Web 2.0 refers to the changing trends of the Internet, particularly with web design, which aims to enhance communication, information sharing, collaboration and functionality on the web.
Just a few years ago, most web pages were static. When visiting a website one found the site had stagnant text with little or no user interaction. Today, web pages are much more dynamic. And as a result, new hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis and blogs are more prominent on the web.
When I think of Web2.0, I often think of Internet companies, or technology companies or even media companies. But is there an opportunity to welcome social networks and blogs in a traditional medical practice?
Yes! There is potential for medical practices to embrace all the Web2.0 tools the web has to offer. Moreover, pediatric practices in particular are in a better position – than other medical specialties – to adopt Web2.0 because patients and parents tend to be younger. And the younger demographic tend to embrace new Internet trends faster than older demographics.
Also, utilizing Web2.0 is a great way to create a community around one’s patients/parent. Sharing information, connecting with patient and allowing patient to interact with the practice in more ways is a great way to promote your practice.
What are some of the Web2.0 tools that are available for your practice to implement? And once you implment them, what can you do with them?
- Website: I know this is simple one, but most of the doctor’s website I’ve visited are lame. If you haven’t updated your practice’s website in 3 to 5 years, it is time you do so. Take a couple of hours and surf the web. See what you think is cool and what draws your attention. Then go back to your site and evaluate it. Does your site seem inviting compared to others? Does the site answer basic questions parents ask when deciding on a pediatrician? Is there an opportunity for web surfers to interact with the medical office using the site? A good place to start and get ideas is by visiting hospital’s websites. Hospitals generally tend to have a better pulse when it comes to design and web site development.
- Blog: starting a blog is a great way to bring patients/parents back to the site. It is also another way for patients to get information about new vaccines, benefits of certain treatments, do’s and don’t, promote preventive wellness and even promote upcoming events such as flu clinics, school and sport physical season among many others things. You don’t have to give medical advice on your blog, but you can discuss things like why it is important to put sunscreen on your child in the summer months or how watching too much TV increases children’s chances at obesity. Blogs are easy to set up and in some cases, free.
- Twitter. Twitter is hard to explain. You almost need to try it out first in order for this recommendation to make sense. Check it out at twitter.com. You can also check our practice’s twitter feed at http://twitter.com/spediatrics or @spediatrics to get an idea of what we are doing with it. Twitter can be used to inform patients and parents about different events, tips, healthy living among other things, but faster than a regular blog.
- Video: Video on the web has also taken off recently. As more people have broadband at home, streaming an online video is not very difficult. Producing a video and publishing it is also very easy. In fact, if you have a camera, a computer, and Internet connection, you can post a video to the web very quickly and free, by the way. Sites like YouTube.com and vimeo.com now come with features that allow you to embed your video on your site. So let’s assume one of your doctors wants to dispel some of the myths about vaccinations and Autism. Conceivably, you can shoot a video, uploaded to one of the video hosting sites, embed the file to your website and your done. Now patients can get information directly from the practice, as opposed to Dr. Google.
- Facebook: Facebook allows you to set up a community for your patients. Most people use Facebook to keep in contact with friends, family and old acquaintances. But it also works for keeping in-touch with your patients. For example, if one of your doctors recently made a speech, you can share updates and pictures of the event. You can also share articles, links and resources on it. Like Twitter, you can inform patients/parents of different events as well as ask for feedback. For example, ask your “fans” what they think about the new office, the new policy you’ve implemented or their thoughts if the practice starts charging for telephone calls. To check out our Facebook page click on the this link: http://bit.ly/4AAmNj
Fundamentally Web2.0 is all about connecting with people. Web2.0 tools can be used by business looking to expand their contacts or keep in touch with current customers. Likewise, medical practices have a unique opportunity to not only expand their patient base, but more important, stay connected with patients/parents by utilizing web-enabled tools to enhance the relationship between the doctor, the patient and the practice.
I’d love to hear your thoughts onWeb2.0 and how medical practices can embrace these new tools.