Transparency defines social media success for doctors

Want to understand social media? Physicians wanting to learn about social media must learn transparency. We must learn transparency on a personal level and also learn how to operate our medical practices with the same transparency as any other small business.

Our patients (and our prospective patients) now define “great” doctors as those who are willing to display transparency, that is, doctors must be willing to show a human side.

For us to distinguish ourselves from each other, we must respond to a digital society who now demands transparency, engagement and a review system of its doctors.

People “who” are doctors

The era of scarcity “marketing” is over thanks to the Internet. Access to information (right or wrong) has empowered our patients and is forcing medicine to become a consumer driven market.

Patients are searching for people who are doctors. Individuals who are “people” first and “doctors” second. It’s not really a new concept, we used to call it “bedside manner.”

Those physicians willing to share about themselves as people, their hobbies, their views and philosophy of practice, and do so publicly via their own websites and blogs, are going to draw the most and strongest attention of the public.

It is not what you are, but who you are

Patients want to relate to their doctor.

Patients cannot relate to our academic achievements, fancy training programs and sophisticated research. They can’t because they didn’t go to med school.

It’s globally accepted that we are smart because, well, we did go to med school.

Why, then, do we insist on adorning our office walls with diplomas, awards and placards of our achievements that have no meaning to our patients?

Social media experiment

The goal of this experiment is to start a conversation (real or digital) with a patient.

Whether on your walls or in the “about” page of your website, take time to talk about, show images (pictures) of “who” you are as a person. Put up pictures of yourself/kids/artwork in your office or mention some hobbies and interests on your website.

You’ll be surprised how much more of an effect this will have in creating relationships with your patients. Chances are your patients will share something in common with you, and that’s what they want.

Do not be afraid to engage

A static website has no marketing value for your practice. Modern websites must be a blog.

Blogs allow readers to ask a question or leave a comment. You can’t do that on an old-fashioned static website.

Blogs are the purest form of social media because after a reader leaves a comment, you can (and must) respond!

These conversations give you the opportunity to show who you are as a person and a glimpse of your “bedside manner.”

More importantly, this display will also reveal a person who is willing to engage their patients and, more importantly, a person who cares.

Randall Wong is a retina specialist and co-founder of Medical Marketing Enterprises.

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  • Erick Kinuthia

    Resourceful post. Social media has come with more opportunities for doctors and physicians to reach out to patients seeking for healthcare information and even specific medical care. Doctors should maximize on social media if they want to attract patients who are already online.

    Erick Kinuthia
    Team Mdwebpro

    • rvwong


      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.  I could not agree more, but social media is not just another purchased advertising campaign….as so many think.  Your company (and ours) must continue to find a way to change the age old tradition of a “monologue” from doctor to patient.

      Thanks again.


  • Bonnie Simpson Mason

    As a physician entering the world of social media, I’ve continually asked various social media “experts” about the voice, personal vs. professional, that I should be using in my blogs. You’ve summed it up quite nicely, BOTH! I am sure with more blog entries, I achieve the level of transparency that you implore us to communicate to readers. Thanks for the tips.

    Bonnie Mason
    OPM Education, Inc.

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.


      As a physician, you can’t go wrong using either business or personal language, as long as you are willing to “engage” or participate.  My suggestions;

      1.  Be consistent with your additions.  Noone likes a stale or dead blog
      2.  Pretend you are writing to a single person, imagine that person in front of you and (I would suggest) speak/write in the first person.
      3.  Your blog is not a peer-reviewed journal….your colleagues aren’t watching and if they are…they will be impressed.
      4.  You are right, with time (ie more posts) you’ll develop a personality through the way your write and answer comments/questions.
      5.  Don’t give up.  This is a valuable tool.

      Thanks for your kind comments!


  • Maura69

    This was very interesting and quite viable. Although I would definitely want to see where their diplomas were from, and education etc., I do want my doctor amiable to a conversation relative to who, what, where and why. I also tend to want a discussion instead of a determination as I have found that when an illness/injury is discussed there is more reliable information forthcoming with a better/clearer diagnosis and a positive result. The bedside manner is a lost art and needs to be reclaimed.

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.

       Dear Maura69,

      Thanks so much for the comment and feedback.  True conversations in my profession are difficult to come by.  I have my own suspicions as to the reason, but for now it is incumbent on the patients to make the first step.

      Keep your fingers crossed.  Thanks again!


  • Queen Yanni

    It is about build a relationship of TRUST, a partnership of caring and healing…

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.

      Dear Queen Yanni,

      I agree.  With transparency, being yourself, comes trust.   Thanks for your comments.


  • chrisgomedia

    Randall, I really like what you had to say about doctors needing to be ready to engage.  I think that in order to gain any benefit from social media or online involvement, it has to be a two way channel with conversation – not a one-sided blasting tool.  Great article.

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.

      Dear Chrisgomedia,

      Absolutely!  Dialogue vs. monologue!  Unfortunately, dialogue is not native to the way we are trained.  This is just the beginning of great change…fingers crossed!


  • SocialDentalNetwork

    Great points on transparency!

    Patients are sooo willing to connect where the conversation is already taking place – online, within these social media environments. Marketing used to be a dirty word to doctors, something reserved for the unsuccessful or those not worried about their integrity.

    Times have changed and you’re right, it’s never going to be the way it was.

    All great comments too.

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.

      Dear SocialDentalNetwork,

      Thanks for your comments.  If true conversations are indeed occurring…it’s only too natural for patients to notice.  If there is not conversation, even with great content, the situation is less appealing.


  • Al Lautenslager

    Love the fact that you have mentioned how to humanize the doctor. I love transparency; it works; it builds relationships and patient value. Love to help medical professionals plan and actual execute their social media. Just finished with a neurosurgeon and looking for more to work for.