Imagine that after an extremely busy day, you find some time to search yourself on the Internet. Though the purpose was to gain an insight about your practice reputation on the Internet, to your horror you discover some anonymous comments posted on a review website:
“The office staff of Doctor X is rude and the office seems filthy”
“The doctor wrote me a prescription but didn’t answer my concerns well”
“I never received a follow-up on my tests”
Why is it important to maintain an online reputation?
The Internet has manifested itself in the medical world, as well. Before visiting a doctor for the first time, patients now conduct a thorough analysis of a physician’s online reputation. These days, the practice of delivering good healthcare service is like any other business where services define the growth of business.
Over the past decade, there has been a revolution in the physician-patient relationship. From purely a trust-based association, it has now turned into a commercial one. It’s no longer a surprising fact that patients go online to express their opinions about healthcare providers (HCPs). Service quality reporting in healthcare is a new trend, and information about patient experiences is available on the various social media platforms, blogs and review sites.
An ancient proverb says, “Reputation travels faster than the man himself.” For a physician this is even more crucial, because a doctor’s greatest strength is his reputation. Physicians spend their entire professional lives establishing and safeguarding it, but in this era of digitalization, a single review, blog, Facebook post or tweet is sufficient to knock it down.
These six methods will be helpful in preventing harm and protecting your online reputation:
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Don’t be ignorant about your online reputation
Juggling time, practice and hectic work priorities can no longer serve as a valid reason for any physician to be a passive observer of his or her online reputation. Like it or not, being aware of what is being said about you online is the main prism through which your reputation will be viewed. When it comes to the world of social media, it is people’s word that carries the greatest weight.
Create and constantly update your website
While searching about your practice by name, a website is something that all patients will definitely visit. A customer-friendly website is the first step toward building a positive online presence. Make sure that your website is updated with all the vital details about your practice such as phone, address, hours, email, etc. A physician photo is also recommended. Ideally it should be a headshot taken by a professional photographer as it creates a strong first impression. Also include a listing of your credentials and experience.
Create and monitor your profile on physician-rating websites
The physician rating websites such as HealthGrades, RateMyMD, etc. are gaining popularity at an alarming rate. Create your profile on the major rating websites so that you are aware of what is being said about you on these platforms. Patients post reviews, opinions and feedback on these sites – often anonymously – on various criteria like the physician’s punctuality, knowledge, bedside manner and even staff friendliness. Even if you are not active on the Internet, your reputation is. The effect these reviews have on customers is tremendous and can affect the overall success rating for any physician.
Don’t deal negatively with negative reviews
Physicians need to realize the inevitable fact that not all patients will be fully satisfied with their consultation. There will always be some negative or critical reviews or opinions written about you. Though physicians have their hands tied by law (e.g., per HIPAA law, physicians cannot publically disclose an individual’s health condition), they can still respond to reviews in a balanced way. Taking negative reviews in a constructive way to improve the practice should be the standard. Dealing with these reviews optimistically opens up the lines of communication between the physician and patients. Don’t fear a professional online interaction, and figure out the “right way” to fight negative online reviews.
Constantly monitor your online reputation
If you are in the dark about what is being written and said about your practice, it can gradually turn your reputation toward a negative trend. Make it a point to check your profile regularly. If you are busy with your practice, you can deploy a staff member to monitor it on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Don’t expect instantaneous results while working to improve your online reputation
One common perception of physicians when they begin to work on their online reputation is that they will see immediate results – an increase in patients visiting their practice, positive reviews about their practice, referrals, etc. Understand that building or reshaping an online reputation takes time. Persistent efforts should be made and as you make the correct responses to posts on the Internet, it will restructure your online reputation.
When it comes to your online reputation in today’s digital era, ignorance is not bliss! Patients are empowered by the Internet and make informed decisions before selecting a physician. In order to market your practice well, it is mandatory for a physician to have a strong online presence and more importantly, a positive online reputation. Your practice represents your brand, so build your brand equity by building a positive online reputation.