“Two years ago, a physician or practice with a Facebook account was unusual. Now if you’re a doctor without one, you’re considered archaic,” says Mehul Sheth, D.O., who practiced as a pediatrician in Milwaukee before becoming a medical consultant in Chicago.
Physicians can use social media to receive alerts about new treatments or connect with patients. That connection is especially important when patients are faced with long wait times and short visits, says Mehul Sheth, D.O.
Today’s physicians need to be more savvy about non-medical technologies than ever before. More and more, EHRs, social media and mobile computing are just a few of the trends that physicians and practices can’t afford to ignore.
And if you’re preparing for a job search, you can use your grasp of technology as a selling point.
The lesson: Building your own website
makes you the go-to resource and can attract
Jennifer Thomas, M.D., a pediatrician practicing at Lakeshore Medical in Franklin, Wisc., has shown how a website can be more than just a place to list your address and office hours.
“When I got my first job out of residency in 1998, I was the first new hire in at least a decade, and they had a number of layers patients had to go through to reach a health professional—nurse triage, phone triage, etc. I wasn’t very busy, so I started to hand out my email address, which not many people had at that time,” she says.
By the year 2000, she says, pretty much everyone had an email, and she found herself answering the same questions over and over.
So she set up her own website, drjen4kids.com, and put up notices on her business card and in her exam room.
“One day, the CEO came in and asked, ‘You have a website?’ and I said ‘Yes,’ waiting to be chastised and beg forgiveness. Instead, I got an email saying ‘Good work,’” she says.
In fact, her website was one reason her current employer recruited her.
It’s no secret that websites are often the first place people search for information on a practice. Think of the opportunity lost if a patient searches for a particular physician and finds nothing at all—or several listings, but no real information.
The best case scenario?
“The [searcher] finds an engaging, user-friendly website, one that tells the story of the people of the practice,” says Tom Ainsley, CEO of Baltimore Media Group in Maryland. He emphasizes the importance of your site’s “About us” link: “It gives the reader your credentials, personality, provides a sense of ‘Would I be comfortable in their care?’” he says. Consider videos allowing visitors to view the office and even “meet” individual physicians.
“Purchase [YourName].com (you can do it for about $10 on GoDaddy.com) and set yourself up as an expert. You can publish information and post your comments about a new treatment, or something you saw at a conference,” says Ainsley. Such commenting may help enhance your value to a practice.
Questions that come into your site can be your bellwether on local patients’ concerns, especially if you’ve moved to a new community.