Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Practice Visibility

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on June 21, 2013

The issue of practice visibility intrigues me because I trained in an era when marketing was a dirty word for physicians. Advertising was not allowed. Word of mouth was the key, which meant that networks developed (often on the golf course) which created referral bubbles. People referred to their friends which often meant that male physicians referred to male physicians and women, in smaller numbers at the time, responded, in kind. Then, drug companies began direct to consumer marketing, the internet appeared, and suddenly, or so it seemed, marketing was not only allowed, but expected. Of course, professionals still refer to their friends, for the good and bad of that, but now, the consumer is more sophisticated and does his own research into his providers. I am excited and pleased with this turn of events, even though, as per my previous post on crowd-sourcing, consumers can write critical comments, often unfounded, and this can tarnish a reputation. On balance, though, the internet has allowed the physician to present herself in a way in which she can beckon those who sense, from their website, blog, tweets, a possible “good fit”. This ‘good fit’ works well for both the physician and the patient. The physician sets expectations before the first contact. The patient has a greater sense of whose office they are walking into. So, yes, Jon, more visibility seems good to me. The more people understand where I am coming from, both in terms of my education and my attitude towards mental health, the better the chances that the person who reaches out to me will benefit from my services. Thanks, Jon, for stimulating this post.

4 Responses to “Practice Visibility”

  1. Jon said

    You are welcome, Shirah. As you know (as is part of your profession), talking to others helps to clarify what is going on in one’s own mind. That said, while this discussion seems to be at the surface about naming and branding, some of the discussion seems to be about services to be rendered. I am under the impression that you primarily offer psychotherapy with an appropriate dose of psychopharmacology. Are you planning on expanding upon these offerings? Are you thinking of adding partners – be they psychiatrists or others? These seem to be some of the issues that are coming up in these discussions. Thoughts?

    • In terms of the tools in my box, I am always interested in expanding my education to include different modalities of treatment. Having said that, I also want to maintain the simplicity of a one-doc shop, so I do not plan on creating a “center” in that sense. Thanks.

  2. Shelly said

    How do you feel about teletherapy? I realize that you feel that you cannot read people unless you are face-to-face, but in reading other blogs of other psychiatrists, they say that sometimes the visual hookups are so good that you can capture the facial expressions, body language and tone as well as if you were in the same room as the patient. In this manner, you would not be limited to simply the traffic in Westwood. You could go national.

    • I think teletherapy, with adults, at least, offers promise. With little children, where physical play is so important, that would be hard. I agree that this represents a very important frontier. Thanks.

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