in the emergency room with my dad . . . long story, but I found myself posting about the experience on FB. It generated a lot of piling on the system! As my parents get older, we’ve had a number of these prolonged episodes at the hospital. I dream of chipping the docs so we have some idea where they are and if they are going to visit. Long ago in an undergard operations management class I recall the medical customer service model described as “ritual insult,” basically, my time is more important than yours, so sit and wait with little to no information. Hospitals and doctors can do a lot to brand themselves, provide improved customer service, and help humanize the whole experience for patients and their supporters. I like the idea of doctors getting reviewed on Yelp. I would be happy if my doc would accept email. I’ve been with her for at least 20 years and she is frequently rated the top primary care physician in Anchorage, so I am not going anywhere, but I wish she would get with the 20th Century!

  3. Human beings are resistant to change and some industries even more so and medicine is at the top of the list. Some transparency about quality of care would be a great thing.

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