Who owns your professional reputation? For physiotherapists and podiatrists, it's a question that goes beyond usual tasks like perfecting clinical skills, completing professional development requirements, and providing quality treatment. In fact, unless you actively promote and advertise to your ideal patient base, as well as to influencers (e.g. general practitioners (GPs), home care co-ordinators, etc.) who can send people through your doors, you've conceded it to others.
In this article, I outline the role of personal branding in your professional reputation. In particular, we explain how owning a personal website and customized domain name permits you to market yourself as a valued health professional.
What is Your Situation Today?
Perhaps like many allied health professionals in Australia, you work within a traditional clinic setting. As a health employee, you leave marketing considerations to clinic administration and their outside consultants. Typically, this means that your profile is displayed on the clinic website (if they have one) without your personal input. Patients looking for specific practitioners must navigate through a clinic's team page. First-time navigators may – or may not – see you.
Arguably, it is the clinic that owns your professional reputation - not you.
Breaking Out of Your Professional Anonymity.
Don't get me wrong – it's important to have an active profile on the clinic website. However, you should seriously consider creating an independent website where you can publish your professional profile information, and possibly an informative health blog. Otherwise, you’re missing an excellent personal branding opportunity.
More importantly, taking charge of your personal brand leaves you less vulnerable to drastic changes to your work life, i.e.:
• What happens if you leave your current employer?
• What happens if you decide to start your own business (e.g. walk-in clinic or mobile
• What happens if the clinic owner decides to change your website profile?
We expand on these issues below.
Potential Conflict of Interest Issues.
a) Restraint of Trade (Non-Competition).
It is common practice for physiotherapists and podiatrists in Australia and elsewhere to have a restraint of trade, or non-compete clause in their employee agreements. This means that after leaving a clinic or deciding to open a business, you're excluded from directly contacting current patients for a specific time period. A professional website can be quickly updated when you leave a clinic to display the new location of employment. Patients searching your personal name will quickly find your new location, not the clinics website.
b) Employer's Revenge.
Newly independent practitioners often race to create new profiles and/or websites without realizing that getting decent search engine rankings takes time. Visibility on Google, Yahoo!, Bing etc. does not immediately happen after creating a website. As a result, your former employer maintains a measure of control over your practice, and may even use underhanded tactics like telling patients you’ve moved away or are on sick leave. All to ensure that patients book with the clinic's other practitioners instead of you.
On the other hand, if you already own a personal website and domain, your name will already be ranked as a valid keyword. Location updates are simple, and since you are already visible online, it's much easier for patients to find your new location.
The Dot Physio Strategy.
Recently, one of my former employees took advantage of domain name liberalisation to purchase a personalised “dot physio” name. As an experienced, high-level physiotherapist with solid business knowledge, she was perfectly positioned to take advantage of this great personal branding tactic. Rosemary consults with many physiotherapy clinic. I feel she knew the value of her professional reputation very early. If you control the flow of patients, you have the power.
The domain names can be purchased here:
Isn't Website Management Annoying?
Even if you are a technophobe, managing your personal physio website doesn't have to be a tedious, onerous chore. It is very easy to create websites with reputable services that offer 'drag and drop' editing. Attractive templates are available, and no previous programming knowledge is required.
I previously used Weebly, but many people like WordPress. Both come with blog editors so you can keep your content and design current.
Owning your professional brand is a business necessity, especially in the growing home visit (mobile) physiotherapy and podiatry fields. “Freelancer” physiotherapists and podiatrists in particular have no choice but to overcome apathy, complacency and cynicism to meet the demands of twenty-first century healthcare. While loving the physiotherapy industry, I acknowledge that it can be extremely cutthroat, and the reality is that competition will only increase in the future.
As more practitioners transition from traditional clinic settings to mobile care, purchasing business IP addresses now and building up independent website profiles will become more important than ever.How to book an appointment?