How to include your docs in your healthcare content marketing program

Dr Russell Faust discusses the real role of a content marketing officer (CMO) in a hospital or large medical practice. He provides eight tips as to how physicians can be included in the marketing conversation, further building the relationship and trust with patients.

Let’s say that you’re responsible for marketing and communications at your hospital or large medical practice; perhaps even a large multi-hospital system. In the digital age, that means your job title is something like:

• Online Community Manager

• Social Media Specialist

• Digital Strategist

• Content Marketing Manager

• or something similar

For the sake of discussion, let’s simply refer to you as the Chief Marketing Officer, or CMO.

But the CMO in a healthcare organization isn’t actually selling anything.

It’s not as if you’re selling a book, or pair of shoes, or whatever. A sale is not your call-to-action. No: as the CMO for your healthcare organization, your call-to-action is for someone to trust your doctors and your facility enough to come there for their care.

So how do you build that trust?

Well, this is where classic marketing comes in: this is the marketing triad of the know-like-trust relationship. That is, your “customer” – member of your potential patient community – must move along the path of knowing “you,” liking “you,” and trusting “you” enough to come to “you” for their healthcare.

“…your call-to-action is for someone to trust your doctors and your facility enough to come there for their care.”

Why did I place “you” in quotations?

Because your community members and potential patients for your organization are not interested in developing a relationship with you, the CMO. No: your community members want to get to know, like, and trust the people that they will come to for care – namely, your doctors. It’s not about you. It’s not even about your doctors. It’s about your community, and what they want. And – trust me on this, I’m a doctor – they want a relationship with their doctor!

That’s right: at the risk of sounding politically-incorrect, it’s the relationship with your doctors that people are interested in. When we are sick and need care we don’t think, “I really need to see my mid-level healthcare provider“. We think instead, “I need to see my doctor“. And, ideally, not just any doctor, but my doctor. So there it is. In order for your Content Marketing Program to have optimal success, you must connect with your community through conversation; through relationship- building. And, ideally, your doctors must be part of those conversations and relationships.

Where to start?

Let’s start by giving your Content Marketing Program a more accurate name: let’s call it your Content Connecting Program. Because that’s your goal: to connect with your community. It’s not about selling. It’s not about marketing. It’s about connecting.

Then you need to accept that your community isn’t interested in a relationship with you, the CMO, or you, the copywriter. They’re interested in a relationship with their doctor. Don’t take it personally.

Next, include your docs in the conversation

How? How do you develop the sense in your community that they are building a relationship with their doctors? Aye, there’s the rub. This is the challenge. This is why you’re making the big bucks!

Here are eight tips for including your docs in the conversation:

1. It’s okay for the “relationship” to be a little one-sided: Surprisingly, when patients have access to photos, videos, and articles (content) from their doctors, they feel that they know them, even if they’ve never met! So, in your Content Connecting Program, include photos of your docs, videos of your docs, and articles by your docs.

What’s that? Your docs don’t write articles? Have someone else write the articles, but have your docs check them for technical and medical accuracy, and include your docs in the byline. Now they’re part of the conversation, at least from the patient’s perspective!


“Content Connecting is about providing useful, accurate, trustworthy healthcare information that your community is looking for…”


2. Don’t broadcast: This one-sided relationship is not the typical outbound marketing message! It is not broadcasting the message that your facilities are the best, with the latest and greatest. That’s not content connecting. Healthcare Content Connecting is about providing useful, accurate, trustworthy healthcare information that your community is looking for, and including your doctors in that content.

3. Tap into doctor’s motives: EVERY physician wants to help; that’s why they went into medicine. Given an opportunity to help guide your Content Connecting Program with a minimal time-investment, some doctors will contribute. Perhaps you can find a doc that will help edit content that is produced by non-medical types. Perhaps you can find a doc who has a nice slide-deck they use to give a talk to community groups: take that slide deck to an infographics-artist who can turn it into an infographic to post online. Perhaps you have a doc with some great hand-out content in their clinic that you can digitize for your online Content Program. Sit down with your team and brainstorm! Perform a Content Audit! You may be surprised at how much great content you already own. All that content in clinics is “patient-facing,” and nearly all of it was produced by physicians. Be sure that your doc’s name is on it when you post it online.

4. Every doctor is an educator: Every doc wants an educated patient, so every doc is a teacher. (Whether they are any good at teaching is another story altogether). They all have information they would love their patients to know before they arrive in clinic for their first visit. Go get that information! That’s prime Content Connecting material. Find out what it is your docs want their patients to know, ask it in the form of a question (“Dr. Smith, how do you manage a ‘skier’s thumb injury’?”), and video-record their answer. Post it on their profile on your physician directory. Post it on the department website. Post it on YouTube! Go get some more. You’re on a roll!

5. Every doctor is frustrated: Tap into that frustration and help save your docs time. For example, every physician has a population they see a lot of, a common diagnosis. For example, depending on the season, an ENT doc might see twelve cases of tonsillitis in a day. They will need to say the same 15-minute spiel twelve times during their day of clinic (three hours?!?). Help your docs save their time (and their voices): go ask them how they manage tonsillitis, video record their response, and include that in your Content! Rinse, repeat. Post them all online as part of your content. Use the links for #6, below.

“Every doctor is an educator…”

6. Spread it around: Be certain that the people who are answering the phones and making patient appointments have a list of those links in front of them. To continue our example: A person calls in to make an appointment for tonsillitis. The response can now be, “Yes, we have you scheduled to see Dr. ENT tomorrow. And please take a look at this video,, before coming in for your visit.”

You just saved Dr. ENT twelve minutes of the same spiel on tonsillitis – that’s twelve minutes that can be invested in a better, more productive patient visit because the patient arrives educated, and “on the same page,” knowing what to expect. Also, the patient arrives having a “relationship” with Dr. ENT, even though they have never actually met. Patients love this! The resulting clinic flow is streamlined, contributing to operational efficiency (the COO loves this), and it contributes to the financial bottom line (the CFO loves this).

7. Share: Post all videos to YouTube. Be sure to include a description that is ripe with keywords in the “About” section. SEO, baby! Your content must be awesome, but it also must be found.

8. Provide many formats: Consider extracting the audio tracks from your videos to post separately to iTunes (it’s free!). We all have our individual preferences for how we like to consume our content. And, there may be folks in your community that you want to reach whose eyesight might not be great. Give them access to your great content in the form of Podcasts. Again, as with your videos on YouTube, include a description on iTunes that is keyword-rich for SEO.

When asked how he persuaded his docs to contribute to their Content Connecting Program at the University of Maryland Medical System, Ed Bennett (Director of Web & Communications Tech) answered: We knew that in order to get our docs involved, we would have to make it as frictionless as possible: do as much as possible for your docs, and include them in the conversation!”




About the author:

Russell Faust, MD, PhD

… is an award-winning physician-scientist, author, and entrepreneur; he is co-founder and CEO of Anicca Media, LLC – Anicca Media consults on, builds, and executes plans to best leverage digital media to build better connected, more responsive, and trusted healthcare brands.

He is advisor and founding expert for several tech- and biotech-start ups, including HealthTap, and FairCareMD; he is also guest Faculty at Oakland University School of Business, Executive MBA in Healthcare Program, where he lectures on branding and social media in healthcare.

Dr Faust is author of the blog,, with over 25,000 unique monthly visitors. He was a founding expert contributor to the medical care site,, and is contributing author to several blogs. Dr Faust is CEO and founding partner at Sacred Herbals.

Dr Faust interprets technology and social media to a variety of audiences through keynotes, blog posts, articles, retreats, and workshops.

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