The scope of the healthcare industry has moved beyond the confines of face to face interaction and print: it has become more crucial than ever for doctors and other health practitioners to have an online presence. The Pew Research Institute Project offers some useful statistics that support this assertion:
47% of internet users look online for information about doctors or other health professionals
37% of adults seeking information about doctors consulted rankings or review online of doctors and other providers
If potential patients are using the Internet as a medium to find and learn about health practitioners in their area, then the best source of information stands as local health practitioners themselves. Practice websites offer a platform of practical information such as location, hours of operation, contact information, and basic info about the credentials of the health practitioner. Social media platforms take an online presence one step further by enabling a practitioner to communicate with current and prospective patients.
Take Facebook, for example. Facebook is the number one social networking platform and is used by 57% of all American adults. Not only is it an ideal platform to use to spread information, it also enables practitioners to interact with other users in order to foster a positive reputation and heighten branding awareness. One of the greatest advantages in acquiring attention through Facebook is that users interacting with a given practice will be within reasonable proximity, as will most of their own connections. Their connections, in turn, will see interaction with said practice and thus will be more likely to find, take interest in, and interact with it. The nature of social networking fosters growth and expansion for businesses in regard to awareness and client base.
An active online presence not only contributes to the potential for growth, but also empowers a practitioner in the realm of reputation management. What is said and shared by others on the Internet, whether it is positive or negative, cannot be controlled or removed. Commanding one’s own presence and responding to what is said about one’s practice is the most effective way of mediating reputation.
The best way to secure the attention and business of prospective patients is to cater to the manner in which these individuals find and utilize information. Since the Internet has become a primary medium of practitioner searching, practitioners who do not break into the digital world will be left behind.