When patients can relate to their doctors on a personal level, they’re much more likely to stay loyal. That’s more important than ever, because patients today have a consumer-like attitude when it comes to choosing—and staying with—their physicians. If they don’t feel a connection with their doctor or perceive clear ways that the doctor cares about them, they’re more likely to shop around just like they would for any other service.
An article in the New York Times relayed how studies have shown for decades that primary care physicians are sued less often if they spend time educating patients about their care, use humor and laugh, or get their patients to talk about their lives and express their opinions. It’s the personal touch, and if you read any online reviews of physicians you’ll see that it carries through to recommendations and referrals as well.
Doctors today have a great advantage in that doctor-patient communication and relationship building is no longer confined to an office visit. Medical and healthcare professionals have a unique opportunity to add the personal touch to their practices with one powerful online tool—blogging.
However, many practices don’t blog because either they don’t think they have the time, don’t know what to say, or don’t think it makes a difference. We can sympathize with the first two reasons, but the last one couldn’t be further from the truth. Blogging has the powerful potential to grow your practice in various ways, such as:
- Businesses that blog receive 87% more leads than those who do not.
- Establish authority for doctors, nurses and staff by writing about useful, interesting topics that potential patients are searching for online. [In fact, 59% of U.S. adults have looked online for specific health information, such as what medical condition they or someone else might have, and a Pricewaterhouse Cooper survey showed that patients said the most trusted healthcare resources online are those posted by physicians and doctors (60%), followed by nurses (56%), and hospitals (55%).]
- Boost your Google ranking. Google rewards websites that consistently post fresh information, and blogging is an excellent way to do that.
- Humanize or personalize your practice by sharing news and stories patients can relate to.
There’s tremendous potential in that last bullet point. When patients are able to clearly visualize who the medical staff is and how they interact with patients, they begin to consider that the practice might be able help them, too. And that is the crucial step to the way many patients today choose a doctor, clinic, hospital, or healthcare practice.
Two quick examples of how blogging humanizes a practice:
As we discussed in How Successful Practices Use the Power of Patient Stories to Keep Their Clinic Schedules Full, the Mayo Clinic does a stellar job of blogging in a way that shows how truly caring and innovative the doctors and staff members are. Their blog, Sharing Mayo Clinic, shows how they found a tumor that was behind one patient’s medical mystery of breaking bones, or how their philosophy of whole-person care empowered one breast cancer patient to incorporate holistic care into her treatment regime. Written without bravado or back-thumping, the blog posts create a human connection which attracts patients in a way that no list of services can.
Another strong example is Seattle Children’s Hospital. On their website they have a blog called Seattle Mama Doc, which is written by one of their pediatricians, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson. Dr. Swanson blogs about health topics, parenting advice, and her own attempts to balance work and motherhood. In her “About This Blog” intro, Dr. Swanson says that her blog caters to one principle she has learned along the way—that parents just want to do what is right. She clearly carries that principle through her posts, whether they’re about head trauma, e-cigarette use among teens, or pediatric illnesses.
By conveying that she believes parents want what’s in their children’s best interest, she also acknowledges that it’s often difficult to know the right decision for matters such as when to let your child have a cellphone or when to let them stay home if they might or might not be ill. She also regularly notes that she struggles with the same child rearing issues that other parents do, which makes her relatable and keeps her clear from appearing to lecture. Simply put, her blog gives a personal touch to the broad field of children’s health and humanizes a large institution, Seattle Children’s Hospital.
How to Get Started with Blogging
You’re ready to humanize your practice by blogging, how do you go about it?
To maximize success, you should aim to post a blog at least once a week. That may seem overwhelming, but here are some ways to make it easier:
- Develop an editorial calendar of topics and deadlines and stick to it.
- Start with our list of two months of blog post titles to get you started.
- Recruit a team: doctors, nurses, office staff, or colleagues.
- Write in a conversational tone, as if you’re talking to a family member or friend.
- Avoid academic or medical jargon to keep your posts approachable.
- Write about what your patients are asking you.
- Ask the nurses to keep a list of questions patients ask them.
- Write about how you’ve helped patients. You don’t have to use names.
- Write about what you find interesting, or surprising, or inspiring about patient care.
Lastly, give it time. It takes time to build readership, but people and new patients will find you if you post consistently about useful and interesting topics, especially if they humanize your practice. And if you get stuck or find you just need to turn your blogging over to professionals, we’re here to help. Baker Labs specializes in helping medical practices grow with customized digital tools and strategies such as blogging. Contact us for a free marketing assessment of your medical practice, or for a free SEO audit of your website.