Showing posts with label Indian doctors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian doctors. Show all posts

Friday, September 19, 2008

Evolution of Healthcare Communications and Public Relations

There was a time, when there were very less no of doctors available to treat patients. But with the growth in economy the number of doctors has increased and the patients numbers has also risen with the rise in new age diseases.
A new attitude among patients has been observed in last couple of years which the doctors never anticipated? The patients now are much more informed. Now, patients do their homework on the aliment they are suffering from, and information technology plays a crucial part in spreading information.

Patients now, are more prone to do a Google on their ailment they are suffering, the best doctor available, advisable treatment and medicines. With the information, patients have become knowledgeable; they now ask the doctor for more information on the ailments, diseases and debate on best possible treatments.

The media for quite sometime observed this trend and launched columns and wellness supplements in there publications. For that matter even TV Channels, Websites, Radio stations have dedicated special shows and sections for the public at large. Most of the issues are related to Health, Wellness, Fitness and diet. Through extensive coverage is given to Health based stories, New technologies in hospitals, successful case studies, Yoga, Wellness columns by eminent doctors, Q & A based columns, etc. These articles often quote expert doctors, and leads to awareness on the doctors expertise.

This phenomenon suddenly gave a boost to Healthcare PR. Healthcare PR professionals often publicize the doctors, treatment and diseases. Well this is for what they are known for. But they also do a lot of other things like
  1. Provide information on wellness
  2. Crisis management of medicines
  3. Information on new diseases and treatments
  4. Creating awareness on existing incorrect policies
  5. Website designing
  6. Doctor's brochure compiling
  7. Promotion of CMEs

There are lots of other aspects where a Healthcare PR professional plays an important part. Healthcare PR professionals have become an intrinsic part in spreading word-of-mouth awareness and pubicing the Doctors Consulting business.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Word-Of-Mouth in Healthcare

The healthcare industry largely depends on word-of-mouth publicity. In fact doctors and hospital for decades have been dependent on word-of-mouth publicity and this has been the best mode of awareness for them. Actually the reason being, ICMR had laid stringent laws pertaining to advertising and publicity carried out by Hospitals, Doctors, Pharma companies, etc. Doctor businesses even today totally dependents on referrals by treated patients and other doctor's. Referral in marketing terms is classified as word-of-mouth publicity.
The fact is by the time doctor establishes their business/consulting they end up spending enough of money and time. This could be the reason we are not able to create a pool of expert/specialist doctors. Once the doctor becomes specialist they leave India for greener pastures abroad, so we again end up with very less specialists for a particular disease.

In US the doctors are allowed to advertise, there are rules laid by American Medical association but not that stringent. In US the doctors can promote their expertise through media; it is mostly informing the general public so they can decide. The doctors then can earn decent reputation and in turn don't have to dependent on referrals.
Healthcare is one of the fastest growing sectors, growing at more than 26%. More and more people are turning towards health and wellness. People are using different medium like internet, newspapers, television to keep them abreast about the latest developments. So why not allow doctors to give information and create awareness on wellness within the general public. What more is a better way to serve society?

Below is a brief on US laws on Advertising by Doctors

Doctors advised on advertisingThe General Medical Council (GMC) has revised its guidance to doctors about advertising their services. The information must be factual and verifiable and must be published in a way that conforms with the law and with the guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority. It must not make claims about the quality of services nor include comparisons with the services provided by colleagues. "It must not, in any way, offer guarantees or cures, nor exploit patients' vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge."
The GMC says that in information about specialist services patients should be advised that they cannot usually be seen or treated by specialists without an appropriate referral, usually from their general practitioner. The same advice should apply to advertisements for services by organisations with which specialists are associated.
The council says that information "must not put pressure on people to use a service, for example, by arousing ill founded fear of future ill health. Similarly, you must not advertise your services by visiting or telephoning prospective patients, either in person or through a deputy."