Our search for healthcare and medical services is a part of life, and easier than ever thanks to the Internet. But for the medicine industry, sites like ZocDoc, Yelp and Web MD have created new challenges for professionals to stand out in their field. Patients are consumers and decision makers in the business of medicine, and reports have shown that 53% of decision-makers have eliminated a vendor from consideration based on information they did or did not find about an employee online. In this context, a medical professional that is the target of a search is subject to the decisions of those who are filtering searches for healthcare and reading reviews about doctors and facilities. This is why personal branding can make all the difference in standing out, attracting new patients and maintaining a steady flow of business. Telling the world who you are and what you’re all about is a viable way to become a “yes” decision and avoid being eliminated from the search pool, both on and offline. If you’re a medical professional making a livelihood out of your practice, here are a few benefits you’ll gain from building a personal brand.
Cut through the competition
Geographic location and specialty can drastically impact the level of competition among medical professionals. But over the past decade, social media, review sites, and healthcare apps have changed the playing field. There are more platforms where professionals are required to be active, but this also means there are more opportunities to make your personal brand visible to others. Pew once reported that 66% of internet users look online for information about a specific disease or medical problem, and 56% of internet users look online for information about a certain medical treatment or procedure. Professionals can leverage their personal brand through their specialties and approach, answering many of the questions that Internet users are searching for. Alternately, professionals can make themselves visible through social media, reaching patients even while they aren’t actively searching. When the Internet took notice of Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, aka “Doctor Mike,” he amassed over 2 million Instagram followers who were initially excited by his good looks and dog photos. But by leveraging his popularity, Doctor Mike told NBC about how he shares insights into his practice with his audience and “to educate people, to get people excited about medicine, and I look forward to continually proving people wrong.” He advocates social media as one of the easiest way for medical professionals to reach more people and stand out.
Demonstrate leadership to gain trust
The work you do is important, and your brand will help you to highlight some of your best accomplishments and philosophies. In our own lives, on television, and in news stories we hear, the best kind of medical professional is an inherent leader. It takes confidence to be able to tell the world about yourself, sharing aspects of your personality and what’s important to you. Make your qualities and qualifiers visible: whether it’s your charity work, your personal hobbies, your awards, your research projects, or standout bedside manner. Consumers need to be able to trust you with their lives, and familiarity is the best way to gain the trust you need. As Neilsen once reported, 92% of consumers trust word of mouth, even from people they don’t know, over brands. You can put your personal brand into action by letting others attest to your reputation as a leader.
Let the opportunities reach you
As your personal brand builds your reputation, word of mouth and familiarity can open up new opportunities for referrals. But it isn’t only patients and decision-makers who can help to make this happen. Colleagues and professionals in parallel fields may also be more likely to recommend you to their own patients when they trust you. Their recommendations can reflect their own credibility and values that they may share with you and your brand. With an established personal brand, you can fit within a standard of quality that patients and other professionals will be proud to endorse.
Network with like-minded professionals
It’s much easier to talk about yourself to others and find interesting people to connect with when you have a strong sense of how to talk about yourself. The personal brand of a medical professional will vary between practices, locations and patient demographics. However, your personal brand may help you to easily identify like-minded professionals who share the same values as you and have interesting information to exchange. If you can’t attend conferences regularly, there are social networking apps made specifically for medical professionals such as DailyRounds and Sermo, where doctors can connect with one another and share insights on a global scale.
No matter what personal brand you are building, success is inevitable if you are staying true to yourself and sharing your unique skills with the world.