Lights, camera, action! Internet video provides promotional, informational outlet

Mar 01, 2008, 5:00am

National report - Now that picture-and-text websites are commonplace, dermatology practices that want to stand out are finding that online videos fit the bill, sources say. This may be particularly true for cosmetic-oriented practices, they add.

Key Points

National report - Now that picture-and-text Web sites are commonplace, dermatology practices hoping to stand out are finding that online videos can help boost their visibility - particularly if the practice focuses on cosmetic services.

Internet video is "where marketing is going, not just for dermatologists, but for medicine in general. It allows patients to meet the doctor before coming into the office. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video is probably worth 1 million," says Omeed Memar, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology, Northwestern University, who has posted videos on topics including dry skin, skincare and sun safety on the public site YouTube.

"It's hard to say how people choose doctors. The more exposure to the patient you have, the better," Dr. Memar says.

"Words rarely make us cry. With video, we have an opportunity to reach people on emotional levels," he says. Combine this capability with the Internet's reach and users' appetite for online video, and the result is a "'perfect storm,'" Mr. Moloney says.

The challenge to date has been that while long-form content for traditional media abounds, he says, "There's a void in health content that's been made for this new medium."

Prospective patients should have at least as much information about healthcare as they do about purchases such as new cars, says Nina Sossamon-Pogue, director of media at http://icyou.com/, a public Web site that launched in September 2007 and, at press time, offered about 100 cosmetic surgery videos.

"To read something about a doctor and the procedures he does is one thing. But to see and hear the doctor talk about them is much more effective," she says.

From seeing "before" and "after" footage to getting an indication of the doctor's mannerisms, she says, "People want that when they're shopping for a procedure."

Streamlining visits

Video's advantages go beyond initial introductions.

Similarly, he says patients find that watching his Mohs surgery video is "a big relief - it gives them a better understanding of what's going to happen."

Seema M. Patel, M.D., M.P.H., says she began making videos because clients often have more questions than a doctor can answer in a 10-minute office visit.

"For laser hair removal," she says, "people really want to know how many treatments they need, how long a session takes, what it feels like, does it work and what are some of the reasons it might not work. If you answer all those questions beforehand, your office visit goes much faster."

Videos also help patients who are uncertain about a procedure decide at their leisure, she says.

Dr. Patel is a family practitioner and medical director at the Institute for Optimal Health & Advanced Skincare, Philadelphia.