Guest Column | October 26, 2020

Owning It: 4 Digital Steps Healthcare Professionals Should Consider In Developing A Mission-Driven Personal Brand

By Paige Velasquez Budde, CEO, Zilker Media

Light Steps

Most physicians don’t think of themselves as a brand. But in the long run, physicians can make a more significant impact and increase their reach by focusing on their personal, not institutional brand. Why?

The first thing potential patients do when they come across a name is to look it up online, especially in today’s world of telehealth-first medicine. According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, “Consumer adoption has skyrocketed from 11 percent of U.S. consumers using telehealth in 2019 to 46 percent of consumers now using telehealth to replace cancelled healthcare visits.”

In today’s digitally led healthcare world, having a strong personal brand accelerates patients’ speed of trust and differentiates healthcare pros from others. Additionally, a physician’s strong personal brand also creates a great reputable onramp that leads back to the healthcare professional’s institution or practice, with the healthcare professional serving as the initial entry point. 

As such, it is important that physicians consider building a mission-driven personal brand to succeed in today’s environment. While the task may seem daunting, today’s technology makes it attainable for any physician to build their brand. Here are four digital steps physicians should take when building a mission-driven personal brand.

Step One: Google Yourself

When a patient is in search of a healthcare provider for a particular need, the first thing they will do is research or Google for healthcare providers in their area. This is a critical point for healthcare pros. It’s important for physicians to see what information is immediately available in patient’s search queries. Does anything about you show up in the top five search results when the physician’s name is Googled? If not, it’s time to change that by owning the first impression.

Step Two: Own The First Impression

In this step, the physician needs to make it an intentional effort to own the first digital impression the patient sees. For example, if search results only trace back to their institution only, it does not provide the patient with any vital information that builds the patient to provider relationship. Just as consumers respond to positive reviews for a particular product they are looking to purchase, they similarly take this consumer mindset when looking for a healthcare provider. Physicians should work to take ownership of their first impression by optimizing their social media accounts including LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as patient reviews. For example, LinkedIn is a top rate website within Google's algorithms. It shows up on page one in Google, but it also has enough content to validate a physician’s authority and credentials.

To build digital integrity and transparency in this area, remember that the content the physician publishes does not all have to be proprietary or homegrown. Whether it's social media or a blog, physicians should consider this digital content as a type of personal newspaper and included various types of validated content and information around current events and medical trends.

Step Three: Build Authority Through Micro-Media Niches

In today’s landscape, micromedia reigns. Micromedia includes online-only publications, podcasts, email newsletters, and blogs that showcase deep expertise on a particular topic. These channels build authority quickly because they have loyal followings with high trust. During this step, physicians should look for specific publications focused on their area of expertise and utilize these third-party digital channels as another path to building credibility.

Step Four: Use Social Media To Start Meaningful Conversations 

When it comes to social media physicians need to remember it’s not a one-way street. As the physician shares unique and curated content and works to connect with broader audiences, it’s important to utilize social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with prospective patients, offer transparent information and take the relationship from digital to a physical patient to doctor visit.

In today’s environment where the first step for patients is to research the physician online, building a mission-driven personal brand is about creating an opportunity to broaden the way that healthcare professionals are able to teach and educate beyond the patients that you see day to day. When healthcare professionals develop a personal brand, it can provide the platform they need to make an even greater impact in their area of work.