Social media ROI for one practicing physician

This is a message that should resonate loud and clear with providers, institutions or members of the healthcare enterprise world  who are ruminating over the upsides — and potential downsides — of a wide reaching, multiple digital property: social media presence.

As Ted Eytan found out when he questioned the (anonymous) physicians on Sermo, many physicians are simply not interested in establishing an online presence.

“Risk” is the overwhelming variable they’re concerned with.  Yet, I imagine some of these very same physicians are the same ones with static Web type platforms who state that they are the “best,” the “premiere practice,” or utilize state of the art modalities.  There’s probably more risk involved in their promotional language then a venture along well trodden social media circles where we have established and have discussed on multiple occassions what many of the risks entail and how to avoid the landmines that exist .

Many physicians also state that they are not interested in healthcare related social media endeavors because they do not feel that there is a pot of gold at the end of the healthcare-social media rainbow.

If the past two week scales or even maintains, the level of new patients (7-10%) entering my office because of my social media presence and the information presented on my website, then I can emphatically state that the ROI of your time, resources and the presentation of your content in a transparent, meaningful, evidence-based manner will pay off quite well for your practice.  Perhaps even far more important than that (and a more difficult to measure ROI), the patients will be entering your office far better prepared, far better informed, and far more comfortable.   That means they will already have a reasonable understanding of what they might be suffering from, they will be far more comfortable with you because they have seen your videos and are comfortable with your demeanor and presentation.  And in the end, it makes your job in the office far more engaging, more productive and more efficient.

When your blog or website presents meaningful content without the commercialized hype so many marketers are pushing you to use, patients will,

  1. Find you (because of your digital property exposure)
  2. Like you (if they don’t like your videos or content, they’re not coming to your office)
  3. Probably trust you more than a doc they found in the phone book
  4. Interact in the office with you in a far more efficient manner since they already have digested the content you presented to them online — which you can re-visit right then and there to reinforce what you have just told them
  5. Dramatically improve your patient satisfaction scores (data available on request)

My presence online is to support the spread of meaningful, trustworthy, evidence-based, actionable information and guidance to patients and consumers from around the world.  I am personally not looking at my engagement from an ROI perspective. I continue to feel that physicians have a moral obligation to fill Google’s servers with quality content to drown out the commercialized nonsense that exists online today. But for those of you in search of bringing patients in your door, the message here is clear. It works, and it’s happening. With social media, the risk is manageable.

Howard Luks is an orthopedic surgeon who blogs at his self-titled site, Howard J. Luks, MD.

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  • Max

    I’ve said it before and I’ll reiterate it: Patients go by $. They will leave a buddy for a new plan. “My insurance won’t cover you any more”. “But I thought we were best friends and played golf weekly together?”

  • Paul Dorio

    Thanks for the comment, Max. Not sure of your point, of course, in the context of Howard’s post, but ok.

    Howard is right on – as usual. Great comments. Thanks for the post.

    Social media presence can help people understand who we are, what we do and where to find us. Simple as that. Of course the in-network issues come into play at some point. But that’s not the gist of the comments.

  • Richard Foullon

    I totally agree with Dr. Luks. The risks involved in the use of social media, real or those often imagined, can be managed. We have all had to learn to manage much more complicted issues than social media. The multi-dimensional ROI is no doubt positive. As opposed to most other issues in which the ROI is a clear cut financial criteria used to measure the worthiness of the endeavor, as mentioned by Dr. Luks, in adopting social media the physicians’ positive ROI is generated in numerous ways.

  • Chris Boardman

    Great blog! Anyone who promotes “outside the box” critical thinking (ie. the value of social media in medicine) rather than being limited by preconceived notions offers great value not only to themselves but those they serve. I agree with Dr. Foullon- Social media is here to stay and can easily be managed within the context of practical medicine.

  • Juliet Austin

    Thanks for this great post. I work work therapists and the same mistaken notions exist in that field. An added problem is that most therapists (and I would guess physicians) will never commit the time or effort it takes to develop an effective social media strategy. Because so few are making the effort, an assumption is made that it can’t be done.

  • Howard Luks

    Thanks for your kind comments…. Will try to continue to provide insights and more for those considering a venture into the social space.
    Thanks for your comments.

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