Prevent a Poor Online Reputation from Harming Your Medical Practice

August 23, 2014

Doctors and their practices are similar to any product or service: They represent a brand, and like all products or services, that brand must be protected.

If you are like me, as a child you grew up under the premise of, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names (or words) will never hurt me." The expression noted that you wouldn't get hurt, no matter what was said about you and no matter what you were called. For physicians and medical practices, however, the expression doesn't stick.

Doctors and their practices are similar to any product or service: They represent a brand, and like all products or services, that brand must be protected.

Negative press can instantly and immeasurably harm brands. And the biggest area where doctors may experience that harm is on the Internet. The good news is that doctors can take steps to keep their online reputation - and their brand - protected.

What is reputation management?
Prospective patients are now utilizing search engines to find new doctors while conducting a tremendous amount of research to determine if that doctor’s brand matches up with what the patient values. Often, patients will receive their first impression of you from an online doctor rating website. In addition, patients might learn about your practice through online forums, Twitter, and Facebook.

Is reputation management worth it?
A proactive approach to online reputation management requires doctors and staff to monitor the Web on a regular basis. Patients are more likely to dispense negative information online about you than to complaint to you about it personally. That can have a direct effect on whether other potential patients come to your practice.

For example, I am certain that you have used Amazon to some degree. Many products are sold on Amazon, and with each one there is a comment area so that previous purchasers can allow others to understand what they've enjoyed or not about the particular product or service. Herein lies the question, how many products have you refrained from purchasing because of another reviewer's comments whether they were truthful or not? I'm betting a lot.

How do I begin?
The first step in any successful campaign is simply utilizing a search engines such as Google or Yahoo and researching your own name. Simply enter your first and last name into the search bar and begin to review the doctor rating websites that allow comments. Determine for yourself what existing and prospective patients are saying about you and staff. By the way this is a tremendous way to also mystery shop your practice.

If time is a problem, it is always helpful to hire a reputation management company, a social media management company, or even an Internet virtual assistant that continually monitors the Web for such activity. While the prices alter based upon the experience and level of sophistication, the fee invested will be better than the lost opportunities.

Reputation management, when handled appropriately, could potentially increase patient demand and increase your revenue. This is similar to planting a tree and ensuring that it has tremendous root structure. It will aid your reputation and root your future revenue flow.