Monday, November 23, 2009

Relevance of social media for Doctors in India

It is important for doctors to market their service through all available tools/mediums and social media is one of the tools.
Here I have tried to list down various types of marketing tools used by healthcare professionals in the order of there importance:
  1. Word-of-mouth
  2. Public lectures or seminars
  3. Being a visiting consultant with more hospitals
  4. Featuring in media stories
  5. Websites
  6. Participating in free check-up camps
  7. Giving lectures at CMEs
  8. Social Media

The above comprehensive list gives a good amount of publicity for the doctors to portray their services to their customers (patients, media, doctors, etc). With the advent of new technology and informed patients it has become prerogative for doctors to address using new mediums and be connected with there patients.

Now looking this scenario from Indian context the doctors are quite bearish accepting these new mediums. They still think and believe in the traditional form of marketing i.e. Word-of-mouth. The new generation of doctors are to a large extent aware about new ways to market themselves.

Doctors now are aware about treating their patients, keeping a stock of disease awareness brochures in d clinic, are available on mobile and email, don’t mind debating with patients and updated with latest developments in d medical science field.

Social media through freely available there is investment of time and this will be managed by trained Social Media Optimisation (SMO) consultants.

The SMO creates and helps to design various templates like account on twitter, facebook, wordpress, linkedin, plaxo, connect doctors , etc. Also creating the doctors website and aligning with these different social networking platforms. All these platforms will then be used by doctor to inform his patients about his knowledge, case studies, booking of appointments, etc.

Below is a small eg to showcase how social media can become a boon for healthcare professionals and doctors, check out on -

Doctors do not know how to market themselves - Jagdeep Kapoor

Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt Limited On how doctors should market themselves

How can a doctor market himself, when advertising is prohibited for the medical community?
So what if doctors are not allowed to advertise themselves? Advertising is just a minor part of marketing, and there are various ways a doctor can market himself. I want to debunk the myth that marketing is unethical. Ethical marketing is permissible. Doctors can market themselves within the purview of the existing prohibition.

What brand mantras do you propagate, keeping in mind the restrictions?
We advocate simple and practical tips to doctors for improving their marketing skills. Firstly, we stress on relationship building with the patient, which we call relationship marketing. ‘Sambandh’ is better than ‘sab-bandh’. A doctor needs to build a personal relationship with the patient by making minor efforts like remembering the name of the patients, writing the name correctly and being polite to them.
Most doctors get irritated when simple piece of information is asked. They behave as if the patient is wasting his time, by asking him that question. A doctor must not treat the patient as an imbecile. These days most of the urban and educated patients before going to a doctor are aware of the nature of the disease, by dint of the internet. The patient should go back not with scare but with care.
Secondly, to build a big brand name use a small brand name. Research has shown that small brand names do better than interminably long names. If a doctor has a long name, which the patient cannot even pronounce, then the doctor needs to shorten his name. Same holds true for hospital and clinic name. Thirdly, the doctor needs to make himself visible. We hear of doctors who are good at work and practicing for decades, with not too many people knowing about him. This is because the doctor has not made a conscious effort to make himself known through word of mouth. This hurdle can be overcome by getting involved in social work. If a doctor participates in honorary work, then people come to know him and that is how he becomes more popular.
Lastly, intangible is as important as tangible. Show the patient that you care for him, by uttering encouraging words, and even patting him. Be sensitive and sympathetic while informing a patient about serious illness and when breaking the death news to relatives.

Can you give us an overview of Samsika Marketing Consultants?
The first strategic marketing consultancy in India, Samsika is the catalyst that helps corporations grow and make their mark in the market. The complexities of the marketplace are Samsika’s greatest challenges and to meet them, Samsika offers its exclusive service. Being the only specialist marketing strategy consultancy in the country, Samsika is fully equipped on all aspects of brand building, whether it is advertising or public relations, market or media research. The Samsika team works closely with clients, steering, guiding, advising and pushing the brand’s graph to an upward incline. Our brand mantras have been penned in three books- "24 Brand Mantras" and "Brand Serve-31 Customer Service Prescriptions" and "Brand Naamkaran".

Are Indian doctors more insensitive and curt, in comparison with their western counterpart?
We cannot generalise about Indian doctors. Even if Indian doctors are revered and given the status of demi-gods, they definitely do not know how to market themselves. At the reception, when patients enquire about the report, it is common practice that receptionists reply curtly. Some even say "What do you want the report immediately. How is that possible? You just gave your sample now." Why cannot the patient be replied politely? Why would the patient be made to feel undeserving, when he is paying such a hefty sum? Indian doctors need to come down from the pedestal that they seat, segregating themselves from the patient.

Has there been a change in the attitude of doctors over the years?
Yes, in the last two-three years there has been a positive change. A research conducted by Samsika which involved 1900 service providers from seven different industry in 2001-2002 reflects the change. It shows that customers are looking for care, world class treatment and sensitivity of the service provider. In healthcare, the change can be attributed to the emphasis shifting from cure to care.

Sourced from # expresshealthcaremgmt