Eighty-eight percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Like it or not, what patients say about you through online rating sites affects your practice. Even patients who are referred by a friend or family member will most likely search online to learn more about you before making an appointment. What they read on rating and review sites can impact their desire to schedule — or not.
Here are six ways to build a positive reputation:
1. Search for your name on all rating sites.
Before you can manage your online reputation, you've got to understand what patients have already posted about their experience with you. Delegate the task of searching for your online reviews to a staff member and summarize your average ratings into one comprehensive document. Visit at least RateMDs, Healthgrades, Vitals, Yelp!, Angie's List, and Google — and if you are a plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist, add RealSelf and RealPatientRatings to the list.
Read through the consolidated summary thoroughly to get a sense about what you are doing quite well and which areas can be improved. You may be surprised to find that simple improvements could boost your scores.
2. Use automation to monitor what is said about you.
Once you've taken a look at the ratings and reviews that already exist, keep abreast of new postings by using an automated tool such as Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts). Designate one staff person to monitor these so that negative reviews can be dealt with (more on that in a moment) and positive reviews can be turned into social media tidbits and testimonials.
3. Complete your profile and correct errors.
A profile with the default gray silhouette as the photo, along with nothing more than your street address, makes you look old school. Complete all the profile fields on each rating site. Upload a professional photo, not the one with you and your dog on the beach. And if you are able to include a short description or bio, develop a standard paragraph that is friendly and upbeat.
If you find incorrect data on a rating site, fix it. One young doctor was surprised when people he'd never treated began calling his cell phone. A rating site had included that number instead of the office number in his profile. He quickly corrected the mistake.