Protecting and Improving a Practice's Online Reputation

May 21, 2017

The best way to build and improve an online reputation is to take control of what people are posting about your practice.

In the medical community, your reputation is everything. Establishing and maintaining your online reputation can be a difficult task. It requires knowledge, patience, and dedication to understanding what people are saying about you online. There are hundreds of websites for people to discuss and post comments about your medical practice.

The best way to build and improve your reputation is to take control of what people are posting about your practice online. There are several ways to do this.

Dealing with negative reviews

What action can a physician take when a disgruntled patient starts posting nasty comments on third-party review sites and social media platforms? The best course of action, in such situations, is to stay calm, and if required, repair the relationship with your patient.

Ignoring a negative review may make the reviewer feel that either you do not care or the comment is not legitimate. Deleting the negative review can be ineffective as the reviewer may simply re-post the comment on multiple websites and blame you for “hiding the truth.” Attacking the reviewer can do further damage to your reputation and may result in more hateful comments.

What should you do? The first step is to recognize that you have an annoyed patient. It is important to respond to the negative feedback in a positive manner and react based on a full assessment of the situation.  

Recognize the patient's grievance: Acknowledging that you have a displeased patient can be tough, especially when the physician and staff are being attacked. Negative online reviews usually invoke a sense of fear that the practice’s reputation may be at risk. Despite your emotional reaction, the patient’s complaints must be addressed in a professional and timely manner.

Assess the situation: If the patient is right, an explanation and an apology should resolve the situation. You can take this as an opportunity to evaluate your policies and practices and improve them. However, what if the patient is wrong? You can resolve such cases by communicating with the patient. Patients who feel heard may remove their negative comment or post a positive one explaining how the physician was willing to listen and resolve the problem.

Respond positively: You can request the patient to take the conversation offline to address the problem with a simple message encouraging anyone with a complaint regarding the practice should call the front desk.. If the patient does not take the initiative to call and discuss the issue, your staff can contact him or her. Most people will say things online that they would never say face-to-face. A phone call can provide a better chance of connecting with the patient and solving the problem. Even when you communicate with the patient face-to-face or through a phone call, always be polite and respectful.

Is your reputation safe?

Like other service-oriented businesses, physicians have realized that their practice is susceptible to the influence of online reviews. In fact, online reviews can significantly influence potential patients to schedule appointments.

Unfortunately, most doctors are not trained to gather positive patient reviews efficiently. Moreover, of the small percentage of physicians who do manage to gather positive feedback, most are not able to leverage those reviews to create a strong online reputation. Undoubtedly, you and your employees are working hard to ensure quality patient care, manage expectations, handle emergencies, and deal with insurance issues. The last thing you want is another complicated task of managing reputation.

Here are some simple steps to ensure success:

1. Build a strong website. A solid website includes useful content, treatment videos, online appointment functionality, and even links to Healthgrades and other review websites.

2. Maintain a robust online presence. A strong online presence will foster credibility, authority, and trust. Make sure you allocate sufficient time, energy, and resources for establishing and maintaining a solid online presence.

3. Leverage social networks. Patients are increasingly utilizing social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to post their experiences and opinions about your services. Do not ignore these comments. By keeping an open communication channel between your practice and the reviewers, you will improve your online reputation.

4. Ask for patient reviews. Encouraging your patients to post online reviews is one of the best ways to keep your content fresh and updated. Newer reviews may let your potential patients know about your services, steering them toward your practice.

5. Deliver an excellent patient experience. Train your staff to treat patients with courtesy and warmth. Your employees must be trained to welcome patients and make them feel comfortable. These small gestures will help a patient feel connected to your practice and may generate a positive review.

Make a positive online reputation your goal. You must promise yourself to manage it, improve it, redefine it if required, and then watch your practice grow. This is because your brand name is all you really have. If you resolve to make your name rise to the top, you are investing in yourself.

Those few extra dollars will come and go, but your brand name and reputation are yours forever. Make them positive and strong.

Manish Chauhan is Digital Marketing Manager at myPracticeReputation which is an easy-to-use reputation management solution for physicians to help monitor, protect and promote their medical practices at all times in the simplest way possible.