5 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation
Most physicians and small practices often don’t give marketing much thought. After all, the days are already long and there is more than enough work each day just trying to stay on top of the basics: patient care, medical records and billing. But, with the ever-growing number of online outlets for patients to provide reviews of physicians and their practices, it is more important than ever to make sure that you are on top of your online presence. This is important for two reasons: 1) to make sure that you have an accurate online presence and 2) to help defend yourself against and defuse negative online reviews.
As you might imagine, online review sites can vary greatly in quality, depth of information and medical focus. Some sites (like Healthgrades) are better than others (like Yelp). The best way to start is by seeing where you currently have a presence. So, Google your name and your practice’s name and read everything that’s out there. Then choose to focus your efforts on building your presence.
Physicians Practice recently had an excellent article about how physicians can protect their online reputations. They proposed a list of 5 things physicians can do. Here they are:
1. Create your profile on the major review websites. Take great care to make sure that all of the information is accurate and that there aren’t any typos. If possible, post a warm, professional-looking head shot.
2. If you find a profile that someone else has created for you, “claim” it, correct it and/or update it.
3. Work to create a strong, online presence by asking for positive reviews. Most people don’t think to write reviews and those that do are often doing so because they have had a poor experience. So, ask the patients that you have a good, long-standing relationship with, if they’d be willing to write you a positive review on site X. Accumulating positive reviews can diffuse the occasional negative review. (This author believes that the more specific you can be in asking for your review, the higher the chances of success at getting it. So, don’t just ask your patients to write a review for you. Ask them to write a positive review on a specific site. Also, this way, you can spread out the reviews over multiple sites, at your discretion.)
4. Monitor, monitor, monitor. Unfortunately, this process isn’t a one-time project. It should be viewed as an ongoing task and part of your marketing efforts. So, set specific goals and you’ll be more likely to achieve them. For example, set a day each month to Google yourself and your practice, and see if any new reviews have come up. If you can, delegate the task to a trusted staff member.
5. Lastly, the Physicians Practice author specifically cautions about problems with Yelp and how some reviews (even positive ones!) are sometimes “buried” by Yelp. This makes it all the more important to get those positive reviews outnumbering the negative ones!
So, Google yourself and your practice, add/change/update what you can, and start asking for some positive reviews on the sites of your choosing!