How is the doctor-patient relationship changing in the digital age?
The trend towards online modes of communication, through smartphones and other devices, has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of people, especially younger generations, have come to expect a more interactive and engaging experience relating to businesses and organizations, and healthcare is no exception.
The way people seek and access healthcare is changing
Those seeking medical or healthcare information are now increasingly turning to search engines or social media first. As many as 80% of internet users seek health information online. It is estimated that 5% of all Google searches are health-related.
As virtual meetings are now commonplace for both personal and social purposes, both healthcare providers and patients are becoming more comfortable with teleconsultations.
How are these changes affecting relationships between healthcare seekers and providers?
The use of the internet to seek medical information can have both positive and negative aspects. Access to reliable, medically-verified information can often benefit patients’ understanding, enabling better informed discussions and treatment decisions. Patients may use social media to fulfil needs for information or support that cannot be met by their healthcare provider. Many people benefit from online support groups for those with similar medical conditions. However, there is a wide variety in the quality of medical information available online. Unregulated information and opinions online can lead to mistrust of medical professionals and undermine doctor-patient relationships.
Some healthcare professionals are wary that increased use of digital communication may lead to a loss of the personal touch. However technology can enhance patient-provider relationships when used in the right way.
Internet searches and virtual consultations have expanded the options available to those seeking healthcare. One recent study found that a physician’s online reputation, reviews and ratings, were important factors for patients when selecting a doctor. A survey conducted in 2020, found that 90% of patients said they use online reviews to evaluate physicians, and 71% reported using online reviews as the very first step to finding a new doctor. This shows that establishing a relationship of trust with patients begins even before they walk through your door.
How can healthcare providers adapt and thrive in this new reality?
The doctor-patient relationship is a therapeutic alliance that involves the patient in all aspects of their care. Good communication and interpersonal skills are needed to build rapport and trust. This often comes naturally in face-to-face settings, but how does this translate into the digital space?
People are searching for trusted answers to their medical questions online. Instead of discouraging this, you can give them the information they are looking for. As a respected physician or surgeon in your speciality, their search should lead to your page or website. In a competitive healthcare market, establishing an online reputation as a trusted expert in your field enables you to attract the right patients and establish rapport and trust even before they step through the door.
This requires engaging, useful, quality content which is frequently updated, especially for topics that are frequently searched for online. Social media can also be used to stimulate conversation and engagement with existing and potential patients.
What if I don’t have the time?
As a doctor your time and expertise are necessarily dedicated to your patients and practice, which leaves little time for creating and sharing good quality content, let alone managing your website and social media.
This is where a specialist healthcare marketing team, like MTC Communications, can help. After working to understand your goals, we will develop an effective professional branding and content marketing strategy. In today’s competitive market, creative, professionally produced content will help you stand out and build relationships with new and existing patients.
MTC Communications have a proven track record, successfully managing professional branding and marketing for leading healthcare professionals and organizations in the UAE.
We specialize in:
- Professional website design and development
- English and Arabic language medical content tailored to your audience
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Professional branding
- Media and video production
- Social media and YouTube marketing
- Lead generation
- Health awareness campaigns