Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
All healthcare providers – physicians, dentists and physiotherapists – should ponder this quote for a minute. As digitalization has invaded the healthcare cocoon, online reputation matters more than ever. The present scenarios are such that any physician’s brand and reputation survives or vanishes by what is said by others on social media, blog sites and physician-review websites.
Needless to say, you’ll have to devise a strategy to identify, monitor and influence your digital reputation and credibility. The trust and confidence of your patients have a profound effect on your reputation. These days, patients are digitally empowered and have the option of freely expressing their views on any product/service they pay for, healthcare being no exception. They can anonymously review/rate your practice and healthcare services on various platforms on the Internet. This implies, whether you are aware about your online reputation or not, it can be tarnished from any corner of the world and that, too, within seconds. All those years of hard work and medical excellence wouldn’t be enough to fill up the appointments at your practice if patients are writing bad reviews about you. Looking at these statistics, you’ll be even more convinced that an online reputation is imperative for the good health of your practice:
- According to a study by Google Think, prior to booking an appointment, around 77 percent of patients used search, 50 percent used health information sites and 26 percent used consumer-generated reviews.
- A recent study published in JAMA states, “One-third of consumers in the United States who consulted physician website ratings reported selecting and/or avoiding physicians because of these ratings.”
Managing and monitoring your online reputation is, therefore, imperative to surviving in the competitive healthcare market. Whatever is said about you can travel like wildfire online. Failing to proactively handle your online reputation could be fatal. By following a few simple rules, you can exert a bit more control over what is being said about you online:
By reaching out to healthcare consumers through social media, physicians can create impactful communication channels that can drive patient decisions in their favor. Participating in digital conversations through blogs, tweets, informative articles and so on can directly impact online brand perception and reputation. Connecting with healthcare consumers means letting patients know that you are willing and able to care for them. Your positive online presence does make an impact on your digital reputation, the main prism through which patients see you.
Ensure accuracy and transparency of information
Make sure that any information you provide on the Internet is unbiased, scientifically correct and provides value addition to the readers. Also, all communications should be professional, ethical and transparent as this helps establish trust and credibility.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Be proactive and responsive
Proactively responding to all reviews/comments in a professional and ethical manner creates a sense of trust about your practice. For interaction with online patients and others, create professional profiles on major social media platforms and physician-review websites. It’s important to have a well-designed responsive website, as well.
Build good, interactive, informative content that people can read and share on social media. Interact with people and help them by answering their general health questions. This helps develop a positive rapport.
Establish service excellence and a feeling of trust
Keep your word no matter what in terms of providing services, attending patient appointments and keeping promises to patients. This will help solidify and build credibility in real time, which may manifest in positive reviews on the Internet.
Resolve errors and learn from mistakes
Take lessons from feedback/suggestions and use them as building blocks to improve your services. Accept and apologize wherever you feel there was a lack on your part in providing services to patients. An annoyed patient can become your ally if you make an effort to resolve grievances as quickly as possible.
A physician’s online reputation is very fragile, so it must be managed meticulously. In this era of patient-powered health, physicians can no longer choose to be silent spectators. Online reputation is as important as it is in real life, so they must make calculated efforts to protect and build their online reputation.