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Getting Doctors Onboard with Hospital Blogs and Social Media

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
Photo of Brian Vartabedian

Bryan Vartabedian, MD

It may not be as difficult as you suspect to recruit doctors to your blog. Here’s a doctor’s perspective on how to sell the idea to busy doctors.

In a previous post, we spotlighted pediatric gastroenterologist Bryan Vartabedian, MD as one of the relatively rare “social media role models” among physicians. He describes his blog as being about the convergence of social media and medicine.

In our view, his posts are insightful, articulate and informative. And his blog—33 Charts—is always a thought-provoking read, and a sterling example of social media that other doctors might want to emulate.

His words jumped out at us again recently with candid advice for hospital administrators, marketing professionals and practice administrators. (Indirectly, perhaps he’s also speaking to fellow doctors.)

Used here with his permission, Dr. Vartabedian’s post offers valuable and persuasive ideas about doctors, blogs and social media:

How to Recruit Doctors for a Strong Blogging Presence

So you’re a hospital or a medical school, you’ve got a new blog that’s getting traction. But you want more of your doctors on board. You’ve reached out by traditional means, but not a lot of uptake. So what do you do?

Your timing is great since doctors are increasingly venturing out into public spaces to write, record, converse and curate. They’re curious. Most institutions are on the rise with their digital presence and the marriage couldn’t be better.

Here are a few ideas:

Create the value proposition. Tweets are cheap, but time’s expensive. Be prepared to tell and sell what’s in it for them. For many doctors this it’s the visibility of a public presence that has the most value. In large institutions this may mean the opportunity for the medical director of the new CV program to get a leg up on the competition. I’ve found that when I speak to physician groups on how and why to develop a public presence, the idea of the digital footprint really resonates. Many doctors are preoccupied with their online reputation. When they hear that they can create their own story or have it created for them, many are willing to sign up on the spot.

Take the load off their back. Sell the idea that they’re potentially better off blogging with you than on their own. Most physicians don’t want the headache of establishing a WordPress site or posting frequently. Many want the outlet without all the commitment. And then there’s the perception of risk and liability (much more of a perception) that can play in your favor.

Make it easy. Doctors aren’t trained to write and create. Offer to brainstorm, outline, ghostwrite or interview.

Offer to mix the media. I’m better in front of a word processor than I am in front of a video camera. Some doctors would rather talk than write. Sometimes finding the right media is the ticket. For those willing to give it a try, offer a couple of options to see what sticks.

Meet them where they’re at. Then ask them to come aboard. Create and publicize a 30 minute introductory pitch session that your deliver to the faculty across your campus. Offer it at different times and different venues. You’d be surprised who shows up and who’s curious about stepping up.

Create case studies. If you have a couple of doctors creating for you who have had some early success, tell how it’s worked. Tell how it might have been used to leverage the mainstream media. Use analytics and grab a screen shot showing unique visitors during one of the busier posts. Physicians, like hospital admins, like graphs that go up and they’re often looking to meet a challenge. And if you don’t have any staff blogging for you yet, profile some from other public physicians. Showcase the traction they see on Twitter or the comments they draw.

A doctor who is still on the blogging and social media sidelines can recognize these benefits. And hospital and healthcare marketing folks might be pleasantly surprised by their willingness to get onboard when you clear a pathway for them.

Related reading: See Doctor Marketing: Patients Are Always Judging You.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

See how Healthcare Success transforms doctor marketing by generating exposure and increasing qualified leads!

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Bryan Vartabedian, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and an attending physician at Texas Children’s Hospital. His bio reads in part, [Since 2006] “I’ve been an active witness to the social health revolution and its influence on doctors and patients. I write about the intersection of medicine, social media and technology.” Dr. Vartabedian’s article, How to Recruit Doctors for a Strong Blogging Presence, was originally published on his blog, 33 Charts, and is used here with his permission.

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