Why is Online Reputation Management Important for Doctors?

Online Reputation Management is the influencing and/or control of an individual's or business's online reputation.

Originally a public relations term, the advancement of internet and social media use, along with reputation management companies, have made it primarily an issue of search results. Parts of reputation management are often associated with ethical grey areas, such as review sites, censoring negative complaints or using SEO tactics to game the system and influence results. There are also ethical forms of reputation management, which are frequently used, such as responding to customer complaints, asking sites to take down incorrect information and using online feedback to influence product development.

Why is an online reputation important for doctors and medical practices?

More patients than ever are going online to research their doctor. According to a study from Pew Internet, 44 percent of patients online do so. And about one in five use physician-rating sites. Physicians don't want to be defined by a negative news story, or a bad review from an online physician-rating site. That's why it's important that they take control of their online reputation before someone else does. The number of patients who consider physician-rating sites to be important is much higher than it was just a few years ago. 

Physicians should see online reviews as an opportunity for growth, and encourage patients to leave positive reviews. A new patient that understands your strengths and flaws and chooses you with awareness of these factors is likely to be a patient you'll enjoy working with. 

Doctors can encourage online reviews and take a few simple steps to developing a good online reputation:

  • Sign up for physician review sites. Don't wait for the reviews to come to you. Create a profile on major review sites. You'll be able to provide the websites with accurate, up to date information, including your practice address, specialties, education, and awards.
  • Respond to reviews. Show patients that you truly care what they think of your service as a medical professional by responding to their reviews, both positive and negative.
  • Consider negative feedback a gift. Hearing the truth hurts, especially if a review is not entirely fair or based on factors outside of your control. Still, negative reviews can help you shed light on missteps in your practice. Patients who complain about long wait times or trouble with filling prescriptions may help you better direct your office staff. 
  • Ask patients to review you. Let patients know that you are proud of your work as a physician, and that you appreciate recommendations, both through word of mouth and online. Place links to physician review sites on your website and newsletters, allowing patients to see and contribute to your reviews online 
It's important for doctors to Google themselves at least once a week and see what comes up, because that's what patients are doing

Source: Reputationmanagement.com, HuffingtonPost.com