Online Reputation Management for Doctors: What Goes Into It?Posted: August 25, 2022 - By Health Dev
Online reputation management is a service that combines the attributes of public relations, marketing, and customer service to help professionals grow their business while maintaining a positive online presence. Online reputation management for doctors is a niche domain targeted toward medical professionals to assist you in making a great first impression on new patients and monitoring what regular patients have to say about you.
The doctor-patient relationship is an intricate one, and patients can be wary of placing their trust in a new doctor. Finding the right medical practice has become a bit like online shopping in modern times. People generally rely on online ratings and positive reviews to make a suitable choice. So, having the best online reputation management can be vital to the success of your practice.
To give you a better idea of what this involves, here are some of the factors you need to take into account while managing your reputation online.
7 Elements of Online Reputation Management Doctors Have to Consider
Providing high-quality service is every medical practitioner’s first priority. But in the internet age, this may not be enough to grow your practice. Healthcare online reputation management plays an increasingly important role in providing desirable options to patients seeking medical assistance.
1. Positive and Negative Reviews
In a 2020 survey, 71% of patients said they first turn to online reviews when they look for a doctor. More than 40% of respondents said they’d even go outside of their insurance network to see a physician with positive reviews. This shows the importance of patient reviews and online feedback.
Timely acknowledgment of good reviews can strengthen your bond with your existing patients, increasing their trust in you. Meanwhile, promptly addressing bad reviews and negative comments in an appropriate manner can mitigate any damage to your reputation. The best strategy is to keep in mind that every patient is a potential reviewer.
2. Online Review Sites
Most people rely on Google reviews while looking for new physicians. Other sources for online searches include directories like WebMD, Bing, and Yelp. Such directories are considered legitimate sources and are likely to be ranked higher than your website by search engines.
For better visibility, you need to create profiles on as many online review sites as possible, especially since patients can check multiple resources before settling on a doctor. Ensure that your contact information and working hours are consistent, accurate, and updated across all sites. This will help potential patients to easily find and get in touch with you.
3. Comprehensive Online Presence
Reviews aren’t the only way to make your online presence felt. You could build your website or even start a blog to engage patients and boost your credibility. Other ways to enhance your online presence include:
- Hosting a podcast
- Responding to questions about your specialty on forums such as Quora
- Posting promotional content and video testimonials on YouTube
- Using learning platforms or social networks to share relevant medical updates
4. Google My Business Listing
Another critical component to building your online presence is your Google business listing. This involves creating a Google business profile so that you can be included at the top of search results pages whenever patients search for medical practices in their area.
Google provides a map to the exact location for the top three search results, so getting your business listed there can be a great advantage in attracting new patients. You can also set up Google alerts so that you receive notifications whenever you’re mentioned online.
5. Social Media Profiles
Frequent networking can help you build a strong community and develop patient loyalty. Social media profiles are quickly becoming a surefire way to boost the popularity of your medical practice.
But simply creating multiple social media profiles may not give you the desired results. You want to make an effort to post regularly and respond to comments and questions from your followers. Your timely intervention may also prevent arguments from breaking out on your timeline, helping you sidestep any controversies.
Maintain separate personal and professional social media accounts. Don’t use your personal accounts to promote your practice, and don’t post personal information or opinions on your professional accounts.
6. Organic Search Traffic
When looking up doctor reviews or searching for medical practitioners online, most people are unlikely to go past the first page of the search results. So, you want to make sure your business is listed at the top of the page. This can involve pushing down negative reviews and implementing search engine optimization strategies like the use of focus keywords in all your online content.
7. Personal Recommendations
Patient testimonials are the word of mouth of the digital age. People seeking healthcare are also more likely to believe the words of those who have previously experienced or are still dealing with the same conditions as them. But patients may refuse to visit a referred physician who has a poor online presence.
To circumvent this, you may want to get yourself listed as a top local medical provider on a trusted site. There are many such strategies to tackle reputation management online.
How to Take a Proactive Approach to Reputation Management
All of this may seem like a lot of additional work, especially considering the busy schedules of doctors. To help simplify the process, here are some action steps to get you started.
Monitor Patient Reviews as They Come in
Active monitoring is one of the most effective ways to take charge of your reputation online. Through Google alerts, you can keep track of all the reviews you receive and respond promptly. You can thank the patients who leave you positive reviews, which will make them feel noticed and appreciated.
You can also appropriately respond to comments from dissatisfied patients to keep matters from escalating. This will help minimize any negative impact on your online presence. A proactive stance toward reputation management and patient interaction will make you seem attentive and approachable to patients.
Encourage Satisfied Patients to Fill Out Reviews
Human nature is such that unhappy people are more likely to complain. Patients who are satisfied with your services may express their gratitude in person or over the phone but are unlikely to make the effort to leave a positive review online. This may result in a disproportionate number of negative reviews.
To mitigate this discrepancy where the online feedback doesn’t match the patients’ actual feelings toward you, encourage happy patients to leave you a good review. Another way to skew the balance in your favor is to ask all your patients to take a survey regarding your services. Then you can request the ones who respond positively to rate you online.
The number and timeline of reviews can also be deciding factors for patients looking to switch physicians. If you have just a few reviews — or too many old ones — it can put people off from opting for your practice. You shouldn’t hesitate to regularly ask patients who are happy with your service to leave reviews.
Finally, avoid paid or incentivized reviews, as most directories have a system to carefully scrutinize all users and will flag such accounts. A single misstep could discredit you and undo all your hard work in building a positive online reputation.
Consider Investing in Tools to Help Build and Maintain Your Reputation
Most patients are relatively tech-savvy these days and expect a certain level of engagement from their medical practitioners. With the advent of tools such as telemedicine, physicians can interact with patients remotely and involve them in the decision-making process. This can help strengthen and promote transparency in the doctor-patient relationship, leading to fewer chances for miscommunication.
Digital tools can be used to schedule appointments online, send reminders via emails or text messages, and collect patient feedback. This may seem like an added expense at the beginning, but such tools can save time and money in the long run. They can also assist in the smooth and effortless functioning of your practice while minimizing manual errors.
Understand That Online Reputation Begins With a Great Patient Experience
One of the most vital reputation management activities for doctors is to maintain excellent customer service etiquette. Belated explanations won’t likely satisfy an unhappy patient who was confused by poor communication from your medical personnel or treated rudely by the front desk staff.
Your online reputation should be a reflection of your actual image in patients’ eyes. To maximize patient satisfaction, all your employees should be personable, well trained, and competent. Keeping your facility clean and professional-looking is important too.
Finally, make an extra effort to minimize patient wait times, scheduling conflicts, and appointment cancellations, as these can be major triggers for bad reviews and affect patient retention.
How a Negative Online Reputation Can Impact Your Medical Clinic or Practice
It can be quite challenging to build and maintain a good reputation for your practice. So much time and collective effort go into ensuring that all patients have a great experience, but all it takes is a few low ratings to tarnish this hard-earned reputation. While this might seem incredibly unfair, it may also be viewed as a learning opportunity for your practice.
A negative review can highlight the gaps in your patient management services and help you make some constructive changes. If you do make such changes, remember to notify all your patients regarding the process improvements. This will boost the positive reputation of your practice as a friendly place that’s amenable to feedback.
A poor rating can impact new referrals and patient retention, as people may not bother reading reviews if the overall rating is low. This can adversely affect your ranking on search engines, leading to a poor first impression. All of this can even hurt your revenue in the long term.
This doesn’t mean that things can’t be changed. Successfully navigating negative patient reviews could alter the viewpoints of the person who left the feedback as well as the other readers who passively follow the conversation.
Ignoring negative reviews can lend them credibility or make you appear indifferent to patient concerns, but be careful when responding to unflattering reviews. A Washington Post article described instances where doctors’ responses risked violating HIPAA compliance rules regarding patient privacy.
Take some time while formulating a response — and don’t get emotional. Ask for a second opinion or delegate the task if you don’t have the time. A rushed or highly defensive response will only complicate the matter and may lead to additional criticism. Address the issue privately if warranted.
Reviews are read not just by prospective patients but also by other healthcare providers, especially competitors. Staying on top of things could be the key to maintaining your standing in the medical community.
Invest in Online Reputation Management Services Today
Good medical knowledge and skills combined with high-quality care are no longer sufficient to attract and retain patients. Constant online reputation management is essential to running a successful medical practice.
In a world where online presence is equivalent to a virtual identity, a good online reputation can place you a step ahead of your competitors and win the confidence of your patients. This requires active monitoring of what the internet is saying about you, which can be quite time-consuming.
Online reputation management can be a double-edged sword, as every action taken online is recorded for posterity. Considerable thought needs to be given to every word said online so that you always put your best foot forward.
Online reputation management is hardly as simple as countering negative reviews and low ratings. A comprehensive online presence involves updating multiple social media accounts, optimizing your content for maximizing hits on search engines, and regularly posting fresh information across various platforms.