The True Power of Social Media in Medical Marketing

“Pro-sumers” turn to the Web for almost every purchasing decision in their lives, and they no longer see healthcare as being any different.  Increasingly, the burden of healthcare costs is shifting from employers to individuals.  And because they are paying more out of their own pockets, they are also spending more time scrutinizing their healthcare decisions. Yes, they want a qualified doctor. But you know what?  More and more, physicians, especially younger ones, are board-certified and fellowship trained.  That’s become an equalizer.  So now, the consumer is thinking if you and the five other doctors in my community have the same training, what is it about you?  Is it your volume?  Your service?  The way you care for your patients?  How you call a patient back? Yes, patients today still turn to friends, family, neighbors and other physicians for referrals.  But in today’s time-pressed, technology-driven world, the Web has become a second and in some cases, I would argue first “community” to turn to for this type of qualitative information. A patient might Google a search for say, “cardiology stress test Central Florida” and pull up a practice Web site.  Based on the way they make their other purchasing decisions, they then increasingly expect to see videos, blogs, testimonials, and information not just on the physicians’ training but what makes them stand out and how other patients feel about the care they have received. They welcome and value the feedback of social communities and expect the site to look modern, informative and easy to navigate.  They start equating how some of these communication tools look with how worldly the practice is and how attentive to the patient its people are. Bottom line, your Web site and social media presence is now a key part of your “word of mouth” referrals.  Is it up for the job?