As technology has evolved, so has society’s expectations and curiosity. Knowledge has never been so readily available, and we witness it every day in healthcare with patients presenting after consulting Dr. Google. Unfortunately, a lot of the information online is strongly biased and not rooted in scientific evidence. Even worse, a lot of the time, the individuals sharing knowledge have little to no expertise in the topic they are “educating” the online community.
This prompted my initial motivation to start an online presence educating individuals currently in and/or interested in beginning with orthodontic treatment. I wanted to provide content that was relevant, educational and most importantly, accurate. We have such an engaging population of patients but often do not have the time chairside to explain everything nor do we expect our patients to care about our mechanics. Interestingly, however, many patients are not only curious about their treatment but eager to learn more about orthodontics all together. After all, I would argue that many of us were drawn to become orthodontists after our own orthodontic treatment.
Therefore, during my residency, I began a YouTube channel, “Braces Explained,” where I did just that. I coupled my passion for teaching, videography and orthodontics to create educational content outlining the intricacies of orthodontic treatment. My goals were two-fold: to fill this online niche for patients’ desiring to learn more about orthodontics and to educate the public on the complexities and considerations that go into orthodontic tooth movement. Since its inception, the channel has accrued over 65,000 subscribers, 7,000,000 views and gains roughly 15,000 views a day.
In an attempt to release one video per week, I typically film at nights and edit before work, while responding to comments during my free time throughout the day and on weekends. It is definitely a time commitment, but it has provided me with a very unique vantage point from the patient’s/potential patient’s perspective. The viewers’ comments have shed light on concerns that patients have but are often too timid to broach during the consultation, including clearly defining his/her chief complaints. I personally feel that I can more appropriately address common concerns among patients after seeing the comments of viewers on the channel. When people in consultation or new patients find out about the channel, they seem to be intrigued and more interested in beginning with treatment because they feel as though they can connect with me more.
Now more than ever, with the burgeoning of do-it-yourself orthodontics, direct to consumer products and even “providers” bonding cases in garages, it is critical to connect with and educate the public so that they can make informed decisions regarding their healthcare. By showing patients how much thought goes into even a relatively simple case, we can raise awareness as to why a patient should see an orthodontist for their orthodontic needs.
Further, as we’ve evolved technologically, so has the concept of how a potential patient discovers his/her future orthodontist and converts. In just the past few decades we’ve evolved past the era of simply putting your business out there via mediums such as the newspaper, yellow pages, and online ads. The Millennial and Gen Z consumers require more than you just being a professional; they want to support and work with individuals who are transparent, trustworthy, and believe in the same ideals as they do. A recent study by the Fashion Institute of Technology reported that nearly 50% of Millennial consumers are more likely to support products/companies that are recommended by those they know and that are receptive to feedback/change. My point is that patients seek a provider who they can trust. It should come as no surprise that we are seeing such a surge in influencer marketing, which taps directly into this mindset.
So how do we adapt? It is time that we connect with our future audience via both online platforms and internal marketing. With regard to social media, I believe it is critical to remain professional yet transparent. We are all trained to perform excellent orthodontics, indeed, but now is not the time to give up on marketing but to double down our efforts in order to provide exemplary care and customer service to our patients. I encourage you to reflect on your own or meet with your team to discuss the type of niche or presence you desire to create online. Evaluate whether you are more comfortable providing educational content or sharing personal experiences/lifestyles and use this to brainstorm ways you can create content to share on social media. While there are a number of excellent educational sources on TikTok and Instagram, I personally am more comfortable filming long form content on YouTube.
No matter the platform you use, or the content you create and share, I encourage everyone to begin creating an online presence. By doing so, while continuing to create an amazing patient experience for internal referrals, you too can establish trust of a future consult and patient before they even walk into your office.
Dr. Greg Asatrian is a practicing orthodontist, diplomat of the American Board of Orthodontists and YouTube content creator. He is a four-time UCLA graduate (bachelors, doctorate, masters and orthodontic residency), where he served as chief resident. Moreover, he is an inductee of Omicron Kappa Upsilon national dental honor society, has presented on over 100 occasions domestically and internationally and has over 35 publications in peer-reviewed journals / book chapters. Regarding social media presence, he has founded and consistently creates content on his successful YouTube channel, Braces Explained, which has amassed over 75,000 subscribers and 8.0M views. He loves teaching and has combined his passion for dentistry and content creation to educate his peers, mentees and the public at large.
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