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Marta Peral Ribeiro

Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –

The presence of the healthcare professional in digital

Regulation, security, and privacy issues make Marketing and Health almost incompatible. However, the past year made us face health with new eyes and, like other sectors, health also had to adapt quickly to digital – and, with it, many of its professionals.

Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –

The presence of the healthcare professional in digital

Regulation, security, and privacy issues make Marketing and Health almost incompatible. However, the past year made us face health with new eyes and, like other sectors, health also had to adapt quickly to digital – and, with it, many of its professionals.

The Internet as a meeting point for health professionals and patients

Video call consultations, research on disease symptoms and the search for health-promoting techniques are just some of the increasingly recurrent actions today.

Although with many restrictions, health professionals can position themselves through digital means to gain more visibility, promote their clinical institution (or vice versa) and thus consolidate their reputation and attract more patients.

In addition to the possibility of differentiation, the investment in online healthcare marketing allows to capture leads, increase the conversion rate (from users to patients) and gain their loyalty.

In doing so, consumers are also gaining, because they can access information more objectively about healthcare, symptoms, treatments offered and of course, about doctors and other professionals in the area.

Precautions to Be Taken – The Limitations of Health Marketing

By dealing directly with the health of consumers, health communication presents risks.

There are several Infarmed rules, among other relevant entities, that healthcare professionals have to follow when they undertake digital marketing.

Priority in communication should always be given to health and not to the doctor.

How to build an effective online presence?

1. Define the communication strategy

As with any other business, it all starts with the elaboration of a strategic plan – bearing in mind, however, that Health marketing is a long-term project.

The communication strategy must be rigorously considered so that, on the one hand, it fits into the legal spectrum and, on the other hand, creates a connection with the user/patient.

In the plan, principles identical to those of the creation of a brand should be included, such as: the definition of the Tone of Voice (which must be somewhere between competent and empathetic), the persona and the channels of communication where it wants to be.

Subsequently, a re-evaluation of the strategy should be made every 3months, given that the interaction of users also varies over time.

Metrics of marketing actions

When a strategy is already implemented and the goal is to improve it, you must first analyze the existing data:

  • What are the organic results of marketing actions?
  • What is the return of communication actions (ROI)?
  • What is the conversion rate (how many contacts convert to queries)?
  • What is the user’s length of stay on the website/blog?

In addition to this analysis provide an overview of strategy efficiency, you can also give clues about other parameters, such as:

  • If your audience corresponds to the persona initially defined
  • What is the degree of involvement of users in networks
  • What is the level of patient satisfaction in the evaluations given on social networks (reviews)
  • Whether it is convenient to implement new features to digital platforms to improve the user experience
  • If the tone of voice is consistent across all channels

2. SEO-optimized site

Local search optimization

If the name or contact of the doctor or clinic appears on the website in one way and on the social networks in another, the results of the search will also vary:

resultados de pesquisas

Therefore, the information (name, location, contacts) should be consistent in the different media, to appear at the top of search results.

Chatbot for patient convenience

The site should be prepared for an immediate interaction with the user through chat, and also allow online scheduling of queries.

It is also convenient that accessibility-related features are also active, so that visually, hearing or motor impaired users can easily navigate the website.


A blog, in addition to providing useful information to users who research certain topics, can raise the degree of credibility in relation to the health professional or clinical institution.

After all, when the content adds value, the health professional has the opportunity to be recognized as a reference in the area.

In addition, unlike the content presented on social networks, which tend to be short and based on images, the blog has the advantage of allowing the development of a given theme.

The articles of the blog should be written with high rigor, be informative and have an empathetic tone, to transmit confidence to the patient.

3. Presence on social networks

Equally demanding in terms of medical rigor, the presence in these channels allows, however, to explore a more innovative side and translate health concepts into a simpler language. In essence, social networks allow a more personal interaction with the patient.

Informative content

The focus should be on the useful information: what are the symptoms of a disease, what health care should be had, what is a particular medical specialty, what are the side effects of a treatment or a medicine.

As an example, the publication below explains succinctly what melatonin is and its relationship to sleep:

página do facebook

Professional images

Consumers feel more confident when they know the faces of the healthcare professionals and their workplace.

On this Instagram page, the clinic features the professionals who work in it. In addition to revealing their professional experience and the facilities where they work, it reveals a little of their personal life, enriching the narrative.

página do facebook

This approach attributes an emotional component that brings physicians and users (storytelling) closer to it if the presentation is made in the first person.


Through creative images, infographics usually have an educational purpose and   allow the transformation of complex ideas into simplified information:

Infographics are also a good resource for circumventing some censorship policies on social networks, particularly when there is exposure of certain parts of the body.

Facebook can block a post that talks about breast cancer by having a nipple, for example.

carilion clinic


An image alone can tell a story through its composition, as it immediately creates familiarity – especially  when it includes a human element (whether a person or a physical aspect of it).

In this example, represented by a doctor who looks the user in the eye while showing herself on the smartphone screen, the message is clear: “Your doctor is available and just a click away”:

médica a segurar o telemovel

To encourage donations to build a new hospital, a health-related foundation shows a doctor who has already contributed to the campaign. In addition to emphasizing the professional, the poster appeals to ones feelings:

doctor donor

Humor, whenever possible

The best way to deal with potentially embarrassing issues is by breaking the ice.

Topics such as oversweating, bad breath, caries, urinary incontinence, among others, need a dose of mood to communicate with patients.

A hair treatment clinic was able to apply this principle when addressing hair loss, a common problem in men, under the motto “Hair loss is reversible”:

imagem hair loss

Another example in which intelligent humor was used, bypassing one of the restrictions of healthcare marketing on the images that show the “before” and the “after” of the treatments, shows a pedestrian crossing before and after works, symbolizing the improvement of the teeth after orthodontic treatment:


4. Email marketing

Email is one of the most valuable tools to communicate with consumers and retain them, because it is a direct contact. It allows you to exchange information about queries, send satisfaction questionnaires and send content as newsletters.

Because it is precious, the email should be used with care, in order to provide information relevant to the user, and instead of overloading it with emails of commercial content that will eventually make you lose interest.

5. Partnerships and the Media

Another way for a health professional to reiterate his authority in the specialty in which he works is through alliances with other influential people or appearing in other media (Television, Radio, newspapers, etc.).

In an Australian newspaper, a psychiatrist informally explained mental illness from the famous character Joker, who suffers from psychosis, in an opinion piece:


Quando existe uma colaboração importante, é fundamental aproveitar, mais uma vez, as redes sociais como meio de a comunicar, o que vai trazer mais relevância:

destaque nos media

página facebook

6. Paid advertising

Sponsored ads are something that works right away, to increase patient conversion rate.

Features like Google Ads or Facebook Ads are effective because they allow you to target your audience across your age group, geographic location, interests, and habits.

In turn, should they maintain integrity, the same content can be used on other digital platforms of the same.


Digital can never replace face-to-face interaction with a healthcare professional, but it is a great channel for doctors and other therapists to highlight their work.

However, care in the dissemination of a business linked to medicine is demanding, because it interferes in people’s health and is under a set of ethical rules. Still, with a carefully thought-out strategy, investment can generate new patients and retain others.

An efficient digital presence is undoubtedly capable of consolidating a good professional reputation and attract the target audience, for whom the content provided is an asset.