Kristy Theis is Communications and Content Director at DoctorLogic. DoctorLogic is an Intelligent Internet marketing company that specializes in custom designed, responsive websites. The PULSE digital marketing platform, built specifically for the medical industry, combines websites, mobile, search, and social into a single platform engineered to dominate the Internet.


One of the most powerful Internet marketing tools a cosmetic surgeon can have for their website is an effective before and after gallery. In fact, DoctorLogic's research into the effectiveness of galleries shows that they are one of the single most searched items a prospective patient will look at during the exploratory phase. Analytics prove that 42 percent of page views are in the gallery pages alone, more than double that of the homepage.

MAKING YOUR GALLERY RELATABLE

These gallery page statistics shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, the Internet is a dynamic and visual medium. Surgeons that take full advantage of their gallery pages by displaying photos that show quality work and positive outcomes ultimately increase the chance that an individual will research them further and schedule a consultation.

It starts by giving the visitors to your website something they can relate to.

Prospective patients want to feel assured from your gallery that you can help them with their particular case. They want to be able to easily find patients that look like them, have the same conditions or concerns that they do, and ones that received the same procedures, products, and techniques that they are considering. They want to be able to imagine themselves in your patients' photos and they want to be able to consider all of the options.

Research shows Google loves in-depth gallery information just as much as patients do. Consider the analogy of researching cars online, or buying a new appliance on a retail site such as Amazon.

These sites have power behind their galleries. They let users select the characteristics of a product they think are important, things such as model name, make, size and color. A before and after gallery on a surgeon's site should act the same way. If you are a small, petite woman who desires breast implants that will take you from an A-cup to a C-cup, you want to see someone like you. Likewise, if you are a mom who has had four children and has a C-section scar and desires a mommy makeover, you want to have an idea of what you will look like after surgery. Patients want to see results that are relevant to them.

WORKING WITHIN LEGAL CONSTRAINTS

But how does one create a deep, rich patient gallery with both photos and general demographic information without potentially identifying a patient all the while staying within HIPAA's guidelines?

While most surgeons agree that the gallery is a critical component to their practice's website, many are hesitant to produce one with these components because of the rules and regulations surrounding patient privacy laws. Even though these laws are designed to protect patients from being identified and there are some limitations, it's in a surgeon's best interest to maximize this area within the boundaries of the law.

It starts by making sure your patients are fully aware that their photos and generic demographic information will be used in a professional and appropriate manner online. Patients need to feel comfortable with this idea and give their written consent.

But many doctors audited showed not to have a formal, legal consent form and process in place.

We conducted a broad audit to see how legally compliant medical practices were regarding the medical information they show on their websites. The results showed significant concerns around most practices' photo release forms, and the majority of the practices surveyed did not have a business associate agreement with their current website vendor. Additionally, every website surveyed failed to automatically strip potentially identifiable patient information such as their file names and (exif) data. This is extremely disconcerting because without these safeguards, neither the patient nor the practice is fully protected.

THE NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT: USEFUL GALLERY TIPS

Recently, at the Aesthetic Meeting in San Francisco, members of our DoctorLogic team had the opportunity to meet with plastic and cosmetic surgeons from around the country to discuss website marketing. In those private sessions, questions regarding how to build better galleries dominated the discussion by close to 80 percent. For an effective gallery, we compiled the following tips as a result of these meetings so that you can take your before and after gallery to the next level:

  1. Make sure your patients sign a photo gallery release form that complies with HIPAA and modern state and national privacy laws. It should allow you to post not just photos, but generic demographic case details as well.

  2. Take quality photos with consistent angles, views, ratios and backgrounds.

  3. Use your gallery like a blog to show and tell the patient's story. Write clear titles and useful descriptions that are distinct to the patient, yet could be very relevant and relatable to a visitor and to Google on that page.

  4. Make certain that all images are stripped of file names and (exif) data. File names frequently contain a patients' name or initials or even their social security number. This data can include identifiable pieces to the puzzle like where and when the photo was taken, who took the photo, and an arbitrary description of the photo.

  5. Use your best photos, but use a variety! Don't use photos just for the sake of having a larger gallery. Select the photos that show your best outcomes and surgical results. Include a variety of patients and vary them by age, race, body type, procedure type, etc.

  6. Ensure your gallery looks great on all devices. This includes a mobile phone. Visitors do not want to wait 5 minutes for a photo to download on their phone. Images should be scaled so that they download fast and effectively on any device.

  7. Use a website provider that uses website software that makes it easy for prospective patients to find a grouping of galleries most relevant to them.

  8. Add diverse and new gallery entries often. As a result, you'll broaden the number of ways searchers on Google will find you, which in turn, will show Google your site is a valuable resource for consumers.

  9. Use a provider that continually strives to reduce your legal risk.

MAKE DECISION-MAKING EASIER

A potential patient has many factors to weigh when considering cosmetic surgery. Surgeons can help make the decision-making process easier by providing them with a before and after gallery that is precise and meaningful.