Last night I attended a talk on trust between a panel of founders and designers from the startup websites AirBnB, Getaround, Facebook, Lyft and Postmates. Each one of these companies offer a product or service that require a large level of trust from users, like renting your house or car to a stranger online. Needless to say, these companies have spent extensive amounts of time working to gain confidence from their customers, some going as far as working to pass legislation to make their service safer.
Establishing trust from customers is an obstacle in many industries, Physical Therapy included. Attending a therapy session is a fairly intimate act, both physically and mentally for patients. Bedside manner, of course, plays a crucial roll in making a client feel comfortable. However, another important part of the equation is the patient’s trust in a PT’s ability to help heal them.
Trust and reputation play an increasingly important role in today’s digital economy. When a patient is referred to you, it is very likely they will do a quick Google search to learn more. What will they found about you? Perhaps this potential patient will look at your or your clinic’s Yelp reviews. All of the companies mentioned above spent time talking about rating systems they had put into place to gain credibility. For example, a Lyft driver (Lyft is a ride sharing service) rated 5 stars will be considered more trustworthy than one with 3 stars. However, due to the subjective nature of rating systems (you and I may have totally different ideas of what “excellent” service entails) the panelists suggested rating systems can only go so far.
What rating systems lack is a human element; a way for people to get to know the person behind a digital name. A four star rating and a review on Yelp gives some information, but is limited to that reviewer’s unique experience. It doesn’t paint a full picture of who you are as a PT. This is why we stress blogging so much in our tips for online brand management. Blogging is the best way to establish yourself as a though leader and share your voice. I have been lucky enough to meet some of the bloggers nominated in our PT Blog Awards, but after reading their posts regularly, I felt like I had already known them for awhile before actually meeting them in person. I would certainly be more open to seeing them for treatment after reading their thoughts and opinions and knowing if they aligned with mine.
As the healthcare industry moves more and more online, this doesn’t mean that trust is lost, in fact it can actually be used to your advantage. Whether it be creating videos on YouTube to literally show who you are or engaging with patients on Facebook, what ways can you use social media to gain trust and build relationships with patients, employers or colleagues?