We’ve all become accustomed to getting the information we want quickly and easily; the Internet has spoiled us. Whether we’re looking up a recipe for baked chicken or trying to self-diagnose a funny looking rash, we ask the Internet to show us the best results in as little time as possible. And since we’re scrambling for information, many of us assume that the top result is exactly what we need. This is perfectly fine for the millions of moms and dads worried about their coughing child. Or the college student looking to save money and avoid another doctor’s office bill. But when these self-diagnosed patients come into your clinic, your job might have just become a little harder.
It seems silly that adults would start trusting search engines over the expert opinion of a physician. But it happens and doctors must learn how to overcome their frustrations and assist these patients as best as they can. But what can you do when a patient comes in with a printout in hand stating their ailment, treatment, and side-effects? Actually, battling Dr. Google happens before your patients ever step foot in your office. It starts online. Yes, you will be fighting fire with fire. Instead of competing with Dr. Google, you will be building an online presence to assist and steer patients in your directions. Check out the tips below to help you get started.
Create An Online Presence
For doctors that don’t have an online presence, meaning they haven’t taken the time to blog, create an informative website, or even engage in social media, complaining about Dr. Google’s prominence isn’t an option for you. It’s a fact that people today are much more willing to go online than to visit a store or office, pick up a phone, or even send an email. Your patients are online. Running a practice without an online presence is just silly.
Your first priority should be to build an online presence. A brand with plenty of information to offer, patient testimonials to support the practice, and a lively blog and social media discussion seems much more trustworthy than a brand that only lists its phone number. Talk to a web designer about creating a website that is clean, simple, and organized for all the information you will eventually upload. You want colors that are soothing, a navigation menu that is easy to follow, and graphics or pictures that clearly describe or support any text.
After you have a website in the works, start using SEO strategies to promote your name, your brand, and your expertise. Implement appropriate keywords, start exchanging links with relevant and popular websites, correct all code-based errors, and start a blog (more on this one to come!). As you promote your website through various channels, you increase the likelihood of patients coming to your website for information, as opposed to a generic, possibly untrustworthy source on Google. You can stop many patients from bringing in miscellaneous handouts if they just take a look at your website first.
Finally, don’t forget about social media to inspire confidence in your practice. Engage with your followers, have a weekly “Ask the Doctor” series, and post interesting, informative content to keep people involved.
Direct Patients To Your Blog
In addition to your online presence, a blog is a great way to attract attention to your skills, knowledge, and expertise. Posting to a blog regularly, say once or twice a week, on topics that are relevant to your practice, areas of expertise, and interesting or concerning to your patients will give you an authoritative reputation. Your patients will look forward to your weekly posts on the latest news in dermatology or pediatrics. Pose questions and ask for feedback to encourage your readers to join the discussion. You can use your blog as a way to give them comfort and assurance when they can’t come in for an appointment.
Furthermore, you can use your blog as supplemental reading for patients who can benefit from further information. If you’ve recently written a blog post on preventing skin rashes from spreading, and you have a patient with a skin rash in danger of doing such a thing, tell them about your blog post which they might find interesting and useful. Be sure not to push your blog too much, otherwise it might sound like a sales pitch. However, telling the right patients about your blog will help them out, help you further your online presence, and give you a leg up on Dr. Google.
The Internet has helped make all sorts of information widely available and quickly accessible. Unfortunately for doctors, this means our patients are turning to search engines to diagnose themselves before they ever come into the office. This can lead to distrust between physicians and patients, frustration, and misinformation. Combat Dr. Google by building your own online presence and writing a relevant blog to go with it. Your patients will be much more likely to find your information over someone else’s, bestowing the trust back in your practice. You can’t blame people for wanting answers quickly, especially when it comes to their health. Give them the assistance they’re looking for by joining the online community of healthcare information.