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Controlling Your Online Presence


The Internet has become ubiquitous. Almost every industry is tied to the Internet in some way or another; consumers, customers and even patients look to the Internet to decide whether or not you are the right fit for them.

The Internet has become ubiquitous. For better or worse, almost every industry is tied to the Internet in some way or another; at the very minimum, consumers look to the Internet as a resource for phone numbers and addresses. But, most of the time, consumers, customers and even patients look to the Internet to decide whether or not you are the right fit for them.

Years ago, doctors may have curiously looked themselves up online to see what was listed, and some sneakily looked up colleagues to see what they were up to. But now physicians can and should control what others see about them. There are a few ways to manage your online presence effectively, which can help in making sure that patients see what you want them to see when they look you up online.

Create a Professional Profile Page

It is easy to create a professional page on any of the popular social media sites, such as LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook or even Instagram. The advantage of creating a simple profile page lies in controlling what people find when they search your name on the Internet. You can post a photo or yourself, a photo of your office or a medical/health related image of your choice. You can include your preferred contact information and you can even share basic information about your practice or medical specialty if you want.

There are several advantages to using these simple profiles. This is the easiest and fastest way to control your online presence. Generally, you only need to have one profile page using only one social media outlet. This profile page will most likely be the top link or among the top links that pop up with an Internet search of your name. You control the content and you can open or close your profile page to comments by others.

Update Your Profile On Your Hospital Website

You can usually communicate with the staff that manage the hospital or health care system website where you work to add any details that you would like to include. While this seems like it should be easy, the hospital contract with the web manager might comprise of updates of the site at specified intervals or for specific reasons (a doctor leaving or joining the system for example.) But, if you can make contact with your health system web manager, it is worth the effort to get your profile to appear as you would like it to.

Create a Practice Website

A more involved way to more heavily manage your online presence involves building a web page. While building a simple website does not require expert computer skills, it does require at least a few hours of dedication. Here are some instructions on how to build a simple website.

You can completely control the content of your website, making your online presence exactly as you would like it to appear. This can serve to make it clear to potential patients and referring doctors what your specialty is, where you are located and how to contact you. You can also include some basic information that you would like to share with patients, such as how to prep for an office visit or procedure.

Blog/ Write an Article About Your Specialty

Another way to make your online presence more clearly associated with your skills is by writing an article or a blog post that provides useful information for patients or referring doctors. An article authored by you on your topic of interest and expertise can help link your online presence with the subject that you want to be linked with. Is there procedure that you want to attract referrals for? Is there a niche medical condition that you wish to see more of? Write an informative article or blog and then when readers search for the topic, they will reach your information and know that you are a reliable resource on the subject. You can consider submitting an article to such as this one about Alzheimer’s disease.

Maintaining an online presence is the modern day equivalent of ‘word of mouth’ for many physicians. It doesn't take an inordinate amount of time to associate your name with the professional specialty or niche that you want people to think of when they think of you. While there are some effective ways to manage your online presence, there are, of course, some limitations, as you cannot control what other people write, which unfortunately, can be unfair or even cruel.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
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