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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