These days, with 84% of patients turning to the internet to research potential healthcare providers, reputation management for doctors has become important not only to address any potential concerns patients have but also to promote the high-quality patient care you provide.

Here’s your guide to healthcare reputation management to build a thriving practice.

Why is online reputation management for doctors so important?

Maybe you were part of the contingent that laughed when ads for online reputation management firms began popping up in the years following Google’s founding in 1998. After all, it’s not like your medical practice is making a splash in the tabloids.

Times have changed, though. Online reputation management, sometimes abbreviated as ORM, is the new public relations campaign previously waged in newspapers and on TV. It’s a digital version of helping your patients get to know you, debunking any misinformation, and addressing any issues that arise. 2019 reputation management for doctors is almost exclusively about your practice’s life online.

The fact is that most patients begin their quest for a new doctor online. Consider these statistics.

  • Word of mouth is falling behind: 72% of patients rely on online reviews when selecting a doctor
  • In-network doesn’t always win: 48% of patients will choose an out-of-network doctor if their reviews are better than in-network providers
  • Patients want to hear from you: 65% of patients want doctors to respond to reviews (positive or negative!)
  • People will travel: More patients are willing to travel for high-quality medical care, and online reviews for healthcare can send them your way

Where do I start with reputation management for doctors?

The best place to start with reputation management for doctors is already in the office: with your satisfied, happy patients.

Make it easy for patients to leave you a review by reminding them in an email with direct links to review sites (see below). You can’t offer incentives for good reviews, but as you’ll see, even the less-than-positive reviews can help boost your reputation.

1. Understanding where patients are leaving you reviews

So where are your patients leaving reviews online? There are a handful of reputable sites that host trusted reviews. They include the following.

  • ZocDoc: Patients can review your practice and schedule an appointment online at the same time
  • Healthgrades: Healthgrades offers background on prospective doctors, including education, experience, and specialty
  • Angie’s List: Started as a site to review home services contractors, Angie’s List is growing in popularity as a site for healthcare reviews
  • Vitals.com: Vitals.com compiles reviews and online statistics to provide comprehensive information on doctors
  • RateMDs: RateMDs boasts nearly two million reviewed doctors and almost three million users
  • Yelp: Yelp has gotten some flak for biased restaurant reviews lately, but they still maintain an active section for reviewing doctors and medical practices

Because most patients who review their doctors post positive or mostly positive reviews, it’s important to encourage your patients to take a moment to evaluate your services.

Most medical specialties are concerned about negative reviews, but in the end, fewer than 20% of reviews are ranked as “very or somewhat negative.” Even negative reviews present opportunities for positive reputation management for doctors (see below!).

Your Guide To Reputation Management For Doctors And Healthcare Clinics | Boost Medical

2. Putting together a review management strategy

Now that the reviews are coming in, the work has just begun. A review management strategy is crucial. It’s important to assign the task of HIPAA compliant reputation management to a trusted staff member (or handle it on your own).

As with all medical issues, privacy is important and legally protected under HIPAA rules. While you cannot legally discuss specific patient concerns in the open forum of the internet, you can reach out to them and encourage them to contact your office if they require assistance.

Timing your responses is also important. Don’t let a review – good or bad – go unanswered for longer than a few days. In a world of healthcare that can feel rushed and impersonal, patients are looking for responsive doctors who take the time and care to answer questions and make them feel heard.

Plus, responding to reviews – positive and negative – can boost your Google search ranking.

3. Responding to reviews, both good and bad

It’s simple: responding to your reviews is not only good healthcare reputation management, it makes patients feel heard.

It doesn’t matter who they are or in what stage of their life: patients want a doctor who makes them feel valued. When a patient leaves a good review and you respond, you are telling that patient that you appreciate them and you are pleased that they left your office feeling better. At the same time, responding promptly to bad reviews lets the reviewer know that you hear them and are dedicated to making it right.

4. Learning how to respond to bad reviews

While HIPAA compliant reputation management prevents you from solving the problem out in the open for all to see, there are three important steps to take online if you get a bad review.

  1. Acknowledge the complaint: The internet is forever. Most sites prevent medical practices from taking down or blocking bad reviews, so step up and own the bad review as soon as you can.
  2. Offer an apology: This is not an admission of guilt. You can say something simple like, “I am sorry you had this experience.” Chances are good you are actually sorry their experience was not good. Be genuine and empathetic.
  3. Provide a solution: A solution in this case may be to simply encourage the reviewer to call your office the following day and to ask for a specific person. This takes the apology one step further and lets the reviewer know you are dedicated to making it right.

Be professional and solution-oriented in your response. The patient’s experience, whether you agree or not, is their experience. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. The goal is a resolution to the issue and positive steps forward.

In the best-case scenario, the person can update their review to reflect how you helped with their issue. Even if that doesn’t occur, other people who are reading your reviews online see that you pay attention to your patients and are willing to work with them if issues arise.

Advanced strategies for reputation management for doctors

Reputation management for doctors is an important part of the practice but can turn into a full-time job. At Boost Medical, we have hands-on experience managing the reputations of medical practices and healthcare organizations both large and small.

Get in touch today to learn about our advanced strategies for reputation management for doctors.

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