Why every doctor must have a strong digital presence

No offence meant to doctors in my social circle, ‘eyesight & vision aren’t the same’. You guys are great doctors, but bad at spotting the world change around you.

Before I present my arguments, let’s consider these facts.

1.        Almost 1/5th of all Google searches is about health and wellness

2.        Almost half of all urban visitors’ research about the doctor before they visit clinics

3.        9/10 doctors have a social media presence and hardly 15% have websites.

Though healthcare practitioners are amongst the most educated, forward-thinking group in India; they also are self-confessed ignorant about digital evolution and marketing. Agreed, regulation didn’t permit them for long, but then times have changed. We are in 2022.

Let’s look at the 10 key reasons why health care professionals must have a very strong digital presence.

1.        Preventive health is focus – Doctors aren’t just SOS help anymore, they’re part of the community and their opinion and outlook on healthcare and wellness is sought after. People expect doctors to keep the community updated on advancements in preventive health and wellness. A good doctor heals, not just cures!

2.        Your prospective customers are looking for you – Your professional website is not a lighthouse, but the landing lights. Invite the web visitors in. Urban India interacts digitally with multiple service providers every day and health is top priority. Consumers have a habit of window-shopping before choosing the best. Be seen when they’re looking for you.

3.        Google – It’s a predictive world – Remember, ‘If the mountain doesn’t go to Muhammed, then Muhammed must come to the mountain’. Google maps is the trusted source for directions. Allow Google to point out your premises to your community. No consumer ever forgets a good experience.

4.        Independent practitioner vs corporate hospitals – Except the size of the building and the price of the tools, there isn’t much to differentiate between knowledge. If they can brand and market themselves, why can’t you? After all, the consumer is walking in to meet a doctor, not a building.

5.        The 5 k.m. rule – The sphere of influence & catchment area of any independent doctor or polyclinic is within a 5 k.m. radius. Let the corporate hospitals take care of medical tourism and corporate marketing; Doctors just need to stay in touch with the communities and institutions in the 5 k.m. radius.

Let fellow docs discover you – The days ahead are of professional networking and consortiums. Multi-specialty doctors would come together with a common objective of serving a geographic community within shared facilities. Rationalization of cost and maximization of productivity need to be practiced even in small format polyclinics and healthcare facilities.

6.        Organize yourself – Traditional tools of manual records and telephonic reminders would soon be phased out with increased penetration of smart phones. Data would become the new currency and don’t throw yours away. Large aggregators and apps exploit this vulnerability. Once you establish your digital presence, you could upgrade gradually. Aversion to technology adoption only increases your manpower and management cost. Why say no to incremental business?

7.        Personal branding – ‘Jungle mein mor naacha kisne dekha’

Most doctors I know do charity camps and checkups. Instead of social media pages, how about posting pics of your good deeds on your own webpages and allow people to become followers? Followers wait for the next professional update and add more followers.

8.        Unique content is valued – Your expertise is invaluable; your experience worth sharing with patients, other doctors, healthcare industry colleagues and public at large. Put out those videos and FAQs out on your website. Build engagement and loyalty with prospective customers & visitors. Be seen and heard as a thought leader; Why talk to a small group in a CME?

Let’s admit, many a CMEs have degenerated into social networking between select doctors and Pharma companies. There are serious knowledge seekers who want to join your high table. Don’t they deserve your voice? The content you post would be the differentiator.

9.        Show your true self ~There’s a softer human side to every hard nosed professional. Not everyone reads medical journals, but everyone wants to know what you think. Your customers deserve to know who they’re meeting and what you stand for. You cannot let go your knowledge go waste; share your experiences.

10.      Pyramid exists in healthcare too – The term ‘jhola chhaap’ is an oft repeated snigger amongst doctors, but not spoken about openly. Recognize that they’re an important cog in the last mile delivery of healthcare at super low cost. Your empathetic web presence can attract them to form the layer below you, in your catchment radius. Draft them in! Allow them to absorb your wisdom.

–      Google doesn’t write medical journals and articles; it merely propagates using algorithm. Let search engines find your content on your own websites, not some other aggregator platform. That era is over. Be a proud doctor, not a UID in an aggregator platform.

–      Distribute downloadable charts, instructions, posters etc. Your website can be the warehouse for any proprietary information

–      A doctor in Dibrugarh can share experiences with doctors in Delhi, Chennai can talk to Chandigarh. That’s the power of Digital reach.

–      If you upgrade to a more data driven approach, you will ensure a much richer patient experience through better care and paperless records.

–      Allow yourself to be discovered. Be investment ready!

 Above all, you’re in the private space. Entrepreneurship is the key word today and your name on the digital landscape matters!

Ramesh Menon
Ramesh Menon
Writer is an Urbanisation and Land Expert (Delhi Master Plan & Land Pooling)

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