Written By David M. Williams | Chief Strategy Officer | LEVO Health
There are many reasons why it is more difficult being a physician today, than it was 10 years ago, one of them is managing their online physician reputation. People now view and research physicians and other healthcare providers like they would a new restaurant.
Physician review sites such as Healthgrades and Vitals allow potential patients to learn more about a physician’s bedside manner and approach to care prior to stepping foot in the office. There is no argument that there is merit to having bad physician be accountable for their actions, however what about the physicians who are negatively impacted by things out of their control?
A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 40% of polled patients believe online physician ratings are “somewhat important” and of these same patients, 35% ended up choosing a physician based on good ratings. Most importantly, 27% of polled patients avoided a physician with negative ratings.
We have designed a roadmap that physicians can use to help take back control of their online reputation.
- Build a Reputation Dashboard – Before visiting Google, create a dashboard in either Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. You will use this to begin tracking the sites, urls, and comments about yourself or your practice. It doesn’t need to be complicated, however it is important to have all the mentions in one centralized document.
- Perform Online Searches – Start out by Googling yourself, don’t just put your full name, but be sure to try multiple iterations, with or without MD, DO, DDS, DMD, etc. Be sure to include your city or medical practice if you practice in an area with doctors of similar names.
- Evaluate Your Reputation and Add to Dashboard – The initial search results should provide an overview of your reputation and how you are being perceived by past and prospective patients. Also, if you find that you have incomplete, outdated or incorrect information follow the steps outlined on each website for claiming your physician review profile.
- Separate the Good Reviews from the Bad Reviews – There are many different strategies and processes for dealing with good versus bad reviews. First we’ll focus on the good reviews.
- The Good – Most of the time these reviews will be live on Yelp, Facebook, Google, Healthgrades, Vitals, and many other. Share these reviews across your social media channels and if you have access, your own website. Good reviews are hard to come by, and if you are not already doing so, start a proactive patient testimonial program.
- The Bad – When dealing with negative reviews, it’s hard not to get angry and take them personally, however it’s important to view the review from the patient’s perspective. Many times the chief complaints are focused on their interaction with support staff, wait times, and physician bedside manor. Unfortunately, there will always be unhappy people, and these same people tend to shout the loudest. The first step in dealing with a negative review is to immediately respond to the patient. The quicker the response the more likely people will be to feel “heard”.
- Begin a Proactive Patient Testimonial Program – Don’t wait until you see a negative review online to do something. Get ahead of your recent patients by setting up a physician review program, this way you can help address any problems before they become public.