Dr. Henley demonstrates hand anatomy using himself as the model.


Published 9/1/2012
C. Noel Henley, MD

Five Easy Ways to Get Started with Online Video for Your Practice

Getting started is far less intimidating than you think

Just how popular is online video? Consider the following statistics:

  • 84 percent of Internet users in America watch videos online.
  • In January 2012, Americans watched 40 billion videos.
  • One trillion people visited YouTube—the dominant producer of Internet video—in 2011.

It’s not just folks sitting at their home computers who are watching video. Mobile video accounts for 50 percent of all wireless device traffic—and the number of mobile video accounts is projected to increase 25-fold over the next 5 years. Some experts predict that 90 percent of total Internet traffic will be video in the next 10 years.

What’s that got to do with you?
Patients are among the millions of people who spend hours on Facebook every day, and they respond to and are attracted by video. Videos come up in search results when patients type in search terms like “hip replacement” and “sciatica.”

Additionally, patients now expect to see video when they look online for a physician or visit a practice’s or a physician’s website. It creates deeper patient connections and can give potential patients an “inside look” at the practice before they schedule an appointment.

How do you get started?
The easiest—and most expensive—answer is to pay someone to do videos for you. But you can do it yourself and achieve almost identical results.

When deciding what types of videos to produce, focus on these two goals: patient education and practice promotion. Patient education videos provide answers to basic questions asked by patients, outline and illustrate anatomy and procedures, and help make complex concepts clearer. Practice promotion videos introduce you, your office staff, and the services you provide to potential patients.

As more patients search online for solutions to their medical problems, your visibility in the search engines will become an increasingly valuable source of new patients. In general, the wider the distribution pattern for your videos, the more likely it is that patients will find you when they look for the services you provide.

You can post videos in all kinds of online outlets for more exposure. Put them on your website, on YouTube, on your business Facebook page, on Twitter, and in emails you send to patients. I’ve also had great success in using online video during media interviews and for news stories.

Here are five methods you can use to get your feet wet with online video. You won’t have to get in front of the camera or even talk.

Transform print into video
Turning a patient education article into a video presentation is one of the easiest ways to add video to your website. You probably already have the software on your computer, and you can easily find an article to use from your own website or from your specialty association’s site.

Pick one of the top 10 medical problems faced by your patients. Outline a short presentation with seven or eight slides and minimal text. Each video should be a minute or two long.

The latest versions of PowerPoint and Keynote allow you to export your presentations as videos.

Give a screencast tour
A screencast is just a recording of what’s on your screen. Several tools, both free and paid, are available to let you give a tour of your favorite patient education website, including the following:

  • Jing—free software from TechSmith.com that captures anything that you see on your computer screen as an image or short video and lets you share it instantly
  • ScreenFlow for Mac—similar free software for Macintosh computers
  • Camtasia for Windows—another product from TechSmith.com, with versions for both Macs and Windows; a free 30-day trial is available
  • Screenr—a free online tool that records on both Macs and PCs

Simply visit the website (whether your own patient education site, your hospital’s site, or the AAOS site orthoinfo.org) as you’re recording and talk viewers through what you want them to see. Save the screencast as a video file and post a link to it on your website.

Provide a clinical overview
Use one of the screencast tools previously mentioned to present a quick, visual overview of a common clinical condition. For example, you can pull up a radiograph (with patient information deleted, of course) on your computer screen and, using your computer’s built-in microphone, record yourself as you point out distinguishing features of the condition revealed on the radiograph.

Make a practice promotional video
Video slideshows are a quick way to create videos out of still pictures you may already have or can quickly take. And, just as free software is available to enable you to do screencasts, you can tap into free resources to turn your photos into a video slideshow.

One such tool is available at Animoto.com and is both free and easy to use. Just upload your pictures and the online software creates a video. You can link to the video on your website or social media.

Use photos of your building, your logo, your staff, yourself, and relevant clinical pictures such as radiographs or PowerPoint slide screenshots of keywords associated with your practice.

Answer FAQs on YouTube
Creating a series of “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) on a narrow—but popular—clinical topic for YouTube is another way to connect patients with your practice. These are very short (one minute each) videos and can be created using the tools and techniques described in this article.

I created 10 YouTube videos on carpal tunnel syndrome. Each one addresses a single question, such as “Does carpal tunnel come back?” “What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?” “How do I avoid making it worse?” My videos have been highly ranked in regular search engine results, often appearing on the first page.

In summary, online video is a powerful and effective communication tool for connecting with current and potential patients. The technology exists to make it easier than ever to produce videos that educate your patients and promote your orthopaedic practice. If you can surf the Web, upload pictures, and send email, you can get started today.

C. Noel Henley, MD, is a hand and arm surgeon in private practice in Fayetteville, Ark., and founder of the website, www.reachpatients.com

Sample videos from Dr. Henley’s YouTube channel: