NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Findings from a recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, one of the two official publications of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS/The Aesthetic Society) demonstrates that patients now find plastic surgeons online, favoring the first-page results from Google, the largest and most popular search engine. The study conducted a Google.com search in the top 25 United States metropolitan areas to identify the top 20 websites of board-certified plastic surgeons. Social media presence was quantified by tracking the number of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for every surgeon, as well as medical school and year of graduation. Through a multivariate logistic regression analysis, it became evident that the total number of social media followers is associated with Google first-page placement, while medical school ranking and years in practice, were not.
"Surprisingly, Google is delivering patients style (online social media presence), over substance (academic pedigree, years of experience, etc.), which is a bit disconcerting," states Dr. Clark F. Schierle, MD, PhD, FACS, an author of the study. "Google's current algorithms are fueling the transition to this new business model, which means that patients believe a first-page ranking on Google is more important than a physician's experience, expertise, and ability," he explains.
The study shows what Schierle and his co-authors have suspected for some time, that the old paradigm of patients finding plastic surgeons through referrals, word-of-mouth, a surgeon's reputation, and academic pedigree is over. Having a strong social media following is what now drives patients into plastic surgeons' offices.
Patients have increasingly been using online resources to make healthcare decisions and have a tendency to trust and value the ratings that providers receive online. As the understanding and use of social media has grown, it has become a natural marketing venue for providers of aesthetic surgery due to its low cost and ability to reach a wide audience. The proliferation of preoperative and postoperative photos, intraoperative videos, and graphic explanations of the procedures offered appeals to many potential patients as evidenced by many of the hugely popular social media accounts belonging to aesthetic surgery providers. "This also raises questions regarding professional etiquette on these social media channels, especially in light of some aesthetic providers' harmful behavior," Schierle explains.
The Aesthetic Society Journal is the official publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. It is published twelve times per year and contains scholarly articles on new advances and procedures pertaining to cosmetic medicine and the plastic surgery industry. ASJ is indexed by MEDLINE/PubMed and with the Clarivate Journal Citation Report (JCR; formerly ISI). It is the official English-language journal of more than 20 major international societies of plastic, aesthetic, and reconstructive surgery representing South America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It is also the official journal of The Rhinoplasty Society, The Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. The Journal offers Continuing Medical Education articles and exams.