Patients nowadays rely heavily on the internet to find and choose healthcare providers, making reputation management for doctors a priority for practices big and small. Your online presence is how you make your first impression, and the quality of that first impression is critical in patients’ decision-making process. A strong online reputation can help persuade new patients to choose your practice over others.
If you haven’t actively focused on doctor reputation management up till now, or your reputation is not where you’d like it to be despite your best efforts, don’t worry. Check out these actionable tips covering reputation management for doctors to take control today.
7 ways to step up your doctor reputation management efforts
Create or claim online profiles
As a business, your practice may be listed on dozens of online business directories. As a provider, you likely also have profiles on physician directories like Vitals. Search engines consider online directories highly reputable, and these profiles can rank higher than your website in search results.
Unclaimed profiles are often riddled with inconsistencies, which can hurt your online reputation, especially if patients can’t figure out how to reach you. If you’re not listed on these directories, creating profiles will help enhance your web presence and set the foundation for your online reputation. Many patients rely on these sites to help them choose a new doctor, so it’s important to be listed (and listed correctly) in order to boost your brand awareness.
A few tips to remember:
- You should only have one listing per directory.
- Your name, address, and phone number (NAP) should be consistent across all directories.
- Turn on notifications for when a person leaves an online review, if possible.
How do I look? Online directory blunders and successes
Reply to negative reviews, where appropriate
Addressing less-than-flattering feedback is key for good reputation management for doctors. Negative reviews happen to all doctors, and they even have some benefits, so there’s no reason to let them derail your online reputation management efforts. Instead, take control by responding in a thoughtful way.
You might be surprised to learn that patients actually expect doctors to respond to reviews. According to a survey by Software Advice, 70 percent of patients say that it is very or moderately important to them that providers answer negative reviews. The same survey revealed that one in five people will disregard a negative review if the provider has responded in a thoughtful manner.
When responding, thank the patient for their feedback. You want to be careful not to share too much, and stay mindful of HIPAA regulations. In your reply, offer to move the conversation offline to understand the root of the reviewer’s discontent.
Can doctors sue over negative reviews?: How to handle online criticism
Report fraudulent or fake reviews
Fake reviews can be disheartening because they are a misrepresentation of your practice. Although it is not uncommon to get a fraudulent or mistaken review, there are steps you can take to get these removed.
Processes for removal vary by online directory, so it’s important to check and understand each website’s policies. For example, Google My Business prohibits fake content, spam, and off-topic reviews, among other content. If you receive a review that violates Google’s policy, you can flag the individual review for removal.
Ask your patients for reviews
Your satisfied patients are the biggest advocates for your practice, so you should regularly ask them to give feedback as part of your online reputation management efforts. Asking patients to give online reviews will help boost the number of reviews for your practice, which will paint a more complete picture of what it is like to be your patient. Plus, consumers want a business to have a minimum of 40 reviews before they think its average star rating is accurate or trustworthy, according to BrightLocal.
Even if you have a significant number of reviews, it’s important to continuously ask your patients for reviews, because consumers put less stock in older reviews. According to BrightLocal, 85 percent of consumers think reviews older than 3 months are irrelevant, and two in every five consumers only care about reviews written in the last 2 weeks.
If you have your patients’ email addresses, try sending them patient satisfaction surveys following their visit. You might write: “We’d like to know how well we’re meeting your needs. Would you be willing to share your experiences?”
Work to reduce wait times
Your online reputation is an extension of your patients’ experience in your practice. If patients are satisfied or dissatisfied with their visit, they will share their opinions online. Ways to boost patient satisfaction at your practice include having a friendly staff, keeping up the cleanliness of your office, and having a caring bedside manner.
Patients also appreciate being seen as close to their appointment time as possible. Thirty percent of patients have left a doctor’s appointment due to high wait times, according to a Vitals report. The report also found that high average star ratings are correlated with low wait times: Doctors with an average rating of 5 stars tended to have the lowest average wait time at 13 minutes and 17 seconds.
Create and promote useful content
Sharing useful content online can help boost your online reputation. There are a variety of ways you can do this:
- Via a blog on your website
- On social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter
- By sending out emails to your patient list
Blogging helps add pages to your website, which, in turn, expands your web presence. Simply growing your online footprint can help bury any information that weakens your online reputation. Blog pages also strengthen your online reputation, especially if you’re blogging about conditions you treat or the services you offer. One in 20 Google searches is health-related, according to Google, so by blogging you are providing information that people are searching for.
Being active on social media helps increase your practice’s overall brand awareness and allows you to engage with your audience. By sharing useful content, you can build your online reputation by positioning yourself as a reputable source and a thought leader in your field.
Proactively monitor online reputation
The best way to make sure you’re in control of your online reputation is to actively monitor it. If you have profiles on multiple websites, it can become tedious to keep track of all the reviews you are receiving. You may consider adopting reputation management software to monitor what people are saying about your business.
PatientPop helps providers monitor reviews from a variety of third-party websites all in one place. Our practice growth solution helps practices stay on top of their reputation with patient satisfaction surveys and alerts to negative feedback.