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From social media to the doctors office: understand how ophthalmologist Juliana Barbi gets patients from all over Brazil through Instagram. 
November 17, 2023
Fernanda Verardi


Dr. Barbi has produced social media content since 2018. Currently, she invests in TikTok, her own website and in service improvements. These improvements include the acquisition of the Eyer fundus camera.
Oftalmologista Juliana Barbi em seu consultório.

Three out of ten patients that ophthalmologist Juliana Barbi consults in her clinic in Belo Horizonte (MG) come from Instagram. Some of them live in other Brazilian states or even abroad.

“These patients form bonds with me even before the first consultation, because of the content I produce in my profile. They come to the office only to get to know me in person, because they already decided to begin treatment with me. So, the power of identification of Instagram is very strong”, states Barbi.

Doctor Barbi has been investing in producing social media content since 2018. She makes all the content, (script, recording, editing and posting) by herself. 

And no, you do not need to dance performances to lure the right public (but you can, if you want). Barbi talks about medical procedures, shows patients’ “before and after” and shares about her professional – and sometimes personal – routine with her more than 10 thousand followers.

Img Instagram Oftalmologista Juliana Barbi

Ophthalmologist Juliana Barbi’s Instagram. The doctor has been investing in the social network for 5 years.

Doctor Barbi produces content on a daily basis. Usually, “Stories” videos that, many times, have space in her feed as Reels. “I look for dividing one single subject in various short videos to draw the follower’s attention and not to get boring. For example, I can divide a subject as “eyelid surgery” into post-surgery care, stitches, scar, etc.”, she explains.. 

When this article was written (October 5, 2023), she posted a Reel in her feed, showing a patient and demonstrating how a superior and inferior blepharoplasty ends. She shared her part in an interview on her story, a personal reel about wrinkles while smiling, and the recording of the next episode of her videocast “ENTRE(vistas)”, that goes live every other week on her Instagram.

In the videocast, the ophthalmologist invites professionals of healthcare and even other areas related to her work. For example, a tennis teacher highlighted the importance of knowing the dominant eye to make  contact with the ball during a game. And a makeup artist taught tricks to improve the appearance of the eyes. “The idea is to diversify the subjects commonly addressed on my social profile with different topics related to vision in some way”, she explains.

TikTok and website 

Recently, Barbi also signed in to TikTok, a social network to share short videos. A very successful platform, mainly among young people. “They may be my future patients”, she reflects.

In addition to social media, the doctor has a website where she presents her specialties, services and courses (including tips on content creation).

Barbi considers it fundamental to invest in communication technologies to reach good results with medical marketing. A professional profile on Instagram may be the first step. The second one is a website and a TikTok account. “Using websites to target an older audience, instagram to target middle aged patients and even tiktok to reach the youngest audience”, she says. However, she also emphasizes: “People who do not do it, end up falling behind”.

You do not need to be so extroverted as the ophthalmologist to go “viral” in social networks, as some fellow professionals believe, you only need to be yourself. “For the profile to be good, it is essential to be authentic. I do not show anything that I am not. I talk before the camera exactly as I work with my patient in the consultation office”, she states.

New rules for medical marketing 

Recently,  the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) updated the rules for medical marketing. The new text, more aligned to the current needs of communication, including the medical class, affirms that the doctor may share their work on social networks, advertise equipment available in their workplace and, for educational purposes, to use images of patients or photo databases.

The proposal, according to the CFM is to assure the doctor has a right to show people the range of his/her services, respecting the market rules, but preserving medicine as a support activity. The new resolution authorizes advertising consultation prices and making of marketing campaigns.

“Before, I showed only a small part of the procedure and treatment results. Now I can share the ‘before and after’, of course, respecting the patients who authorized sharing their images. It is important for the patient to know better each step of a blepharoplasty, for example”, she explains. 

Patient Journey

Medical marketing is one of the steps of the patient journey. In order to consolidate all investments being made to bring a patient to the office, it is fundamental to offer a great experience.

For example, Barbi searched to improve patient care by acquiring an Eyer handheld fundus camera. The equipment works coupled with a smartphone and carries out high-quality retina exams in a few minutes. Seconds after capturing the image, the device-embedded artificial intelligence, EyerMaps, identifies possible retinal alterations.

Img Oftalmologista Juliana Barbi Retinografo Portatil Eyer

Barbi has used the Eyer handheld fundus camera since 2019.

“I explain what the optical nerve and macula are and, if it is the case, any alteration that may suggest pathologies, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, among other diagnoses primarily reachable through fundoscopy. They think it is great, get impressed with this technology and feel welcome”, she tells.

Eyer is non-mydriatic, offers the patient more comfort and speeds up the clinic service flow. “Nowadays, Eyer is my fundus examination. I do not even use a slit lamp anymore. I carry out the retinography and promptly store the patient’s image in EyerCloud for future follow-up”, she says. EyerCloud is a cloud system synchronized with the Eyer camera to manage patients’ data and exams.

Barbi examines all her patients using Eyer, except for the ones who already have a report. Using Eyer, there have been over one thousand exams since 2019.. “I already identified choroidal nevus from a routine exam in a preoperative of a preventive consultation. I sent it to a retinal specialist for evaluation. He found an extreme-peripheral retinal tear that was properly treated by laser before the surgery. Eyer was able to detect it and I felt safe to send the result to the retinal specialist before proceeding the surgery”, she recalls.

In terms of technology cost-effectiveness, Barbi believes it is worthwhile. “For doctors who serve patients with medical insurance, retinography costs may be sent to the insurance”, she ends.

About Eyer

Img Oftalmologista Juliana Barbi Retinografo Portatil Eyer 2

Barbi holding Eyer handheld fundus camera.

Portability, connectivity and integration with intelligent functions, as EyerMaps, along with a more accessible value, allow Eyer to contribute to increase the access to retina exams.

The equipment supports the diagnosis of more than 50 diseases, such as glaucoma, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, DMRI, retinoblastoma, hypertensive retinopathy and ocular toxoplasmosis. Currently, more than 10 million exams have been already carried out in Brazil, The United States, Chile, Colombia and Japan.

Eyer has recently been approved in the Arab Emirates and is going through the regulatory process for marketing in Mexico, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

About Phelcom

Phelcom Technologies is a Brazilian medtech company headquartered in São Carlos, inland São Paulo. The company’s history began in 2016, when three young researchers – a physicist, an electric engineer and a computing engineer (PHysics, ELectronics, COMputing) – created a handheld fundus camera integrated with an integrated smartphone.

The project of the first prototype was born from the interest of company partner Diego Lencione on visual health, since his brother has a condition that severely compromises his retina and vision and has since childhood.

In 2019, Phelcom launched its first product in the Brazilian market: Eyer handheld fundus camera. Now, the technology has already reached more than two million people all over Brazil and the countries where it’s available.

In four years, the company has already taken part in more than 100 social actions and has recently been elected one of the 10 most innovative companies in Brazil by Forbes.

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