When a doctor answers a potential patient’s question in an email or consultation, he or she has a great opportunity to help that one person. Doctors who do so online can potentially help thousands — and, it’s worth noting, themselves at the same time.
Consider this infographic from the RealSelf Trends blog, which notes that Austin plastic surgeon Jennifer Walden, MD, recently provided the one-millionth answer to questions posed by community members on RealSelf:
The time doctors have devoted to sharing their expertise this way — more than 230,000 hours over the last five years! — is truly commendable. For one thing, they do it between surgeries, after hours, or while grabbing a quick lunch. For another, it’s safe to say that, in many cases, they’ll never even meet many of the people posing the questions they answer.
So why do it? The underlying desire to help people aside, answering questions online offers exponential exposure to thousands of other like-minded consumers — we’re talking 3.4 billion impressions by appearing on RealSelf’s Q&A pages! — even as it can help improve search rank and counter the “junk science” prevalent elsewhere on the web. And if the first million answers can do that, just think of what the next million will do.
Responding to consumer questions provides answers for doctors
The questions consumers post online offer direct insight into the issues that most concern people considering aesthetic procedures, insights which can be used to shape your content and messaging more effectively. Delivering that content by answering their questions reinforces the concept, generating exposure, building trust, and laying the foundation for future interaction.