The increasingly competitive healthcare climate means that radiologists should spend more time developing their brand, according to an article written by Dr. Hilda Tso and Dr. Jay Parikh of MD Anderson Cancer Center (JACR, March 30, 2018). Radiologists and radiology departments can use successful branding to increase market share and differentiate themselves from competitors, but such branding seems to be an underdeveloped area, the authors believe, with studies reporting that patients are not aware their radiologists are physicians and don't understand their role in patient care.
Facebook could be a solution, according to Tso and Parikh. Many businesses are already using Facebook to leverage their marketing activities, but it could have particular utility for radiologists and radiology practices, reaching "millions of viewers who otherwise could not be reached." Healthcare organizations can use Facebook to perform a number of functions:
- Educate patients about medical diagnoses, share best practices with the community, accept feedback, and notify the public of changes in policies or practices.
- Generate immediate interactions between the organization and patients or between patients in similar circumstances.
- Improve relationships with referring physicians.
Facebook can also help radiologists with their personal branding, Tso and Parikh believe. This can help radiologists dispel the stereotype that they sit in dark rooms all day.
The authors recommend that radiologists create Facebook Pages for their professional activities that are distinct from Facebook Profiles for personal use. Activity on social media can help radiologists become "influencers" of the public, keep them top of mind among both patients and referring physicians, and even help them communicate with other radiologists.
The authors addressed the privacy issues that have gotten Facebook into hot water recently, noting that privacy is the main concern radiologists have about Facebook. Tso and Parikh advised radiologists to construct separate public and personal profiles, to stay abreast of regulations on disclosure of patient information, and never to establish a physician-patient relationship via online communication.
By keeping these issues in mind, radiology professionals can maximize the value of Facebook for their personal branding while minimizing its risk.
"A strong brand will earn the radiologist a place in the patient's or referring physician's mental Rolodex," they wrote. "This may be very important for professional success because in today's changing medical climate, being well-educated and competent is not sufficient for job security."
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