Reputation management has never been more important for medical professionals. All the rules of a doctor’s pre-Internet reputation apply, and there are some new things to think about, too. In fact, a properly managed professional reputation online is one of the cornerstones of a solid growth plan for a 21st century doctor’s office—your online presence involves a whole lot more than your own website, and patients are looking everywhere.
When negative media coverage or online reviews about doctors appear online, medical practices see a one third drop in visits and calls to their offices, causing a potentially disastrous financial impact. Online reputation management falls under category of marketing services meant to repair and improve a health professional’s online presence. It tackles the reviews, embarrassing public incidents; bad press coverage or malpractice lawsuits that might threaten a medical practice’s success.
Here are five ways you should be managing your online reputation. The work doesn’t end with these, but they’re a solid start to get you and your practice on the way to healthy growth.
1. Create Medical Profiles on Directories
One of the best approaches to online reputation management for doctors is to create rich profiles on a wide variety of platforms set up specifically for doctors. Just like mainstream social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, social media platforms for doctors stand a very good chance to rank organically in Google for the search term associated with the name of a specific doctor. Some popular social media platforms and directories for doctors are:
As one of the fastest growing provider review sites, CareDash uses artificial intelligence to help detect and stop the publication of fraudulent reviews. Doctors can easily create and personalize their profile, and patients trust the platform to help them confidently choose their care provider.
An online social network for doctors with verified clinicians’ profiles. As of 2018, the network has over 1,000,000 doctors and physicians. That’s approximately 50% of all doctors in the US.
An online health and wellness platform and doctor directory. Sharecare lists each doctor’s full profile - including insurance plans, years of experience, biographical information, specialties, professional affiliations and educational background. The platform also allows doctors to answer questions and provide thought leadership on specific topics.
One of the largest healthcare news and directories in the world. The company allows doctors to create free profiles and advertise on the platform to get new patients.
You need to make sure that all accurate information of your medical office’s location, hours, contacts info, etc. is updated on all relevant social medical like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You should regularly update your profiles any time there’s a change, and make sure any personal physician profiles you claim or create are properly linked to your practice’s listing; if you’re using a different business name for your office or clinic.
Use SlideShare to showcase your expertise, thought leadership and skills as a doctor. Creating a powerful SlideShare online profile is another popular technique used by reputation management companies to remove negative reviews from the first page of Google search results. SlideShare is a social network allowing users to publish professional presentations, info graphics and documents online. The website gets approximately 80 million visitors a month and has over 30 million users.
Use YouTube to post promotional content, highlight testimonials and make your YouTube profile rank highly in search results. YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. Furthermore, YouTube is also a tried and true tactic that has become increasingly popular among doctors to attract new patients, learn new methods, and even attract new employees. In addition, YouTube allows users to create a custom URL in their own name for their channel. As that URL gets backlinks, it will start ranking in search results.
It is well established that social media activity has an impact on Google search results. Specifically, Google is drawn by the number of visits specific websites and blog posts receive directly from social media like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. This strong correlation between Google search results and social media activities is what drives most successful reputation management campaigns for doctors to include a social media component. Creating robust social media profiles combined with frequent posts has proven to be a very effective reputation management technique.
Best way to manage your online reputation is to have a blog. A blog lives on the internet forever (or as long as you pay for your web hosting). More importantly, a blog allows you to speak to your patients - current and future - to show your expertise and the value you bring to your clients. Most important of all, a regularly updated blog is more likely to bring new clients, garner repeat business, and help you and/or your practice rank higher in Google search results.
Make sure that you respond to all reviews on Google/Yelp or any other local classified website. When looking for new service providers, most customers go to two sources: Google and Yelp. For doctors who are doing well – reviews are a great way to attract new customers. For doctors dealing with unhappy customers and other PR baggage, online reviews can be a nightmare.
One often ignored technique for ranking high in Google search results is the practice of creating profiles on Q&A websites and responding to questions posted on message boards that are within the doctor’s specialty. For example, Quora is the most popular question and answer website in the world. It ranks 90th for the most popular sites in the world and 3rd for Q&A sites. On Quora, anyone can create a profile under their own name and contribute to the community.
In the online world, your loyal patients, as well as detractors, have an equal opportunity to express their opinions. Patients hold all the power, and they can use it to build the online image of your practice. The words of your existing patients become the social proof your potential patients will look for when assessing your practice’s credibility and reputation. So instead of fearing negative reviews or pretending that they do not exist, you must take a proactive approach to addressing online reviews. Always acknowledge feedback from your patients. Show your appreciation for the positive feedback, and manage negative feedback by working to resolve pain areas.
Getting high ratings and positive reviews are great for your practice, but do not feel content in just acquiring that five-star reward. You must learn to leverage it to improve patient experience and brand development. On the flipside, if someone reviews you negatively, you need to engage them and find out how you can improve. It is easy to ignore negative feedback as trolling, but if you want to be successful, you need to engage with the naysayers and find out what steps can be taken to turn that one-star into a five-star next time.
The positive reviews you receive can be your best marketing tools. You must promote positive reviews on your website and draw attention to the good things your patients say about your service. There is no better narrator for your awesome service than a happy patient. However, before sharing patient reviews, always seek written consent from the patient to protect his or her privacy.
Most often, unhappy patients will not complain; but are unlikely to use your practice in the future. If you do not provide excellent care, patients will rarely bother telling you what your mistakes were or how to improve. Unhappy patients, in addition to not returning to your practice, will likely tell others about their bad experience. The ripple effect of one unhappy patient can be very damaging to your brand reputation. Make sure your staff is trained on providing excellent customer service.
Develop a plan for following up with patients to make sure they were pleased with the service they received, and to encourage them to share their experiences online. An email a day or two after a visit to your office, postcards offering free flu shots with a reminder to rate you on HealthGrades, even a follow-up phone call when appropriate can improve your patients’ perception and motivate them to say so in public, where it matters most to your practice. Putting a specific point-person in charge of this will free up your time and make sure it actually gets done because the best of plans is useless if it isn’t consciously carried out.
Managing your medical practice’s online reputation is a continuous activity. You cannot build a strong reputation overnight. This is why most doctors choose to hire professionals to help them improve the online reputation of their medical practice.