There are a few famous physicians online who get 90% of the media attention. It’s easy to look at them and presume that they are the only ones who are getting clients because of their online presence. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. These individuals pave the way and open a market niche for the rest of us to step into.
In this post I will talk about building your own medical platform. I know, the word platform is played out but what else can we call on online business? I don’t want to call it an online practice or online clinic because that’s not necessarily the goal.
An online medical platform could one day turn into a telemedicine practice, sure. Or it could feed patients into your brick & mortar practice. It could also be place where you build your expertise in a particular topic and capitalize on it at some time in the future.
The Online Medical Platform
An online medical platform is a website where you’re showcasing your expertise to potential clients. It’s the sexiest resume you can have. It could be B2B model or a DTC model.
You’re giving away all of the information for free in order to brand yourself as the expert in your particular niche:
- postpartum weight gain
- thyroid disorders
- abdominal bloating
Your product or service can be whatever you want it to be. For some of us it’ll be direct patient care. For others it’s live weekly group sessions. And for some it’s selling in-depth tutorials: “How to get off of your insulin”.
The medical platform allows you to build your expertise and then offer up the paid service once you have sealed your reputation.
Don’t get hung up on what kind of website to begin with, whether a blog or forum or a marketplace; WordPress versus Wix. Don’t even worry too much about the domain name, you can change all of that in the future.
Once you have your website, focus on publishing content. Write articles and keep the website “alive”. Don’t worry about email subscribers. Though that’s something you need to address in the long-run because people who like your content are your best potential clients.
It’s important to consider “signage”. You wouldn’t open an auto mechanic shop where nobody can see your shop. In the online space, signage is optimizing your website for search engines; referred to as SEO (link to my podcast episode on this).
If curating a website isn’t your jam, use IG or Twitter or any other social media you fancy. Your presence online is more important than an actual website. A “following” is important as long as it’s legit and not manufactured.
Don’t worry about the number of followers you have. 10,000 followers of whom only 100 are genuinely interested in your products is a shitty conversion rate. 150 followers of whom 140 are going to buy your product is much more impressive.
The first hurdle to overcome is your bias that the direct to consumer (DTC) health market is saturated. People want wealth and health; the more the better. And they are willing to spend a lot of money on both.
The DTC market for health is untapped enough that new products come and go every month. Fad diets, such as the popular Keto, step all over the paleo products of 2007. Celery juice becomes the Pomegranate juice of just 3 years prior.
There is a GI doctor in Germany who is well-known in the online space and focuses on bloating and abdominal distension. Then there is Tamara who killed it with her Bloated Belly Whisperer Book. These are very niche topics but each client is a devoted customer.
There is a Gynecologist who has an online practice where she does weekly group sessions with women to discuss natural fertility treatments. She talks about lifestyle changes and has a ridiculous following.
- Physical therapist
Your health credentials are irrelevant when you’re pursuing your online medical platform. Consumers are looking for experts without an MD, without a DO degree. Not that MDO’s can’t succeed, but the alternative medicine space is filled with non-physicians.
Some patients want help optimizing their medication and they’ll turn to a pharmacist. Others want hypnotherapy or biofeedback for their back pains. Some have severe TMD and look for a dentist who has a custom TMD plan just for them.
And yes, hypnotherapy is done via Skype.
Ideas to Focus in on
I haven’t yet figured out what interests me. I haven’t picked my niche topic on my own online medical platform, MHC. But I have started out broad enough that I can always zoom in on something later. Diabetes seems interesting but not sure what I would want to focus on there – maybe PCOS.
Here are some ideas you could consider. Remember that the medical platform is different from the business model – you can come up with all sorts of ways to turn a fair profit from your expertise. You can sell supplements, offer individual consulting, see patients in your practice or in their home.
- children with bedwetting
- binge eating disorders
- men with ED
- women trying to lose their postpartum weight
- prediabetics trying to prevent diabetes
- cancer survivors wanting to prevent a relapse
- women with hair thinning
- young adults with ingrown toenails
- women with dyspareunia
- chronic neck pain
- opioid addiction
- topical CBD treatment for pain
- chronic flatulence
- gum disease
- bad breath
- sleep apnea
- preventing dementia
Think of anything health related where the patient may have failed conventional care. Or those who don’t want a surgical intervention. And those who want to prevent a disease for which they are at risk for.
Can you imagine how many startup millionaires from MIT might fear getting dementia some day? What they wouldn’t do to try to prevent it.
With cheap in-home cardiac monitors, how many patients could benefit from a custom cardiac rehab program after they are stented or after an MI?
If you’re interested in healthcare but not clinical medicine then you can certainly gear your website towards that. Maybe you’re into machine learning and want to have an authority website on the topic.
If you want to become a Chief Medical Officer some day or get into healthcare consulting then you can make your website all about that.
When potential clients search for a related topic online then they’ll likely stumble on your website. They’ll read what you have to say. Or maybe they’ll see your content referenced on another website. All this adds to your reputation in your space.
Demonstrating Your Expertise
There are 3 stages of demonstrating your expertise:
- Sharing your knowledge
- Contributing to related sites
- Getting referrals
1. Sharing Your Knowledge
You don’t have to be the expert on hair thinning in women, you need to only be the one which the patient is willing to pay for.
Share your knowledge on the topic by writing content on it. Or recording podcasts or videos on the topic. Share case reports. Review current research. Review current consumer devices marketed to patients. Your own website or Instagram or Twitter should be a wealth of knowledge for patients.
2. Contributing to Related Sites
There are numerous consumer websites and even product websites which allow you to contribute content to them. Or you can post comments there. Consider Quora or Reddit.
Consumers are intelligent so it’s important to distinguish noise from real content. “I agree” isn’t the same as:
“The point made here by the author is important to emphasize. [Summarize]. [Add your own tidbit]. And here is a good article which demonstrates this [link to your website where you reviewed the article].
3. Getting Referrals
Physicians like having people to whom they can refer their most difficult patients. Either ask them to do so directly or become the go-to person for such difficult cases.
Timeline to Success
For some, success is how much money they make. For others it might be how many patients they help. And for others it’s notoriety. Whatever success means to you, it takes time to build your online presence.
If you think that there might be even a 25% chance that this is something you want to pursue in the future, start now.
If you don’t want to publish anything online, that’s fine. Start writing your articles on Google Documents and save it for later. Start collecting and writing summaries of new research articles.
It took my website, Medical Health Coach, exactly 5.5 months to gain traction. Now the website and its content is indexed on search engines and it has its own group of clients who are subscribed to it.
The Income Model
I started medicalhealthcoach.com with the intention of being a health coach someday. I didn’t want to remain in a purely clinical role of prescribing medications or ordering tests. It might take another 2-3 years before I know exactly how I want to monetize it. I’m not in any rush.
I could charge patients per consulting session. Or I can create a subscription service where I can interact with these individuals one-on-one. I can even build an affiliate relationship and refer patients to a particular clinic.
Maybe your online medical platform will one day feed referrals into your own brick and mortar clinic. Or maybe you’ll write a book on everything you’ve learned from this information. Maybe you’ll design a products or improve on an existing one. I don’t think it’s necessary to be in a rush and decide that right away.