A 2020 survey conducted by Software Advice found that 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate a physician or healthcare provider. It also found that 71% searched online reviews as the first step in choosing a new doctor.
What’s more: eight of ten people check online reviews before setting an appointment with a physician.
As it turns out, anyone managing a private practice benefit from medical online reputation management. This reduces the risk of losing patients or clients due to bad online reviews, which the public can find easily.
And, this work is best left to experts who track your reputation, monitor review sites and mitigate misinformation online.
There are two main reasons for online reputation management. These include 1) self-defense and 2) online marketing.
1. Medical Online Reputation Management for Self-Defense
Overall, medical online reputation management is largely a self-defense tactic. This is due to the consequences of not managing an online reputation, including:
- A diminished career
- Negative investor reaction
- Negative impacts on key stakeholders
- Increased difficulty maintaining a positive profile
- Loss of potential new patients
- Reduction of referrals from other physicians
But no matter the reputation issue, it won’t go away when ignored. Not taking action usually means an already bad situation will likely get worse.
So, the best way to reduce permanent damage and save your reputation is through a proactive approach.
Actively managing your online reputation helps prevent damage before it happens. This is because removing negative information online takes time. In fact, some reputations become so damaged they can’t be saved.
Don’t wait until it’s too late.
To get things under control, respond fast and effectively to potential crises, such as:
- An embarrassing public incident.
- Widespread negative media coverage.
- Online court records (i.e. malpractice lawsuit)
- An unflattering or fake review
2. Medical Online Reputation Management as a Marketing Tool
Medical online reputation management can be a useful marketing tool. Because nearly everyone refers to online reviews and Google when researching providers, a sincere effort to manage your reputation can help:
- Improve job search and career advancement potential
- Frame your practice as “one of the best”
- Improve your standing with the media
- Protect your relationships with stakeholders
- Maintain a positive perception among patients, staff and industry leaders
It is counterintuitive to think a negative review or online complaint might actually be beneficial. But the truth is it depends on your approach.
No one expects you to be perfect. In fact, building a “perfect” online reputation is not the goal. What is more effective is an effective response strategy – how you, the healthcare provider, deals with adversity whenever it strikes.
Responding to an “irate” customer can be a fantastic opportunity for your practice. The right approach may even do wonders for your reputation and online footprint.
For example, the Better Business Bureau maintains a review and complaint system. This system displays each complaint, interactions and history, as well as its resolution status. And once you resolve the complaint, it actually becomes a positive review!
Practitioners should also encourage satisfied patients to leave positive reviews on the BBB system.
Best Practices for Medical Online Reputation Management
Generally, the best reputation practice for any healthcare provider is to outsource medical online reputation management. Healthcare providers and employees are often too busy to deal with this effectively.
After all, the best use of their time and skill is providing a better patient experience.
To that end, here are the best reputation management practices for practitioners and healthcare organizations:
Search your brand online
Review what can be found on the world wide web.
Build a strategy
Make a plan to remove and mitigate negative information.
Generate positive content online
Improve your reputation with positive positive articles, blog postings, and customer testimonials.
Encourage patient reviews
Encourage and reward patients who post positive reviews. If possible, automate this process to cover the major review websites. Hint: happy patients often need a little nudge to review your practice.
Promote the good
Leverage positive reviews by promoting them on your site and social profiles. This builds up social trust.
Suppress negative content
Drive negative information down in search results with optimized, brand-centered content.
Monitor professionals affiliated with your practice
Monitor key phrases related to your practice, including physician names and related brands.
Use surveys to generate feedback
Use patient satisfaction surveys to gain valuable patient insight.
Capitalize on SEO
Search engine optimization is a valuable tool for boosting assets and profiles online.
Commonly Asked Questions
Here are a few questions many people have when it comes to reputation management.
Why not just ignore a bad review?
A bad review is like an open wound. It won’t heal properly if not cleaned and addressed properly. Not only that, but it may fester and cause ongoing damage.
What’s worse: when patients research healthcare providers online, they read the reviews. And they usually believe what they read.
If you’re not defending yourself against bad reviews, you’re likely leaving a bad first impression – one that may haunt your practice forever. We call this the “silent business-killer,” as you may not know it until it causes serious damage to your reputation.
Why not take legal action against bad reviewers?
People are free to express their opinions. It’s also a difficult legal challenge to prove libel. Even if the remarks are defamation, it may take years to prove it in court.
What’s more: fighting a legal battle over a negative review actually draws more attention to it.
This isn’t good publicity for a medical practice, particularly if the trending headline is “Doctor Sues for Being Called a Quack!” While legal action can sometimes be effective, it’s also costly and time-consuming. There are better ways to deal with a negative review.
Why can’t a healthcare provider manage his or her online reputation?
For the same reason that a healthcare provider or the medical staff normally do not fix broken plumbing. Managing a medical online reputation requires a special skill set. The process takes a considerable amount of research time, specialized software, expertise, and concentrated effort to improve an online reputation.
It is not an appropriate use of a practitioner’s valuable time to do this work themselves.
What organizations do you work with?
Healthcare systems, healthcare insurance providers, and private practices benefit from outsourcing reputation management.
Major healthcare systems can scale reputation management to hundreds or thousands of providers and locations. Healthcare insurance providers improve member relations by giving their members more information about in-plan providers and treatment options, with ratings and reviews.
Ultimately, this allows them to make an informed choice when selecting a provider in the system. Private practices benefit by attracting more patients and using the feedback to improve patient experiences.
Have some bad reviews online?
We’re here to help.
It makes perfect sense to use a medical online reputation management company to keep your reputation pristine and build awareness with new potential patients. This is not something that should be left to chance. An unmanaged online reputation can do serious damage to your bottom line.
And unless ongoing monitoring is in place, this damage might be happening without your awareness.
Learn more about medical online reputation management and how vital it is for your organization’s success. Call us today at 866-386-0048.