Farrah Hunt - Thompson

Physician Participation on the Web

by User Not Found | Mar 02, 2010
Do your physicians actively participate on your healthcare organization’s Web site? We all know a Web site can be a powerful tool for our organizations. Unfortunately, getting that message across to certain areas of the healthcare organization can be a difficult task.  Even for those who are lucky enough to be working in a Web savvy environment, finding physicians to participate can be an even larger challenge. A physician’s time is valuable and asking them to participate in something outside their hectic daily schedule has to be worth-while. Today’s physicians have full schedules and hardly have the time to update their staff photo or bio for the Web site, let alone participate in major Web projects.  However, at the University Of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) the Web team has found an area where physicians are embracing and participating on UMMC’s Web site. Partnering with the organization’s physicians, the Web team has created a sophisticated “Ask an Expert” feature unlike most seen on health care organization Web sites.  When a visitor enters “Ask an Expert” they are not met with the usual contact or question form, instead they are presented with a long list of topics and the doctor to whom they can submit their question(s).  Once a topic is selected the user is taken to an information page on the topic. If the visitor’s question cannot be answered from the information provided, the user has the option to ask the doctor a question through a link provided on the information page. The page also contains relevant integrated content, such as the physician’s profile, videos and other related content from throughout the Web site. An article recently released showcases the success of UMMC’s “Ask an Expert” feature.  The Web team has partnered with more than 80 experts from around the organization to answer questions submitted by the public through the Web site.  Questions are routed to the appropriate physicians through the Web editors. Questions are answered within three days of submission, but physicians usually accomplish it within 24 hours.  Through this one Web site feature UMMC is able to accomplish customer service, community education, patient recruitment and can easily show ROI. Even though the physicians are aware that each question submitted isn’t an automatic patient, they are aware that each question submitted is a potential patient and many have recruited patients, including international patients, by participating and partnering with the Web team. What about your own organization? Do you have Web savvy physicians participating in Web projects? What is your recruiting advice for the rest of us? Obviously, UMMC shows us it can be done; however, we have to be able to show our physicians why it’s key to have their participation.

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