The do's and don'ts for physicians posting online video

March 1, 2008

National report -- For dermatologists interested in posting online videos, experts offer these do's and don'ts.

Key Points

National report - For dermatologists interested in posting online videos, experts offer these do's and don'ts:

• Be brief. "Nobody's going to watch a 15-minute video, so keep it under one to two minutes," says John L. Meisenheimer, M.D., chief of Orlando (Fla.) Regional Medical Center's dermatology division.

• Act 'natural.' "It's actually pretty easy for dermatologists to talk about what we talk about all day long. Just pretend the camera is a patient," Dr. Meisenheimer says.

For physicians who are uncomfortable speaking to a camera, she suggests seating a person near it and addressing him or her as if you're being interviewed. "Or have someone actually interview you, so you seem more natural," she says.

• Rehearse. When making videos, says Seema M. Patel, M.D., M.P.H., a family practitioner in Philadelphia, "Most people talk too much. Viewers want something that's very concise." Using a script - and perhaps a teleprompter for speeches longer than 30 seconds - helps, Dr. Meisenheimer says. "You want to sound professional - no hemming and hawing."

• Steady as she goes. Dr. Meisenheimer says the biggest mistake he sees people making with their own videos is that they try to hold the camera themselves.

"Invest in a cheap tripod to make the camera rock-steady. A hand-held camera reeks of amateurism," he says.

Content aside, Dr. Patel says that if a video looks too fuzzy or unprofessional, "It won't get picked up by other organizations. We've seen a lot of videos that have the same information as ours, but they were so poorly done they didn't get picked up by any other Web sites."

Dr. Meisenheimer says, "I've been approached by companies to do videos costing many times what they should be charging. Unfortunately, there are many video companies waiting to prey on doctors who don't realize what they should be paying."

The going rate - $1,000 per minute - is too high, he says.

• Protect your privacy. Some physicians don't realize that once you post a video, Dr. Patel says, "People are going to be Googling your private information as well." A lot of information on physicians - such as provider ID and DEA numbers - is already online, and many derms don't know that, she says.

Accordingly, "List only what you want people to know," she says. Ditto for trade secrets.