How YouTube Can Boost a Physician’s Web Presence

June 20, 2012

These days, everyone in healthcare wants to jump on the Internet video bandwagon. Here’s how your practice can do it.

These days, everyone in healthcare wants to jump on the Internet video bandwagon. 

But it’s no secret that virtual visits have some barriers: Medicare still only reimburses rural health providers, and only 12 or so states have laws mandating coverage for telemedicine.

However, if you’re not doing medical visits with patients over Skype or another Internet connection, there’s another way video can boost your practice’s bottom line or reputation.

A recent survey of 2,790 healthcare professionals by AMN Healthcare, a healthcare workforce management and staffing agency, revealed that 29 percent use YouTube for professional networking. This came in only second to Facebook, which 41 percent said they used. And 23 percent said they use LinkedIn.

Ralph Henderson, president of health care staffing for AMN Healthcare, told amednews.com he was surprised to see YouTube ranked so high for networking. However, he said YouTube has a couple of strengths that can help make it worthwhile for such a task: It’s easily searchable, and videos let people feel more of a connection to someone else.

That being said, there are some downsides to using the video channel as a social networking tool, says healthcare consultant Ron Cline, a manager with QHR’s physician consulting services arm.

“YouTube is more of an entertainment outlet that can work against you,” Cline told Physicians Practice. “Assuming you make an error in your video, it can make you look foolish overnight around the world. It’s much safer to post an educational video to your own website where you have exclusive control over it. Once posted to YouTube, it’s out there forever.”

Still, there are advantages to using videos for marketing.

“People tend to believe what they see in videos so it can work to your advantage,” said Cline. “Explaining surgical procedures can assist a patient in deciding to come see you. It can’t hurt to do it if done well. Shooting your video on a cell phone will probably get you exactly what you put in to it.”

Marketing aside, Andrew Barbash, a Silver Spring, Md.-based hospital neurologist, noted that video interactions begin building relationships and trust much sooner than the standard process of a computerized referral, faxing of notes, or checking notes in an EHR system.

“Video can be used to easily capture some pictures or brief recorded snippets and get them over to another expert in a convenient non intrusive time frame for their opinion,” Barbash told Physicians Practice. “Video interactions with the front desk can begin building relationships with potential patients or clients well before the first in-person visit occurs. And video enables a level of referral support that can potentially reduce unnecessary tests before getting to a real expert in an efficient, timely fashion, or perhaps maximize the likelihood that the most appropriate testing would be done to make the real office visit even more productive for all.”

Bruce Kleaveland, a healthcare IT consultant, adds that video is a great as a patient-education tool for follow-up regimes, protocols for patients with chronic conditions, or those recovering from surgery.

“It is also excellent as a marketing tool, allowing a practice to provide a much richer sense of their practice and personalities than a written brochure or website,” he said.