|By Rebecca Gill||
|December 18, 2012 02:32 PM EST||
I remember landing my first real job and having my first insurance card. I was not only proud of my accomplishment; I was thrilled that I had health insurance. That may sound strange, but I did not have medical insurance for much of my childhood and for the years I was in college. Being able to go to any doctor I wanted was more than a treat. It was fantastic!
I was equally excited the first time I realized the power of the internet and I could see it had the ability it had to change the world. That may sound just as strange, but I’m fairly passionate about internet marketing, so it was a powerful and memorable day for me.
One day the two experiences collided and I realized medical professionals and websites just don’t seem to fit within the same universe. Or at least that has been my experience with our metro Detroit physicians. When I realized this disconnect, I felt deflated.
As advanced as these professionals are with healthcare and medicine, technology, and in particular internet marketing, tends to escape them. Or frighten them. I’m not quite sure. But I struggle with it, because I know there are tons of excellent health professionals who need an internet presence.
I also know there are many consumers (aka future patients) who need a solid method for researching healthcare professionals. Something tangible, that provides credible information, that tells you which physicians serve a particular practice area, where they are located and how and when you can interact with these professionals.
I haven’t come to this theory lightly. I’ve lived in the suburbs of southeast Michigan for over two decades and I haven’t met one doctor, dentist, or healthcare professional that I could say was rocking the internet. This pains me, because I believe in internet marketing and I know it can make a difference.
An Illustration of My Point
To illustrate my point, we’ll use me as an example and review my team of medical providers and their online presence.
- Family Physician – No website. Just a listing on Google Local with two reviews. One is horrible and the other is adequate. My doctor’s office is dated and the doctors themselves are close to retirement, so the lack of internet presence is not surprising. I’d love to find a new family doctor, but I’ve not had success locating one on my own. By nature I would use the internet to research available options.
- Endocrinologist – My endocrinologist, who I greatly admire, looks at me with confusion when I speak of technology. He believes no one ever uses the internet to search for potential doctors therefore he refuses to build a website. He is highly intelligent and for seven years I’ve driven 45 minutes each way to visit him every four months. Yet the only things you can locate about him on the internet are bad reviews on websites like Vitals and Heathgrades. When I refer people to him, I purposely give them all the contact information so they don’t go look for him online. I know my doctor would like more patients, but he refuses to take one step into the online world.
- Obstetrician and Gynecologist – This group is a bit different. They have a website and the team of doctors blog monthly. They not only blog, they use Facebook and they send a quarterly newsletters to patients. I can tell you the feedback on Facebook is great and I know that they do receive new clients from their blogging efforts. They were not always like this, but when I rambled about internet marketing and how it could help, they listened. I wanted this team to be a success. They are great doctors who have served me well for a decade.
- Dentist – I love my dentist. He is kind, caring, and he puts up with my neurosis. The dental offices does have a website, although it is not user friendly and it looks like a coder designed it. But at least I can find information when I need it and I have some place to send people when they ask for referrals.
- Orthodontist – My daughter’s orthodontist is also a wonderful medical provider. He has an old and outdated website that is anything but user friendly. The orthodontist is highly approachable and so willing to share his insight when you are with him in person. His website is just the opposite. When I refer people to him, I give them all the contact information so they don’t go look for a website. I know his website does not come close to projecting the quality of care available from this provider.
Are Medical Providers Afraid of Technology?
I think many doctors don’t believe in the power of search. They do not think real people search for physicians via the internet. They are wrong. Really really wrong. And even if they were a little right, patients still vet referrals out by Googling the physician’s name.
Again I come back to the fact that I would quickly switch to a new family physician if I could find one I liked in my area. My husband has been begging me to do so for two years.
Industry Best Practices and Advice for Building Medical Websites
I wondered if I was being overly critical or if just expect too much from this industry. I’m a nerd and maybe I’m wrong. People might not use the internet as much as I think. So I asked around and here is some feedback I received:
- “The content on the site should be geared for the 6th grade reading level. Rather than using words like “oncology”, use “cancer” because those are the terms people are search for and familiar with.” – Leah Luddine from TrendSetter Communications
- “People often want to do their own credibility checks. Not having a website may make someone question how long the practice has been in operation.” – Anthony Kirlew from AKA Internet Marketing
- “As a financial planner to dentists, I frequently discuss the importance and cost/benefit of various marketing proposals. I see more and more dentists using social media (primarily Facebook), some quite effectively. A surprising number of small dental practices are just now coming online with web sites, very few use e-mail communication with their patients, more use texting.” - Sharon Weaver from Mission Financial Planning, Inc.
- “Social Media is important, but can be extremely time consuming when done properly. Most clinics will not have the resources to stay active on Facebook or Twitter. We encourage our clients to have each practitioner at the office write one article a month to post on the blog and share.” - Nadeem Kassam from Connect the Doc
- “Professional websites can also build a level of trust with a potential patient early on. If a website looks dated or less professional, it can lead patients to believe that the practice is also dated, or lacks quality. By having an up to date, professional looking website doctors can build trust up front with potential patients doing research online, while also better serving their existing patients with the latest news and information from their practice.” – Mike Wilton from Plastic Surgery Studios
Along Came an Idea
A few months ago my friend Rachel came to me with an idea. She owns an internet marketing firm and she wanted to work with medical professionals to help them with internet marketing and ongoing patient communication. When she mentioned the idea of creating WordPress themes for medical websites I jumped at the chance. I thought it was a great idea. After all, I already knew the need existed and now Rachel (who I know to be excellent at what she does), wanted to get her company more involved with this industry.
So this fall my firm create three medical WordPress themes specifically designed for this niche. With Rachel’s guidance our graphic designer crafted three different theme options that were designed specifically for small medical offices like doctors, audiologist, dentists, chiropractors and the like. The WordPress themes offer an excellent solution, as they are professional looking while still being economical.
Our new WordPress themes include three different websites designs:
Any of these three themes could be used for a host of medical websites. They all have the same premise: easy of use, easy to find contact information, and social sharing options. All three themes are available for purchase in our online theme store.
Still Fearful of Launching Your Own Website?
If you like one of these themes, but you’re not quite sure if the whole DIY website thing is right for you, have no fear. If you’d like assistance setting up one of these medical website, Rachel and her team at The Inforum Network are available for assistance. They’ll not only set up your new website, they’ll also manage ongoing content creation and newsletter management.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 28, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,159
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,303
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,637
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,308
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,473
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,670
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,284
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,231
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,243
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,525
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,500
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,331
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,396
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,241
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,191
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,626
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,721
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,625
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,751
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,787