There has been a phenomenal rise in the way people use and trust review sites, be it for restaurants, gadgets, new launches or doctors. Patients want to make sure their doctors are qualified, skilled and caring. For potential patients, the best way to learn about a new doctor is by reading online reviews.
According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, almost 19 percent of users find third-party review sites useful in selecting a doctor. More than 35 percent of patients had chosen a doctor based on positive online reviews, and nearly 37 percent avoided a medical practitioner because of negative online reviews. The study also revealed that about two-thirds of the users are aware of doctor rating sites, but only 36 percent regularly use them.
Online reputation management for healthcare practitioners
If left unaddressed, negative, fake or defamatory feedback published online about healthcare professionals can have an adverse effect on your reputation. Even a single negative review published online can become overblown and damage your practice and reputation. While you may think there is nothing much you can do about a bad online review, but there is a lot that reputation management can do for you.
Broadly speaking, reputation management is all about influencing and monitoring your practice’s online image. Through reputation management, healthcare professionals can highlight positive information and suppress negative comments. Third-party review sites that rate physicians are easy to find, and they provide a reasonable amount of information service. Websites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, Google My Business and Yelp are where your potential patients are researching your practice. In order to protect and manage your online reputation, you have to track what is being said online about your practice.
Create your online presence
Managing your online reputation starts by claiming your business listings on major online directories and social media networks. These directories and networks allow you to share information that presents your medical practice in the best light. You must make sure to be in control of the official voice of your practice on different public platforms. One of the best things about online directories is that they occupy a lot of search results for your practice name and tend to push negative reviews off the first page of search results.
Update your social media profiles
If you already have social media profiles, you must make sure to update them with new and positive content. Do not forget that these profiles are a reflection on your practice and your reputation. You must ensure they are accurate and show you in a positive light. According to a research firm, regularly asking your customers for positive online reviews is an essential part of any reputation management strategy. Often, patients will not post positive reviews on your website or social media profiles until you ask them to. However, most of your regular patients will be more than happy to post honest reviews of your practice when asked.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Track mentions of your practice
Regardless of how you do it, you must stay on top of what is being said online about your medical practice. To begin with, you can set up a Google Alert for your practice name. If you want to evaluate more options, there is a broad range of online reputation management tools that can not only track mentions of your practice but will also provide reports on the sentiment for your brand online.
Be proactive when responding
There is already lots of advice available on how to respond to negative comments. It is advisable not to respond aggressively, and never accuse a reviewer of being fake. You should take the time to calm down, and respond politely and professionally.
In most cases, responding in a positive manner can result in a favorable outcome. However, if the person writing the negative comments does not seem to change his or her point of view, your well-crafted response will show to others that you care about your patients and that you want them to have a positive experience.
Promoting your practice through an excellent SEO strategy on your practice website, social media profiles, blog and third-party websites can help you mitigate negative comments in two ways. First, your positive and fresh content will show up higher than the negative comments on search engine results. Second, most people understand that no medical practice is perfect. If you have a majority of positive reviews and a few negative ones, your chances of losing a potential patient are much less than if there were no reviews or if negative reviews were the only reviews published.
At the end of the day, tracking and managing your online reputation is being your real self. You just cannot fake being nice to people for long. There are no tricks or shortcuts to make sure you are seen as the best medical practice in the history of mankind. However, by working on your strengths and making an effort to engage your patients, you can certainly stack the odds in your favor.