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4 ways healthcare providers sabotage their online reputations

Check out a few ways you might be driving prospective patients away from your practice.

A positive online reputation can help healthcare providers attract new patients to their practices. The opposite is also true: A negative online reputation can drive prospective patients away.

This article discusses four ways healthcare providers commonly jeopardize their online reputations — and what they can do to fix any damage they might have done.

They Don’t Claim Healthcare and Business Listings

Unclaimed profiles or listings on healthcare, business, and review websites can be frustrating for prospective patients interested in learning more information about you and your practice. Unclaimed profiles lack photos and can show inaccurate contact information and business information (like address and hours).

To inspire confidence in prospective patients, you need to claim and optimize your healthcare and business listings. There are more than 70 possible websites where your practice could appear, so you should prioritize on healthcare review sites like Healthgrades. For each listing,

  • Verify you are the healthcare practice owner and that the description of the practice is accurate.
  • Ensure your address, website URL, phone number, and business hours are accurate.

Related: Why You Should List Your Practice on Local Business Directories

They Don’t Ask Patients to Share Feedback and Write Reviews

Healthcare providers should actively seek feedback from patients about their experience with their practice. Asking patients to share feedback has a few benefits.

First, it helps providers see problems that could hurt patient satisfaction in the long run. Second, it helps them better understand patient expectations. For instance, you might find most patients want to be able to book appointments online. And last, it helps them identify satisfied patients who they can ask to give online reviews, which has a big impact on online reputation.

The most opportune time to ask patients for feedback is at the end of their appointments or shortly thereafter. If you find a patient is satisfied, immediately ask them to leave you a review on the healthcare or business review site of their choice.

They Don’t Thank Patients for Positive Reviews

Patients who provide feedback about your healthcare practice do so on their own time for no personal gain. Thanking them for writing reviews can reaffirm their belief that you are a good provider on many levels. Thanking people who leave positive reviews also demonstrates to prospective patients that you value your relationship with patients.

Be natural when recognizing positive reviews, and keep your replies timely and short. Something as simple as, “Thank you, [reviewer’s name],” will do, though you can write a longer reply as long as it does not reveal any private health information.

They Don’t Reply to Negative Reviews

When a negative review appears, you must act on it. According to Software Advice, 65% of patients feel it is very important or moderately important for doctors to respond to negative reviews.

Replying to negative reviews can be trickier than replying to positive ones. To keep them from damaging your online reputation, follow these best practices:

  • Reply as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 hours. This shows potential and current patients that you are responsive. If you miss the 24 hour window, respond as soon as you can.
    Assure the reviewer their complaint was heard. If a person is upset, you should let them know their needs and opinions matter to your practice.
  • Apologize if appropriate, but do not admit fault. For small complaints like long wait times, a simple apology can go a long way. However, you should never admit fault or express regret of any kind for complaints that could be construed as malpractice.
  • Do not reveal any protected health information. Always keep HIPAA guidelines in mind, and don’t refer to a patient’s symptoms or diagnoses, even if the patient references these online.
  • Encourage the reviewer to contact you offline. Demonstrate that solving issues is a top priority for your healthcare practice by encouraging the reviewer to call you directly. Even if you don’t hear from that person, prospective patients will see your dedication to finding a resolution.

For more on this topic, see the blog “3 Ways Healthcare Practices Can Improve Online Reputation.”

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