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Cataract Surgery | Jul/Aug 2014

I am Multiple

Revolution of the clone in private practice.

We are all busy. Wouldn’t it be nice to clone yourself every once in a while? Some of the doctors I work with love the idea of being multiple, and there are plenty of reasons why: loads of paperwork, continuous schooling, and multiple tasks managing not only their staffs and practices but also their family lives.

With all of the responsibilities that come along with practicing medicine, one hardly has time to be a doctor. Corporate communication is absolutely the last thing on one’s mind. When is there time for that?

WHY SOCIAL MEDIA?

Communication is important. In my opinion, today’s private practices need a proper communication strategy, and social media should be an essential part of it. Worldwide, medical doctors continue to discover the benefits of social media and express the need to use them actively. Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, cited five benefits of social media in a Health Communication, Health Literacy, & Social Science Tweetchat (#hclitss):

No. 1: Learning from patients;
No. 2: Teaching patients;
No. 3: Continuing your medical education;
No. 4: Learning about your profession; and
No. 5: Exchanging information with other health care
providers.

Especially for private practices, the use of social media helps to expand one’s reach, resulting in more referrals and better patient relationship management. Having voluminous contact moments over time ensures that one’s practice is top of mind when that moment comes—the moment when the patient is ready to move forward with treatment.

But it is not just about marketing. As Hoffmann suggests, it is also about learning and teaching. Apart from connecting with patients, social media can connect doctors from around the world, widening their knowledge bases and resulting in enhanced learning and progress.

WHEN IS THERE TIME?

The above answers the question of why social media; however, we must now answer the question of when is there time for this? What if I told you that cloning— on some level—is an option? Think of the following problems and solutions:

Problem: Too much paperwork.
Solution: Hire a medical secretary.
Problem: Too many patients.
Solution: Team up with another doctor.
Problem: Extensive time commitment to manage the practice.
Solution: Hire a practice manager.

It is always a good practice to surround oneself with a team of professionals, as it gives the surgeon space and time to focus on what he or she does best: being a doctor. Likewise, hiring professionals to provide counsel in communication strategies ensures that the surgeon does not have to spend his or her time figuring out what is new on Twitter or the next step in the communication plan. These professionals can even communicate on the surgeon’s behalf in a clone-like fashion. When one is able to build a solid and trustworthy team, one can be multiple.

CONCLUSION

My team is currently coaching Erik L. Mertens, MD, FEBOphth, Director of Medipolis Medical Center and Chief Medical Editor of CRST Europe. In June, he shared his experiences in marketing refractive surgery in private practice at the American-European Congress of Ophthalmic Surgery (AECOS) meeting in Barcelona, Spain. For those who were there, I hope you enjoyed his vision and felt inspired by his findings. If not, you can read more about how we coached Dr. Mertens and how the audience received and is receiving the revolution of the clone in my next column.

Philippe Bogaert is an MBA-qualified social media strategist and Cofounder and Director of Sales and Marketing at Finger Talks. He may be reached at tel: +32 475 26 78 76; e-mail: philippe@fingertalks.be.

Jul/Aug 2014