Digital Word of Mouth Online Communities

A Reminder Where Patients Come From

This post falls under the “obvious but important” category.

Word-of-mouth has changed over the years. Consumers once turned to friends and family for input and advice when selecting a new primary care physician or specialist. Today, peer-to-peer word-of-mouth has expanded to include an individual’s connections on social media and online platforms. For healthcare consumers today, digital word-of-mouth is an important and trusted method for gaining recommendations and information on quality providers. I see this all the time on listservs and online communities that I belong to. This should come as no surprise to any of us. However, what surprises me is that most healthcare marketers don’t take advantage or recognize the opportunity represented by online groups where people exchange information about primary care docs, pediatricians, OBGYNs, etc. This represents a missed opportunity.

Does your team know where these online conversations are taking place in your community? What are the online communities and listservs that you should be monitoring? Have you put resources in the hands of your best advocates and community moderators so they can easily direct friends and neighbors to your providers? It is important to recognize that these conversations take place with or without your participation and support.

Here’s a recent example from my neighborhood’s version of Nextdoor:

My daughter goes to College of Charleston and both my wife and I subscribe to the parents’ listserv. There are regular posts where mothers of students (95% of the time) are looking for provider recommendations. Members of the group do not hesitate to offer up recommendations.

How could your healthcare organization or medical practice position itself as an important resource for these individuals and groups seeking guidance online? Do you have a plan for monitoring these conversations and engaging these communities/conversations? Most online communities and listservs have moderators who you can reach out to, build a relationship with, and provide resources. When the time is right, they can share your pre-packaged information with members of the group.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is an obvious and important opportunity that is often neglected or simply overlooked.


1 comment on “A Reminder Where Patients Come From

  1. Always great perspective for the industry Dan. Thanks for all you do!

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