Physicians and healthcare providers are often caught off-guard by online reputation issues. For physicians, their reputation defines the success of practice. With change in scenarios, it’s the need of the hour to strategize and deal with negative online reviews and wherever possible turn them to be positive.
“I give my best efforts for treating patients and looking after their health needs, then why are people saying bad things about me on the Internet?” Does this question hover around in your mind every time you see a bad/false/biased comment or review about your practice on the Internet? What do you do about it? Probably just become upset for a few hours and then let the bad feeling fade away by thinking that there isn’t anything you can do about it.
In the field of healthcare, chances are very rare that you’ll be able to provide 100% patient satisfaction. There will always be some patient or other who won’t be satisfied. Social media and physician-review websites provide an easy outlet for those who are miffed about for petty reasons, and they use these channels as an outburst for their anger and resentment. Unfortunately, these negative/false reviews do not do any harm to the people posting them, but they cause havoc to your online reputation. People consider these reviews to form their perception about a particular physician and accordingly make up their mind about booking an appointment. Dealing with these negative reviews is very essential because if left to themselves, they can jeopardize your online reputation.
How can physicians deal with the negative reviews on rating websites to build a positive online reputation? Read below to gain some insight.
What do the stats say?
Per Pew Internet
- 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
- Another 13% say they began at a site that specializes in health information, like WebMD.
- The most commonly researched topics are specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals.
- 80% of Internet users search for health information, and 1/5th of their searches are about a specific provider.
“How a physician or hospital responds to negative comments and complaints can carry equal or more weight than positive consumer engagement,” according to a PwC report.
Google Inc. quotes in its official blog that businesses can reduce the visibility of negative content about them by “proactively publishing useful, positive information.”
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Dealing with the negative reviews
Identify the negative trends
To be proactive about your online reputation is the key that will give you insight into the patient mind-set. Once you know what is being said about you and on which platform, you will be in a better position to uplift your reputation. In today’s world, the tech-savvy healthcare consumers write reviews about their experiences after visiting a physician. If the experience is great, it can be good for your practice if the patients post positive reviews. But even one negative, biased or incorrect view expressed on these sites view can severely damage your online reputation.
Learn to deal with reviews
A negative or a bad review may carry a lot of weight as it can be seen by many others searching about your practice, but it’s not the end of the world. As a healthcare provider, you can’t really control what patients write about you, but you can definitely control your responses to their reviews. Address the negative reviews and always show a willingness to provide solutions for the problems faced by patients. You can begin by thanking the patient for posting the review and mentioning that the patient’s concern is of utmost importance to you. Apologize for the inconvenience caused and offer to take the conversation to an alternate platform, such as phone or email, to explain the situation. Just remember the golden rule, be “proactive” rather than “reactive.”
While dealing with reviews, always remember to abide by the HIPAA regulations and don’t disclose any details about the patient information publically. Never counteract or over-react while communicating with the patients as your response is visible to thousands of others. Whatever might have been the reason to post a negative comment, many times people just want to be heard. By responding appropriately to the reviews, feedback or complaints, you can gain the confidence of patients and other potential patients who are reading the reviews.
As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Owing to the increasing competitiveness of the healthcare market, it is imperative for physicians to maintain a positive online reputation. Dealing with reviews is an indispensible component of the reputation management strategy.