Tips for improving your practice's online reputation

Online reputation management is critical for all healthcare practitioners.

If you’re like most healthcare practitioners, you have probably realized the importance of online reputation and how it can make or break your practice.

When patients find a practice with overwhelmingly positive reviews, there’s a good chance that it will end up in a phone call or visit.

When it comes to healthcare, many people value the quality of care more than the affordability of the service. According to a recent Patient Experience Survey by Software Advice, more than 40% of consumers are willing to go out of their insurance network for a practitioner with positive reviews.

4 Tips on How to Manage Your Practice’s Online Reputation

1. Evaluate Your Current Reputation

You can’t fix something if you don’t know what you’re working with. Take a step back and assess your current reputation by checking what people have been saying about you.

Doing so is as simple as searching for your practice and checking relevant review platforms such as Yelp, RateMDs, Healthgrades, Vitals, or Angie’s List. By visiting these websites, you’ll gain a lot of valuable information that will shape your online reputation management strategy.

2. Launch Your Website

A website is one of the most effective marketing tools for healthcare practitioners to manage their online reputation.

First, you have control over the information that goes into your website, which means that you can highlight the positives of your practice. Second, a website is usually the first point of contact for many of your potential patients. If you’re managing your site properly, you can make an excellent first impression on your visitors and appear more professional and trustworthy.

3. Mind Your Social Media Presence

Social media isn’t just a powerful tool for managing your online reputation but also for proactively engaging potential and current patients. Physicians all over the U.S. have used social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to combat misinformation—not just about their practices but healthcare information in general.

Thus, you should take the time to create social media accounts that are relevant to your practice - Doximity, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, just to name a few. Creating robust social media accounts has been proven effective in managing online reputation.

4. Respond to All Reviews

For physicians who are doing well, online reviews are excellent for attracting new patients. On the other hand, dealing with negative reviews is a public relations nightmare.

This is a difficult issue to navigate but can be solved by simply allowing yourself to take a step back and designate someone to respond to online reviews. After all, it’s hard not to be emotional when dealing with negative comments.

Make sure you’re not responding to the review with any information that would compromise patient privacy protection. This includes not mentioning any details about the patient’s case.

Whether it’s positive or negative reviews, designate someone to respond to all of them. This approach won’t only help you manage negative reviews and not make the situation worse, but will also show that you’re listening to patients’ concerns and addressing them professionally.

Options to dispute negative or incorrect reviews?

Many search engines have a process for disputing a review and requesting it be removed. In most cases if you can prove that the review was left in error, the review site will take the review down. For instance, if someone reference their experience getting a mammogram, and you don’t offer that, then explain in your dispute report that it isn’t a service you offer. Or, if the reviewer references someone who’s not on your staff, be sure to provide those details in your dispute with the review site.

In addition, if a patient makes erroneous claims, such a malpractice without proof, there is a good chance you can get the review taken down for libel. Be sure to follow the process with the third party review site to report the review and request removal.

About the Author
Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing.