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How medical professionals can establish an online presence

Most medical professionals today understand that an online presence can help the business of their practice, but they’re reluctant to branch out into the digital world because they don’t want to put up with the headache and potentially unsolicited contact from patients. But there’s too much opportunity in the digital realm to ignore it. By following a few best practices, doctors can maintain an active profile online and on various social media platforms that will help increase both reputation and exposure. Window shopping for doctors has increased in recent years therefore physicians need to keep up with this new trend.

Website

Yes, you need a website. This is how the world will see you, and the site will become your defining online presence. It must include all your general information — where you received your medical degree, how long you have been practicing and awards or distinctions earned.

Also consider testimonials, an FAQ page, and an informative page with general health tips. This type of information will help those looking for a new doctor get to know you a little bit before they call for an appointment.

Your website is the place where you have complete control of the content and how you are represented. Therefore you can direct your patients to your website for quality information rather than what is auto-populated by bots on sites like HealthGrades.

Remember: Aesthetics matter. Hire a Web designer to create your site and use good images. Shutterstock is a good resource to find appropriate images for a medical practice website. Keep it classy and professional without being dull. The idea is to humanize the practice in an inviting way.

Social Media

While many medical practitioners avoid social media for fear of unsolicited contact by patients, a recent survey of doctors who use social media found that fewer than one in five have ever received a friend request from a patient. So if that is the concern, you may be missing out on an easy — and free — way to promote your practice.

Check out Dr. Robert Klapper on Twitter; he’s one doctor doing social media well. He has increased his profile as an orthopedic for athletes by adding his insight about how long players who suffer injures may take to return to action.

In addition to increasing your reputation, you can also use your social channels to educate the public. For example, why is a flu shot a good idea this winter or how washing your hands helps prevent sickness? Facebook and Twitter are great megaphones to amplify your message — you just have to use them persistently to achieve good results. Engage your followers on a daily basis.

Medical Social Networks

There is also a litany of social networks specific to doctors that can enhance your personal and professional life. Doctors Hangout is one of the largest, and MomMD is for a great place for women in the field to interact. Orthomind caters to those in the orthopedic sector and theBolus.org, an online magazine for med students.

Other Medical Sites

There are also specialized networks where doctors can receive referrals. WebMDHealth Grades or Rate MDs provide this opportunity just to name a few. There are also regional sites, like NYU Langone Medical Center in New York and Calgary Area Docs in Canada.

While practitioners cannot necessarily edit or affect their rankings on some of these platforms, they should monitor their profiles on such sites to make sure they are accurate and resolve any issues in their ratings.

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