Imagine a patient searches online for you only to discover your online business listing says your practice is permanently closed.
This recently happened to a well-respected, mid-career surgical oncologist with a loyal patient base. Opting for a new role, he joined a hospital an hour from his previous workplace. Unfortunately, his former employer managed his online business listing, marked his practice permanently closed, and offered no forwarding contact information. This made it highly challenging for the oncologist’s patients to locate him, even though he was still practicing nearby. Allowing his former employer to manage his online presence proved to be a costly mistake.
Changing practices is extremely common.
Studies reveal that 40 to 70 percent of health care professionals change employers within the first five years of practice. Notably, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a peak in career transitions among health care providers. According to a 2022 survey by CHG Healthcare involving over 500 physicians, 43 percent opted for job changes.
The primary factors influencing providers to change employment include:
- Striking a balance between work and personal life
- Financial considerations
- Relocating to a new geographical area, either out of state or within the same town
- Seeking career advancement opportunities
- Expressing dissatisfaction with the current work environment
Future-proof your practice: Own your brand online
Not owning and actively managing your online presence is health care providers’ number one mistake. Your name is your brand. Cultivating and safeguarding your name online is crucial to future-proofing your practice. There is no way to predict where life will take you, so it’s imperative you take steps now to protect your online reputation.
Owning your brand online provides the following advantages in the event you move jobs:
1. Keep your hard-earned patient reviews. When you manage your online presence on review platforms, you ensure the preservation of your patient reviews, regardless of where you practice. Conversely, if your employer controls your listings, you risk losing years’ worth of reviews if you relocate or switch practices. Even worse, they could terminate your business listing, making it challenging for your patients to locate you.
2. Seamlessly communicate the move with your patients. Maintaining an online presence simplifies keeping patients informed about your practice. If you ever choose to move practices, employers typically notify your patients about your departure but often omit your forwarding contact details. Having the ability to communicate during transition periods is crucial to retaining patients. Owning your online business listings and website establishes a strong connection with patients, enabling them to locate you online quickly.
For long-term practice success, invest in your personal brand online.
The competition for patients is online. You must own your online presence if you rely on patients to find and select you as their provider. Don’t rely on your employer or group’s practice manager to set up your online profiles. Reclaiming your online business listings can be difficult and time-consuming if you ever change where you practice.
While managing your online presence might seem daunting and outside your area of expertise, don’t let that hold you back. Once you understand the fundamentals, you can decide the best approach to cultivate your online presence – either by managing it yourself or hiring help. Dedicating time and resources to developing your brand online is an investment in the future of your practice, making the endeavor financially worthwhile.
Marita McCahill is the founder of practiceGRO, a health care growth strategy consulting firm. She is passionate about developing, implementing, and executing creative programs to help health care practitioners build brand awareness, improve patient relations, and scale their practice. She can be reached on Facebook and Instagram @practice_gro.
Nowhere in medical school do they teach personal branding and how to grow your practice by attracting more of your ideal patients. Marita identified how a niche online course could address this learning gap, and practiceGRO Marketing 101 was born! In this eight-hour, self-paced, CME-approved course, she breaks down all the marketing jargon to the crux of what you need to understand and identifies the necessary actions to grow your practice exponentially.