Why Are Doctors Slow In Catching The Social Media Wave?

by Patrick on November 24, 2009

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Photo courtesy Flickr user southerntabitha

As some of you know, I’ve been trying to get over an illness last week. For the most part I’m feeling better now but while I was really sick I considered giving the doctor a call.

I remember when I first moved down here, trying to find a doctor was a pain. Besides trying to find someone that is “in your network,” there really isn’t any simple way to learn more about a possible primary care provider. I remember I settled on a doctor who was nearby and had a website for the entire practice group. It sounds kind of silly, but if you think about it he sold me by making it easy for me to get all the information I wanted on him, his practice, and the office. The group’s website had everything from hours to online background forms I could fill out prior to my first visit.

Sure there are tons of websites you can also consult that rate doctors, and my insurance provider also had some basic information to help me locate nearby doctors, but I appreciated that this physician realized the potential he had to not only establish an online presence for his office, but also help control his online reputation. His site came right up when I ran a Google search for his name.

Medical doctors are embracing new technological gadgets, but on the most part, most haven’t ventured onto the web. I understand there’s a lot of issues they can face if they engage in social media, but I’m talking about something a little bit more basic: just having an online home for your office’s information and policies.

There isn’t anything that we do today that doesn’t spark an online search. Want to find a new recipe? Go online. Want to get an address of the local Old Navy? Go online. Looking for a new doctor? Go online. Offices that are looking for patients need to understand that The Internet is almost always the first step anyone takes when it comes to research.

I can think of three things Physicians should do to establish an online presence:

  1. Make sure your practice has a website where patients can go to get information on your doctors and office policies. Think about how much time could be saved if office hours could be found online or if new patient forms could be filled out completely at home before arriving to an appointment.
  2. Be aware of what’s being said about you online. Find out which sites people do use for researching doctors and make sure the information is accurate and up to date. Often insurers and state medical boards post complete directories that people can search. Make sure everything is in order.
  3. Claim your name on social networking sites. Now engaging in social media is a topic that’s been debated, and some encourage physicians to become more vocal. I’m not saying you have to go out and start a blog, but Physicians should know that social networking profiles like LinkedIn and Facebook are often the top results when someone Googles your name.

I’m curious if I’m the only one that thinks that doctors are slow to get their businesses online- is your Physician online?

  • Brett

    I think the short answer is this: they do not have time. Health care professionals are overworked, so they don’t necessarily have the time to devote to social media or even to web sites.

    In terms of doctors and their relationship to the Internet, the bare minimum probably should be some sort of website that has the basics (i.e. information about their practice, address, phone number, e-mail address, business hours, and the like). I don’t think they should be obligated to do much more than that.

    Sure, searching the Internet is what a lot of people do for a lot of things, but if you need to find a doctor, there are other ways, potentially more reliable than doing Google searches. That’s right, I’m talking about the Yellow pages (which I guess you can search that online too if you can’t be bothered to thumb through the physical phone book).

    • http://www.dmbosstone.com Patrick

      You make a good reason, probably all the more reason to have an office manager or front end employee take care of the web business. You also see that I’m not asking for them to start blogging or getting on Twitter- simply having a website with information is something so basic I can’t believe more of them haven’t done it yet.

      Sure you can go through the phone book but when there’s hundreds of names on a list how is a physician going to stand out? By making sure he’s on the top of the list when somebody goes online- and you know more people go online that use the phone book.

      Thanks for reading Brett!

  • http://thepqnation.com/showandtell Jaime

    I just Googled mine, and the office doesn’t have their own website. That makes me sad.

    He DOES, however, have a Linked In profile and is mentioned in all those physician search sites.
    .-= Jaime´s last blog ..Literal Definitions: Nerdom =-.

    • http://www.dmbosstone.com Patrick

      Good that he’s a social networker- but wouldn’t a website tell you when he’s actually in the office be helpful as well?

      • http://thepqnation.com/showandtell Jaime

        It TOTALLY would!
        .-= Jaime´s last blog ..Literal Definitions: Nerdom =-.

        • http://www.dmbosstone.com Patrick

          A G-chat I just sent in regards to this post: it’s funny how nail salons will jump on technology faster than some of the smartest industries in the world

  • http://liebchen11.wordpress.com Liebchen

    I’ve had to google my doctors multiple times…mostly because I forget the address or phone number. (Yes, I’ve finally written it down.) But I’ve been generally pleased by the information they’ve offered on the sites. If only all of them offered the paperwork, too.
    .-= Liebchen´s last blog ..Take me home tonight =-.

    • http://www.dmbosstone.com Patrick

      Yes Liebchen, whether it’s something basic like patient forms or more advanced like online medical records- I’m surprised physicians haven’t done more. I know they are scared of a lot of privacy issues but think about how much is already online in other areas of our life.

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