THREE CRUCIAL STEPS IN MANAGING A PHYSICANS ONLINE REPUTATION
Patients’ experiences are at the core of your online reputation. With social media, one bad review can cause a serious negative ripple effect. Here are three crucial considerations for successfully managing your online reputation.
1. EXCELLENT PATIENT EXPERIENCES
While this statement seems obvious, it is vital to understand: your online reputation is a direct reflection of patients’ experiences within your practice. These experiences are not simply the one-on-one interactions with the physician, rather they are the comprehensive experiences of searching for your practice online (perhaps), scheduling an appointment, parking and gaining access to the front door, waiting in the office for reasonable (or unreasonable) lengths of time, interacting with the support staff before and after the physicians’ exams and stopping in at the check-out desk on the way out the door.
Is it easy to find you online and is your website up-to-date? Was it difficult for the patient to find the office or to locate a parking spot? Do your staff members practice empathy and smile when speaking with your patients and do they listen carefully when the patient speaks? Is your office environment a calm one and are all areas clean and organized? Does staff monitor how long a patient waits for care and promptly explain and apologize for, if warranted, any unusually long wait times? When the visit is complete, is the check-out process clear and simple? Are patients treated with respect if they have to make a subsequent call into the practice to inquire about a bill received following a visit? All of these factors and many more will affect how a patient feels about your practice. You want to impress the patient enough to write an excellent review and you want to avoid a negative experience in all cases. An excellent patient experience shared in glowing terms on social media is one of the best referrals you can get! Focus on every aspect of the comprehensive patient experience and train your staff accordingly – then monitor what is said about your practice online.
2. MONITOR ONLINE REVIEWS
The following list contains some popular review sites for providers to monitor but is not comprehensive.
- Google Reviews
- Angie's List
If you are a provider registered in PECOS, you should also be aware that CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) publishes searchable information about you on its website, CMS.gov. This information includes your gender, education, group information, hospital affiliation, whether or not you participate in quality activities and utilize an Electronic Health Record. For some providers, CMS also reports results of your quality initiatives on its “Physician Compare” page.
GOOGLE ALERTS are a great free tool that allows you to monitor what is being said about you and your practice online. You can configure these alerts to monitor many different terms and to notify you at a frequency based on your preferences.
- Enter a term you want to monitor (e.g. company name, high-level employees, etc.)
- Prioritize alerts (e.g. "company name + fraud")
- In addition to monitoring yourself, use it to monitor information about everything from competitors to current industry topics
3. TAKE A PROACTIVE APPROACH
Did you know that 73% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more? Addressing online issues immediately shows that you care about your patients and your practice. According to Software Advice, most patients believe doctors should respond to negative online reviews; they report that seeing the providers’ responses makes them feel as if they’re being heard and that the responding physicians care about patients’ experiences in their practices.
Many providers, however, struggle to find the time to effectively monitor and respond to online comments and reviews; these physicians might consider engaging an experienced online reputation management company to handle this task, especially if there is negative and/or erroneous information about the practice online.