In today’s healthcare environment, doctors are quickly shuffling from one exam room to the next, inputting data, and finding very little time left over to truly communicate with their patients. Patients, in turn, feel neglected and often leave with the impression that many of their questions are still unanswered or their concerns still unaddressed. Not surprisingly, research has shown that, among the most frequent patient complaints, is the feeling that their doctor is simply not listening to them.
While this may not be the case, this feeling of inadequate doctor-patient communication can result in a number of problems including dissatisfied patients who do not return and negative feedback that may impact the physician’s ability to obtain future patients as well. On top of the overwhelming number of concerns already facing today’s medical practitioners, physicians must now also find a way to make patients feel informed and confident in their abilities without letting other responsibilities fall behind. Though it may seem an insurmountable task, today’s technology-driven world has provided us with seemingly endless ways to connect, and the most effective of these for medical practices will prove to be the blog.
Consider for a moment the power of Google in today’s society, and you’ll quickly understand why a blog can be so effective. No doubt, as a medical professional, you’ve encountered many patients who have already Googled their symptoms and arrived at a self-diagnosis before ever entering your office. Perhaps you’ve even noticed reviews of yourself or your practice being posted on the web. A blog offers you the power to harness these tools and use them to your advantage. Here’s how:
Illustrate Your Expertise
When a patient is researching a particular condition or looking for a doctor via the web, finding the blog of a physician can be hugely beneficial. Here, they can not only find answers they are looking for, but they can also learn more about you and your qualifications without turning to a third-party site. You can ensure that the information they receive is accurate, and position yourself as an authority on what ails them. As they read a blog with your byline which addresses their specific concerns, the effect will be as though they had a conversation with you in the exam room. Additionally, because you have already positioned yourself as someone whom they can trust, they are more likely to walk into your office with a positive impression already in place.
Combat “Dr. Google”
When the only information that a concerned patient has regarding their symptoms comes from a Google search, you can be sure that they will enter their appointment with a wealth of unanswered questions and a desire to review all of the possibilities. However, you can alleviate some of this by addressing common patient concerns through a blog. Not only will these articles likely show up in search results for inquisitive patients in your area, they will also provide a local, authoritative source on which they can rely for answers. Rather than simply checking their symptoms on WebMD, they can find relevant information regarding their ailment from a physician in their own area. Again, by making your expertise available to them in their time of need, you increase the likelihood of this patient choosing you over other local physicians.
Portray a Positive Image
Negative online reviews are becoming a very real concern and can quickly damage a doctor’s reputation. Websites such as Healthgrades and Vitals have given patients a voice on a very large platform. While this can be a positive avenue for patients to gather information and share their experiences, it also provides an outlet where one disgruntled patient can have a very real impact on others. After all, research has shown that negative experiences are 52 percent more likely to be shared on review sites. Your blog, along with many other areas of your website, provides you with the opportunity to share your expertise, your qualifications, and manage your reputation. Write about your education, your credentials, and continue to assert your authority in your area of medicine through quality content. If potential patients also have this wealth of information available to them, they will likely give less credence to any negative reviews they encounter.
A 2002 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reveals that, above all else, patients seek doctors who are confident, empathetic, and personable. They seek someone who they perceive as knowledgeable, who seems to genuinely care about them, and who takes the time to explain things in a way they can understand. Of course, in today’s hurried healthcare environment, physicians have less time to spend with each individual patient, making these critical traits difficult to convey. A well-written and authoritative blog may just hold the key to addressing these concerns.
If you would like to learn more about how inbound marketing factors such as blogging can positively impact your practice, contact BlinkJar Media. As inbound marketing professionals who specialize in the medical sector, we understand the unique marketing challenges that face physicians today and how to best address them.