Managing an Online Presence for Your Medical Practice

Female Physician on ComputerAt we talk a lot about physicians’ use of social media and how to manage their online presence. While we tend to be more conservative about suggesting that physicians use social media –we feel that it opens up a lot of potential professional liability in ways that haven’t necessarily been fully identified or seen yet –a recent article on suggested “7 missed opportunities of not creating an online presence.”

The article basically suggests that by not having an online presence, a physician is hurting his or her medical practice and reputation. An online presence is seen as “humanizing” a medical practice and an increasingly important way in which physicians attract new patients.

The article lists seven specific reasons a physician should consider putting their practice online. Let’s review and comment on them:

1. Without a personal online presence, a physician’s practice will most likely not be near the top of a Goggle search for local doctors in his or her area. Or, if it is, patients may be likely to pass over it in favor of physicians who do have websites.

2. Having zero online presence might be as bad as having a poor online presence. Quite simply, in this day and age, patients might find it “weird” for a physician to not have a website, etc.

3. It is an easy opportunity to educate. (This is also one area in which we worry about professional liability and suggest that physicians proceed cautiously with online eduction and back-and-forth with patients.)

4. It gives patients an opportunity to give you good reviews and let them know that you want and care about their feedback. (The article doesn’t mention what to do about negative reviews, and again we here at worry about professional liability issues, so proceed cautiously.)

5. Essentially, your “brand” is being controlled by others and not by you. Because the internet is the most democratic of places, others can say what they will about a physician and/or his or her practice and it will be there to represent him or her.

6. An online presence allows a physician to improve his or her practice’s efficiency. For example, new patient forms can be placed online.

7. Finally, a physician might lose recommendations without an online presence.

Balancing an online presence with concern for professional liability is a delicate process. If you have any questions about liability and managing social media, feel free to contact our agents today.

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