I know the internet hasn’t been around for forever, but it definitely feels like it sometimes. I do know that my knowledge of computers has basically grown up with the internet in existence, so I’ve really never had one without the other. From basic email, to chat rooms and games, to blogging and the beginnings of social media as we now know it to exist, and doing research for papers and projects, I’ve spent a good size chunk of my life online whether for entertainment or out of necessity.
It seems to be a little strange, then, how many business still don’t have a website. Not even a ‘good’ website, just something that comes up when I type in your name and location into a search engine. I know I’m being biased, but when it comes to giving my business to someone, if I can’t learn anything about you online (even just on Facebook) I have a hard time finding a reason to give you my money over someone who does the most basic work.
Now I know there are LOTS of small businesses that don’t quite have the time or resources to put themselves out there, or simply just don’t know how. The thing that really baffles me is all the medical practices and professionals who aren’t on the internet. Their profession relies heavily on technology, so it’s not like they’re oblivious to computers. How do they hope to differentiate themselves from their competition? I understand that a website really says nothing about the quality of care provided, but it still opens the door to building a relationship. If I can see your face, look up your office hours, see a picture of your facility… it all helps. To me, it also makes a statement about how much they value growing their business. Quite frankly, I’m not particularly interested in patronizing a doctor who doesn’t push themselves and their business forward.
So I go on my insurance provider’s website. I type in the kind of doctor I’m looking for. And then I start Googling. Usually every single name that comes up in my results. And then, depending on my success, I start asking friends and family for referrals. Why do I as for referrals last? Mostly because I see a lot of apathy. I want to really love my doctors. I’m trusting them to help me manage the health of this one body that needs to last. For the most part I see people who don’t particularly like (or dislike) their doctor. It’s the fact that shopping around can be such a pain.
Now I’m starting to search for a doctor for my baby. I will admit, this one time I did as for referrals first, because for some reason, people treat the healthcare of their children differently than their own. It’s something parent’s fight for, and get second and third opinions for. And still, I rely on the internet.
I’d like to say I don’t make snap judgments based on what I find online, but that’s a lie. It is a first impression, and honestly, usually a good one if I can find something that wasn’t published by a healthcare rating service. I don’t know if this makes me a better or worse mother, or just a new one.