Noel Henley, an orthopedic hand and upper extremity surgeon practicing in Fayetteville, Ark., calls himself a "visual learner" who likes to draw pictures for patients in the office to show them what is going on with their joints and bones. So when online videos started becoming popular a few years ago, he found the moving picture to be the perfect medium to educate patients in a way that was complementary to his amateur sketches.
The result: More patients searching the Internet for ortho docs in his geographic area have found him and are better educated on relevant topics before and after their visits with him.
"The most powerful effect has been that of building credibility with my own patients," says Henley, who shoots, edits, and posts his own videos to his website. "I have had and do have, every month, someone come in and mention the website and mention finding me online."
From the home page of your favorite newspaper's website to your mobile device, online videos are popping up on every piece of technology you and your patients own. But although video offers numerous benefits, from boosting your online presence (and the likelihood patients will find you online) to educating existing patients on important topics, the overwhelming majority of physicians haven't realized its potential, says Dean Heller, a Miami-based cardiologist and president of VideoMD, an online video-sharing service.
"Not only can physicians introduce themselves and their practices to potential patients, but they can and should be using online video to help with their own patients' education," says Heller. "Doctors never have enough time in the office to fully educate their patients, and online video can help supplement that."
The good news is that making a video is inexpensive and probably a lot easier than you think, and doesn't require a professional film crew. Here are three steps you can take to get videos up and running pronto sans the help of a videographer.
Step one: Planning
Before you do anything online, from writing a blog to posting a video, figuring out your purpose is key: Are you posting a video to educate potential patients on a specific area of interest, such as flu vaccines or joint pain? Or, are you offering potential patients an inside look into your specialty medical practice, and what they can expect on their first visit?
The type of video you make will determine how long it is. And for online videos, shorter is sometimes sweeter.
Salem, Ohio-based family medicine physician Mike Sevilla started creating videos a few years ago to expand his social media footprint. As such, most of his videos are accompaniments to his online blog "Family Medicine Rocks" and are thus inspired by blog topics.
"What I would do is take a piece of that blog post and then do a 30-second video clip on a key point of that blog post, to emphasize a specific point," says Sevilla.
For example, every year he writes a blog post about flu shots, and uses the accompanying video to answer common concerns, such as whether the flu vaccine causes the flu.
Henley's video collection, meanwhile, comprises short, one-minute segments titled after the questions they answer (e.g., "Can Carpel Tunnel Syndrome Come Back?"). Other videos that show demonstrations of procedures (such as diagnosing a cyst) are a bit longer and require a second person to hold a camera. To protect patient privacy, he doesn't include any patient-identifying footage.