More and more people are now turning to the Internet to make their health decisions. These changing scenarios have transformed the economics of the healthcare industry. Gone are the days when people used phone books or “word-of-mouth” referrals to locate a medical practitioner. Instead, they thoroughly analyze their options on various social media platforms and physician review sites.
Digital DNA now governs reputations in healthcare
In this era of digitalization, conversations and opinions travel at the click of a mouse. Patients today are tech-savvy consumers who write reviews about their experiences after using healthcare services. If the experience is great, a patient will post positive reviews. But in the field of healthcare, it’s very rare to deliver 100% patient satisfaction, and one negative view can severely damage your online reputation. Also, if there are biased or incorrect views expressed on these sites, they could negatively harm your practice. If you don’t have any idea of what is being said and written about your practice, you won’t be in a position to repair your reputation once any harm has been done.
According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the trend of using online reviews and ratings to select physicians is growing rapidly. More and more people now prefer to refer to these websites before making the decision to visit a physician. Results of the survey show that 40% of patients think physician ratings on websites are “somewhat important” and of those who used the web to search for a physician, 35% selected a doctor based on good ratings. In addition, 27% of these web users reported avoiding a provider with bad ratings.
As a physician, you’ll have to devise a strategy to identify, monitor and influence your digital reputation and credibility. So how can you deal with rating websites to build a positive online reputation? Read below for a three-step guide for dealing with online reviews:
Step 1: Discover
The foremost step in reputation management is to Google and figure out what is being said about you. The search results will provide a general view of your reputation and how you are perceived in the digital world. Once you navigate through the ranking pages, it will give a clear picture of your online reputation. Set up an email alert using some specific keywords like your name, hospital’s name, your specialization etc., so that you stay updated whenever someone posts about you.
Moving forward, you should evaluate some of the top physician review websites like yelp.com, vitals.com, healthgrades.com and social media channels (like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). A thorough analysis will help you identify what patients are saying about you.
Step 2: Recover
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Maintain an active online presence
Even if you are not active on the Internet, your reputation is. 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.
Be “proactive” not “reactive” for negative reviews
The magnitude of impact these reviews have on customers is huge and can affect the overall success rating for any physician. Physicians need to realize the inevitable fact that there will always be some negative or critical reviews written about you. Dealing with the reviews optimistically opens up the lines of communication between the physician and the patients. Don’t fear a professional online interaction and figure out the “right way” to fight with negative online reviews.
Whenever there is any review/feedback, reply instantaneously. Active social engagement is a positive sign of building a good online reputation. You can flag negative reviews by signing up on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. You’ll get an email each time someone writes a negative review. Address the comment publicly so that others can see that you are taking the issues and complaints seriously.
Step 3: Transform
Physicians should take a positive approach while responding to these reviews and use them as building steps to improve the patient experience and satisfaction. Some of the common online complaints relate to issues like staff friendliness, availability of appointments, ease of scheduling, punctuality, attentiveness, listening skills of the physician, explanation of medical care/treatment, office cleanliness, lab services, follow-ups and bedside manner. Physicians can enhance the patient experience by taking appropriate steps to resolve these complaints.