How Should Physicians Deal With the Storm of Online Rating Websites?

How Should Physicians Deal With the Storm of Online Rating Websites?

The shift toward online health information consumption has resulted in the proliferation of physician rating websites, and the Internet has augmented the pace at which health-related content is generated. Today, the decision about selecting a physician is likely to be made by going through the reviews on online rating websites like Yelp.com, Vitals.com, Healthgrades.com and so on.

With this revolution in the patient decision-making process, it’s become imperative for physicians to manage their digital footprint. In the world of business, reputation is everything. But the big question is: How should physicians deal with these rating websites to build a positive online reputation? The following four steps will help you gain some insight.

Step 1: Monitor your reviews and ratings constantly
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 written about your practice, you won’t be in a position to repair your reputation once any harm has been done. The first and most important step in dealing with rating websites is to have your own profile on the major sites so that patients can go to your profile for posting a review. This will help you monitor your ratings in an informed manner.

Step 2: Recognize negative trends
The trend of posting reviews on doctor rating sites is growing at a very fast pace. Patients post anonymous comments about physicians and their experiences with them. While positive views can help build a positive online reputation, negative ones can knock it down. So it’s imperative for physicians to maintain a fair perspective of their practice and to deal with any negative trends.

Step 3: Respond aptly and swiftly
When it comes to social media, whatever is being said about you carries a huge impact. As a practitioner, you have no control over what patients write about you, but you can definitely control your responses to their reviews. In the endeavor to safeguard your reputation, you should be “proactive” rather than “reactive.” Industry experts in online reputation management suggest that physicians should solicit positive reviews and leverage them to counter negative ones. You can request your patients to write reviews about your practice if they are happy with their treatment and health services rendered to them.

Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.

While handling negative online reviews, physicians should be cautious about protecting patient confidentiality and privacy. Dealing with these cynical reviews and feedback optimistically will serve a better purpose in building a positive reputation. While responding to them, physicians should focus on fostering honest and open communication with patients. This will help build a positive physician-patient relationship and may reduce negative reviews.

Step 4: Take lessons from reviews
Remember that you can learn and improve in any situation. Physicians should have a positive approach while reviewing any complaints and use them as building blocks to improve patient experience and satisfaction. Some common online complaints related 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-up and bedside manner.

Physicians should appropriately reflect on the feedback and consider it as objectively as possible. Taking measured steps to deal with these reviews can help you optimize performance and quality and deliver better care for patients.

The trend of the changing physician-patient relationship due to rating websites is here to stay! The sooner you embrace it, the better it will serve you to maintain a positive online reputation. Seen in the right light, this can be extremely helpful for a physician to improve patient experience and satisfaction.

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