What 3 months in a Performance Agency has taught me as a Junior Doctor

Masarat Jilani / January 15, 2021

Three months ago, I took the plunge and started working at performance.io as an SEO copywriter. But why would a Junior Doctor want to branch out into healthcare marketing? It all came from a worrying trend I was noticing, where patients would come in and say: “I know I shouldn’t have…but I Googled my symptoms”. This would then unleash confusion and even admissions of dangerous behaviour based on risky advice. From applying bleach to the genital area, to avoiding crucial medication based on Whatsapp rumours, questionable health information on the internet can ruin lives.

At the same time, the internet is full evidence-based information and expert advice from professionals. Yet, so many patients fail to access this, partially because the top ranking pages on Google do not rank based on reliability, but on how optimised their content is for search engines. There are companies, individuals and groups trying to spread questionable content, and if that questionable content is search engine optimised then it can rank highly – and often does. There is a tsunami of health misinformation, as we can clearly see with the spread of conspiracy theories in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though I was trying my best to tackle pseudoscience and misinformation on social media, it wasn’t enough. With each clinic appointment and every dodgy news headline, I grew more and more frustrated. Then I realised: I had to do something. I theorised that by working with the right marketing agency, I could ensure that evidence-based medical information was not only search engine optimised, but also correct. Determined to fight medical misinformation, I joined performance.io. I reasoned that through this work, I could help ensure that evidence-based healthcare information could succeed in SEO results, and thus rank highly on search engines like Google. But I needed to know that the agency was ethical and experts in SEO. Thankfully, performance.io was perfect for this — it is no ordinary performance agency! From the first interview, I was blown away by the company values and expertise, which I now know are emulated in the day-to-day. Three months later, let me tell you what a ride it has been…

As a Doctor, there is nothing more satisfying than actually making a difference in the lives of my patients. And while educating each patient who comes through the door shows immediate results, it has limited reach. But through medical writing, I have been given the ability to not just help one person, but amplify the benefit and reach hundreds or thousands of people. In short, writing can save lives. That’s why it is so important to make sure that all information provided is clear, factual and easily accessible on Google! From writing about treatments for COVID-19, to providing credible information on the COVID-19 vaccine for patients living with obesity, this work can provide life-saving information.

What’s more, working completely remotely with the performance.io team has demonstrated that remote team working can definitely make the dream work. Though I have not yet met my team in person, I’ve actually gotten to know them better than my NHS team, who I have been working with face to face! This is because doctors rotate around jobs so it’s often a lot harder to get integrated into a medical team; and with the hectic nature of the everyday, there is often no time for a breather to get to know the people you are working with well.

But, although agency work is also very hectic, at performance.io there is a concerted effort to make time for the team. Being here really does feel like being part of a family. I’ve enjoyed virtual coffee meetings, Christmas quizzes and Slack chit-chat. A particular highlight was when Matt, our amazing CEO, made time to go through the company values with me 1:1. Often the company values just seem like an afterthought in some of the NHS Trusts I have worked with, but at performance.io they are clearly enshrined in our daily work.

The biggest highlight of working at performance.io is how it has made me a better Doctor. Since so much of the writing work has been topical, such as regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, treatments and vaccination, this has allowed me to keep up-to-date with the latest research whilst writing SEO articles. In turn, this means that I am able to educate my patients on these topics with greater confidence and granularity. I’ve also reinforced my written and verbal communication skills, so I am able to connect with patients better and help them understand how to take control of their own health, for their well-being.

The core of marketing is not only getting a message out to a target audience, but getting them to act on that message. Marketing can get a negative reputation when people feel they are being manipulated for sales, but that’s why the best Doctors and the best marketers have to follow strict ethical guidelines. When used correctly, both a Doctor and a marketing expert can empower people to make smart decisions about their health. Working in healthcare marketing has given me the skills to help my patients make the best decisions for themselves.

My first three months in healthcare marketing have truly opened my eyes to the impact that can be made in making high-quality information rank highly in Google for both patients’ and Doctors’ and benefits. It’s also been such a fun experience working with a motivated, friendly team in achieving this important goal. I can’t wait to see what new skills I will gain that allow me to not only become a better writer, but also a better Doctor! Whatever happens, I am sure my future at performance.io will allow me to continue my mission of tackling medical misinformation and empowering patients.

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