Online Reputation Management for Doctors
As with the 21st century we’ve forayed into the world of all things digital, it has enabled people across the globe to be connected. This means that the internet can play the role of a loudspeaker. Whatever one posts publicly can be seen and heard all over the world. So if say, someone really likes a particular experience, they might talk about it and create buzz, but at the same time if someone dislikes an experience they might be even more vocal about it and create a wildfire for the service provider. It’s necessary to tread carefully when it comes to ‘reviews’.
In the case of doctor reviews or reviews for the healthcare providers left by their patients, it becomes a bit more trickier to handle them.
One might ask, under what circumstances does a doctor need to worry about patient reviews?.It’s important to know that like every other service, reviews have an impact on healthcare practices too. In fact, around 84% of potential patients look up a doctor online and do their necessary research before deciding on them. So even before the patient walks into your practice they know a lot about you.
90% of potential patients say that the reviews that they see online about the doctors, affect their decision making. So suffice it to say, that it is essential that doctors pay attention to what their patients are saying about them.
Managing one’s online presence, including the online reviews comes under the umbrella of ‘Reputation Management’. Reputation management for doctors is absolutely necessary in recent times.
What is Reputation Management for doctors and why do you need it?
Reputation management for doctors and physicians refers to the management, monitoring and influencing of their online presence through various online means. This is used to influence public perception and opinion about the doctor, physician or dentist.
When does a doctor need reputation management? The obvious answer to that is always. But there can be different methods to tackle reputation management for doctors depending upon the underlying need. Some instances include –
- dealing with too many negative medical reviews
- involved in embarrassing public incidents
- receiving negative press coverage
- recovering from a malpractice lawsuit
One might need professional help to come out of these situations without causing much damage.
Let’s look at how one might deal with negative reviews online.
Dealing with negative reviews
A simple way to start would be to assess your current situation. This will help you establish the path you need to take to deal with the reviews. You can start by doing a simple google search about you or your practice. This can be followed by understanding and monitoring review sites such as healthgrades, Yelp, ZocDocs, WebMD, RateMDs, Google reviews, Angies List Etc. This will help you understand where you stand in regards to your online reputation.
Now that you have identified the places where you need to work, you can begin the reputation management process.
It’s important to be proactive with reputation management when dealing with negative reviews. One should always stay on top of the reviews. One way to do that is by setting up alerts. You can set google alerts for everytime someone leaves a review. You can also set up alerts for specific keywords.
Letting negative reviews to sit for a long time without being responded to can turn catastrophic. So it’s imperative that you respond to them as soon as possible. Goes without saying that how you reply to the negative review will also reflect on you. So one needs to make sure that they reply meticulously.
Things to keep in mind while replying to a particularly difficult review –
- Stay objective – Do not let your emotions get the best of you. It’s normal to feel upset about a negative comment, but it’s important that you do not lash out. How objectively you respond to a negative review sets a precedent about your practice’s credibility. Try and understand the patient’s point of view and respond accordingly.
- Respond ASAP – About 20 % Patients expect that you respond to their reviews within one day. Responding to the reviews establishes that you care about your patients and that you desire to provide better services. It will also help you in your SEO, according to google.
- Respect the patient’s privacy – It’s very important to keep in mind, not to reveal any personal information about the patient while responding to reviews. Your response should be in line with the HIPAA guidelines. According to these guidelines, one shouldn’t even acknowledge that the patient was in the clinic. Of course, any information about the patient’s illness or injury should not be disclosed at any cost.
Other ways to build a strong online presence
Reputation management for doctors can be achieved in multiple ways. One way, as we discussed above, is dealing with negative reviews. Other methods include –
- Focus on building content – It’s no news that creating content will boost your SEO. You can focus on content by creating a dedicated blog for your patients or guest blogging on other established websites. Writing blogs will help you demonstrate your expertise and establish you as an expert in your online community. It will also help you to drive more traffic to your website.When you write guest blogs you are creating more backlinks to your website, which helps in improving SEO.As you are an expert in your field, the content quality of your blog would also be high. This will play to your benefit as google rewards good quality content. As you build up good quality content, it opens up avenues for people to approach you for interviews and expert opinions. This again adds to your reputation.
- Claim your ‘ Google My Business ’ listing – Google my Business is a free service provided by google that allows you to claim your business online. When people search for you, information about your practice will be displayed. It helps in the local SEO. One has to make sure that when patients search for practices in their local area, their practice is accurately displayed with all the relevant information.
- Train your staff – Make sure that your staff is adequately trained in how to make the healthcare process smooth for the patients. When patients leave a review they tend to include details of their entire experience. This means that everything from the first call to your practice to the final appointment experience, everything is under scrutiny. Each conversation with the patient has to be handled professionally and in an amicable manner. Make sure you train your staff in appropriate behaviour when interacting with the patients. This will help improve the patient experience.
- Respond to all the reviews – Negative and Positive, respond to all the reviews. It is a good practice that will also help you improve SEO. When you respond make sure you appreciate the patients for their feedback or issue an apology if their experience with you has been bad. Again, make sure that in both the cases, no private information about the patient is revealed. Responding to reviews establishes that you value your patients opinion and that you care about providing them with a good experience.
- Request Reviews – If you don’t have enough reviews, it might be because you are not asking for them. Mostly patients are okay with leaving reviews. You can ask your patients to leave reviews for you. 6/10 would happily leave a positive review when asked to do so. You can use review generation tools such as one provided by Emitrr, that can send review requests to patients across multiple channels.
Reputation management for doctors is not an easy game. But with the right plan of action and a structured process one can easily build up their reputation online and establish their credibility. Increased reviews, blog content and guest appearances will go a long way and solidify your online image.