As a surgeon, it is a normal part of your day to see blood, bones, and other internal parts of the body. Because the process is so fascinating to you, you might not think twice about including surgical photos and videos on your social media feeds, your website, or your other marketing materials. You see this sort of stuff every day, so it’s not shocking to you.
This surgical photos and videos can certainly be useful in discussions with your peers. You might use this kind of imagery during a presentation with your peers, a face-to-face discussion with a colleague, or in demonstrating results for a medical journal or other publications meant for surgeons.
While your peers may be interested in the visual details of your procedures, your patients may not be. Patients want to know how you can help them, but they don’t necessarily want to see a visual of the entire process from start to finish. It may be true that most of your patients are coming to see you for a surgical procedure like a hip or knee replacement, but that doesn’t mean that they want to know what the procedure looks like.
Sure, you may have a few patients who are equally as interested in the procedure as you are–television shows depicting surgery continue to be popular, and surely the audience is not entirely made up of doctors. But just as many, if not more patients have an aversion to seeing the more graphic elements of a surgical procedure. Posting pictures and videos of your surgical procedures can certainly attract the patients who are interested in the process, but it can also drive away those who don’t care to see it.
It’s not as though those patients do not appreciate the surgical process–they’re just more interested in the end result. They want to see the “after”–not all of the steps in between.
It’s important to keep this in mind when you are creating marketing materials for your patients. If you want to grab their attention, you have to take a step back and see things from their eyes. These patients may have painful conditions that make it difficult to get around, diminishing their quality of life. They see surgery as a means to regain their quality of life, and they want to know what will happen once the surgery is over.
Marketing Imagery to Use Instead
Patients want to know what the outcome of the surgical procedure will be, so keep this in mind when choosing imagery for your marketing materials. Use images that show your patients what their results could look like. This type of imagery can vary based on your practice’s specialties.
If you are a spine or orthopaedic surgeon, try using imagery that depicts the things that patients want to be doing after recovery. If your practice is focused on joint replacements or back surgery, your imagery might include older people participating in activities like golfing, gardening, and going for a walk. These are things that your patients may have had to give up due to pain and disability, and seeing those images gives them the hope that they can one day return to those activities they loved.
On a similar note, if your practice focuses on sports medicine, use lots of imagery of athletes in action. Again, these types of images depict the aspirations of your athletic patients–getting back in the game.
If your practice focuses on podiatry, the imagery you use may be slightly different. Podiatrists often perform surgery on patients to remove bunions or hammertoes. Unlike conditions in the joints and soft tissues, these types of problems are clearly visible when looking at the foot. In these cases, it would be appropriate to use before and after photos. Just be sure to avoid being too graphic in your photos. Don’t include any photos of an open incision or stitched-up wounds. Try to have the “after” photo depict what the foot looks like after it’s healed. Patients are aware that there will be stitches and sutures following surgery. What they’re most interested in is what the foot will look like after healing and how much of an improvement you can provide.
You may find that some patients are interested in seeing photos or videos of surgical procedures. You should have those types of images and videos available for patients who request it, but it may be more appropriate to have them available for viewing in your office. This way, the patients who want to see the surgical procedure can, but those that don’t won’t have to worry about seeing them on your website.