The opportunity now exists to present positive, accurate information about chiropractic care to those with health challenges at the exact moment they are in need of care.
According to recent research by the non-profit Pew Internet & American Life Project, seventy-nine percent of Internet users have searched online for information on at least one major health topic. That translates to about 95 million American adults using the Internet to find health information or about 9 to 10 million Americans on any given day.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project’s previous research found that online health seekers are often motivated to search out information that relates to actions they might need to take for specific health issues in their lives. For instance, they (or people they love) might have experienced health symptoms that worry them and Internet users search for information about whether they would be wise to visit a doctor. Or, they might have just received a diagnosis and want to learn more about their particular condition.
In many cases, online health seekers are action-oriented and highly purposeful because there is a pressing medical issue for them to address. Since it is highly likely that the issue they face may have nerve system involvement, how likely is it that the Internet user will find accurate, positive information on chiropractic that will encourage them to see a chiropractor? The answer to this question could have a far greater impact on the future of chiropractic than one might expect. In order to understand why, we must look at what Internet users are doing online. The Pew Internet & American Life Project’s research found the top five activities of Internet users searching for health information are as follows:
- Tentatively diagnose their own diseases
- Confirm their doctor’s diagnosis and suggested treatments
- Check their doctors’ credentials
- Research all available treatment options – not just those recommended by doctor
- Give themselves a crash course on a specific medical condition when they (or someone they love) is diagnosed
Clearly these activities indicate a course of action is being formulated. This is precisely the time when accurate, positive information on chiropractic care can have the greatest impact. The Internet provides, for the first time in history, the ability to reach those in need of care at the exact moment they are deciding the form that care should take. So, how well is the chiropractic profession currently represented on the Internet to take advantage of this opportunity? You can see for yourself. Using Google, the world’s leading search engine, perform a search on the term “chiropractor”. What you find should cause you great concern.
As of 6/15/2009 , a Google search on the term “chiropractor” returns a a somewhat less than flattering Wikipedia entry as the number one result. A Bureau of Labor Statistics overview of “a career as a chiropractor” is the number two result and the third result is a condemnation of the profession titled “My Visit to a Straight Chiropractor” by Stephen Barrett MD on his website, Chirobase.com, which is dedicated to disparaging chiropractic. The fourth result is an article on the Spine Universe site that states that chiropractic is “a popular pain treatment”. And the remaining results are not much more encouraging. There is nothing presented that will inform a consumer with a specific health challenge how they may benefit from chiropractic care.
You may be wondering how this affects you. Maybe you don’t have a website and don’t concern yourself with Internet search habits. You rely on tried and true methods of new patient acquisition like personally delivered health talks and referrals from satisfied patients. This situation impacts you as much as the chiropractor that has spent thousands of dollars building and marketing his/her own web site.
Google, which handles 72% of all search traffic according to SearchEngineWatch.com, had 168,100 searches conducted on the term “chiropractor” in May, 2009. That means 168,100 Internet users were exposed to Stephen Barrett’s anti-chiropractic sentiments in May, 2009 alone.
How many of these Internet users were potential new patients referred by a loyal practice member or attendees at your most recent health talk who decided to do a little research prior to scheduling an appointment? How many of your patients have suggested that their spouse schedule an appointment, only to have them go to Google, become sucked in by the anti-chiropractic rhetoric and become forever poisoned to the idea of chiropractic care? They may even take their new found “knowledge” and talk your patient out of returning for their next visit. No one can say how many patients you have lost to the current Google situation, but it is safe to say you are not immune.
We know, however, from the Pew Research and Google keyword statistics, that the vast majority of the 9-10 million daily web surfers are not searching on the terms chiropractor or chiropractic (as they have no idea that their nerve system may be a factor in the health challenges they face). We also know that the majority of these Internet health seekers begin their quest for information at a search engine (72% using Google) and that they search on the symptom, diagnosis or condition from which they or their loved ones are suffering.
So what if an Internet user has just been told by a physician that they suffer from fibromyalgia? We know that four of the top five activities most frequently performed by Internet users seeking health information relate to a particular symptom, condition or diagnosis. A Google search on this term ( a condition, symptom or diagnosis) returns exactly zero results that mention chiropractic care as an option. Surely since many chiropractors see patients with “back pain” there will be many results from a search of this term which provide accurate, positive information about chiropractic. Think again. Not in the first 198 results displayed. The ACA website appears at 199 as of this writing. And guess what is among the first 100 results: Quackwatch.com by Stephen Barrett.
Term after term, condition after condition the results are the same. Except for an occasional sponsored link, there is no mention of chiropractic in the search results for any of the myriad conditions for which chiropractic has been proven safe and effective.
So what can be done to correct this and to take advantage of the opportunity described in the beginning of this article? Our consumer oriented site at www.YourSpine.com, provides positive, accurate information about chiropractic and lays the foundation on which to build a much brighter future for the chiropractic profession. We provide valuable patient education material on specific conditions for which chiropractic is most effective. We use detailed graphics and animations to educate Internet health seekers on spinal anatomy and the composition and function of the skeletal and nervous systems. We demonstrate how spinal fitness greatly impacts overall health and quality of life. We explain the many degenerative diseases associated with neglect of the spine, the drugs and surgeries used to treat them, along with their sometimes disastrous side effects. And most importantly, we demonstrate the important role chiropractors play in finding and correcting subluxations.
We provide content designed to be “found” by the major search engines when an Internet user searches for information on chiropractic as well as specific symptoms, diagnosis and conditions. We combine this with search engine optimization techniques and use paid search engine advertising to drive those in need of care to the site at the exact moment they are in need of care, deciding what form that care should take and who will provide it.
Presenting chiropractic in a positive way to online health seekers who are action-oriented and highly purposeful because they have a pressing medical issue to address dramatically increases both awareness and utilization. With this repository of valuable consumer information available and easily found by Internet health seekers, we drive people to the site rather than sit passively and wait for them to come. We utilize a world class public relations firm to facilitate national exposure throughout all news outlets: Internet, television, newspapers and magazines. These very same public relations firms have successfully turned lackluster drugs into household names. In the future, with this strong foundation in place, we plan to run cutting edge television and print ads that reinforce the message. This is a three tiered approach, utilizing advanced Internet technology, world class public relations and creative advertising.
With the food, beverage, diet and drug industries all promoting health compromising products to consumers through national promotional strategies, you cannot be expected to compete for consumer attention on your own. You need and deserve help. By coming together and taking advantage of an initiative like the one described here, you become a force, a force that is an attractive partner to national non-profit and corporate sponsors trying to reach the same key demographic, those actively seeking to improve their health. This opens the door to co-sponsored national events, public relations exposure, increased credibility and greater cultural authority. You may not be able to outspend them, but with radical strategies and an aggressive agenda, you can certainly out-think them. Imagine proper care and maintenance of the spine being as important to the health care consumer as the care and maintenance of their teeth. Have you tried to make a same day dental appointment recently? Better yet, don’t imagine. Make it a reality.
To make your practice part of the growing network of Chiropractic America certified chiropractors and to secure your exclusive zip code allocation in this groundbreaking opportunity, visit: Doctors.YourSpine.com to sign on today!