Electronic media offer new channels for savvy derms to connect with patients

September 1, 2010

Although many dermatologists have not yet embraced social media - such as the wildly popular Facebook - for their practices, others are finding that these tools can provide a targeted, cost-efficient and increasingly useful channel for connecting with patients, experts say.

Key Points

EDITOR'S NOTE: Considering expanding your social network? Connecting digitally with patients can be efficient and cost-effective. In this issue, we look at some of the do's and don'ts of reaching out via popular media, as well as how an enhanced virtual presence can boost your practice.

National report - Although many dermatologists have not yet embraced social media - such as the wildly popular Facebook - for their practices, others are finding that these tools can provide a targeted, cost-efficient and increasingly useful channel for connecting with patients, experts say.

"Many practices are investing in websites, which are expensive to set up, (but) it costs nothing to set up a Facebook page, which is very easy to do," says Helen M. Torok, M.D., owner and medical director of Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery Center, Medina, Ohio, and a member of the Dermatology Times Editorial Council.

Investing in social media can boost your practice's visibility. Consider that Facebook, the world's most popular social networking site, has now surpassed 500 million users, half of whom visit daily, the company reports.

"You need to be everywhere, because you don't know where your next patient is going to be looking for you," says Monique E. Ramsey, principal of Cosmetic Social Media of La Jolla, Calif., a consultant specializing in social media and online marketing for aesthetic medical practices.

She notes that although patients remain physicians' main source of referrals, potential patients now use the Web to "get a sense of you before committing."

Still, she says, many physicians remain leery of social media, because they don't know what the media are, how to start using them, or why they may be useful.