Medical Online Reputation Management for Physicians and Health Organizations

A 2020 survey conducted by Software Advice found that 90% of the survey respondents 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 healthcare provider or doctor. Eight out of ten people check online reviews before deciding on setting an appointment with a medical practitioner.

Physicians operating a private practice and healthcare providers benefit from medical online reputation management. This reduces the risk of losing patients or clients due to having a “bad” reputation from negative information on the Internet, which the public can access.

This work is best outsourced to experts who track a provider’s reputation, monitor review websites, and challenge any misinformation found online. There are two main reasons for online reputation management, which are 1) self-defense to protect a reputation and; 2) to enhance a positive online reputation as a marketing tool.

Medical Online Reputation Management for Self-Defense

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Medical online reputation management is a self-defense tactic because the consequences of not managing an online reputation may be severe and might include:

  • Diminishing career and professional advancement.
  • Causing investors to have a negative reaction when conducting due diligence.
  • Negative impacts on key stakeholders.
  • Making it difficult to maintain a positive public profile.
  • Causing potential new patients to seek another provider.
  • Reducing referrals from other physicians.

Whatever the specific issue, it will not disappear if ignored. A failure to manage an online reputation usually means that a bad situation will probably get worse. If this is the case, take immediate action to reduce the possibility of permanent damage to an online reputation.

Taking a proactive stance when managing an online reputation helps prevent this damage before it happens. If there is lots of negative information online, it takes time to get it removed and/or its impact diminished. Some reputations become so damaged they cannot be repaired. Please do not wait until it is too late to protect a reputation.

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It is important to respond intensely when dealing with critical issues such as:

  • An embarrassing public incident.
  • Receiving widespread negative media coverage.
  • Recovering from the publicity surrounding a malpractice lawsuit.
  • A misinformation campaign by a disgruntled person or fake negative reviews from an unscrupulous competitor, which both have the intent to discredit someone unfairly.

Medical Online Reputation Management as a Marketing Tool

Medical online reputation management can be a very positive marketing tool. Since almost all people use online reviews and a search online when choosing a provider, if a sincere effort is made to make sure these reviews are positive, the results are beneficial. These benefits include:

  • Improved job search and career advancement potentials for individuals.
  • Potential new patients see the provider and an organization as being “one of the best.”
  • Improved standing with media.
  • Protection of relationships with investors.
  • Maintaining a positive public perception may result in awards and recognition and improve the chance to become an influencer, as a “thought leader” who is well-respected.

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It is counter-intuitive to think that a negative review, a complaint, or a bad posting on social media might actually be beneficial. The impact depends on how a complaint is handled. No one expects anyone to be perfect. In fact, having a “perfect” online reputation is not the goal. What is more effective is showing, in public, exactly how a practitioner, their staff, and any associated organization deals with a complaint.

It is a fantastic opportunity to deal with an “irate” customer to show a highly-responsive, professional, fair, and even generous effort, made in public, to satisfy them. A potential new patient might not be persuaded by the complete absence of complaints, especially if the practice is a new one. It is more persuasive for them to find a few complaints dealt with fairly, kindly, and effectively.

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For example, the Better Business Bureau has a review and complaint system. It shows each complaint's interactions and history and if a complaint has been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. A resolved negative complaint is actually a positive review! Practitioners should also encourage satisfied patients to leave positive reviews on the BBB system.

The Best Practices for Medical Online Reputation Management

The strongest recommendation for any busy medical practice is to outsource medical online reputation management. Healthcare providers and their staff are just too busy to deal with this responsibility. They need to use their time and skills in the best ways possible to help the patients so that the practice can thrive.

Here is a list of the best practices for reputation management that can serve as a checklist for the company hired to help with this effort:

  1. Review what can be found on the world wide web.
  2. Make a plan to remove or diminish negative information.
  3. Improve a reputation through positive postings on review sites, positive articles, positive blog postings, and customer testimonials.
  4. Develop a program that encourages and rewards those who post positive reviews. Automate this process as much as possible to cover the major review websites. Patients who as dissatisfied are much more likely to leave a negative review. Satisfied patients have little motivation to make a review unless they have encouragement.
  5. Leverage the impact of positive reviews by promoting them on the practitioner’s website and social media as testimonials and links to the reviews. This builds up social trust.
  6. Drive any negative information down in the search results by overwhelming it with significant postings of positive information.
  7. Monitor all the key phrases such as the staff's names, brand names, and business names to make sure any negative information that comes up in the future can be addressed quickly.
  8. Use patient satisfaction surveys to get valuable feedback.
  9. Using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to make the most positive things, based on relevant keywords, are the highest-ranked items on the first page of the search engine results.
  10. Manage keywords to include negative search terms such as “scam” and “fraud” to get positive reviews associated with negative search terms.

Commonly Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions that most people have when thinking about reputation management.

Why not just ignore a bad review?

A bad review is like an open wound that will not heal properly if not cleaned and dressed with bandages. It stays online forever to fester and cause ongoing damage. When patients are looking for a healthcare provider, they read the reviews. They usually believe what they read.

If your positive rebuttal is not there to defend against this, they can get a bad first impression and click away, never to come back again. We call this the "silent business-killer" because many practitioners may not notice this until the business starts to suffer seriously.

Why not take legal action against bad reviewers?

People are free to express their opinions. It is a difficult legal challenge to prove a libel case (a written defamatory statement). Even if the remarks are defamation, this may take years in court to prove and will be expensive in terms of legal fees. Moreover, fighting a legal battle over a negative online review draws more attention to it.

The attention may cause more damage than the original review. It is not good publicity for a medical practice if the trending headline is “Doctor Sues for Being Called a Quack!” Legal action is not usually a part of the best practices for online reputation management. 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. 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.

Conclusion

It makes perfect sense to use a medical online reputation management company as an ongoing service to keep your reputation pristine and build awareness with new potential patients or clients. This is not something that should be left to chance because an unmanaged online reputation that is very negative can do plenty of damage. Unless ongoing monitoring is in place, this damage might be happening without the practitioner being aware of it.

Find out more about medical online reputation management and learn how it is vital for your medical practice or organization’s success and how easy it is to get started. Use the contact form or call 866-386-0048.

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