Reputation, as defined by Wikipedia is the “opinion (more technically, a social evaluation) of the group of entities toward a person.” Physicians and other medical providers’ success depend on their reputation. With the technological advancements prevalent today, it is all too easy for a disgruntled patient to go online and post their displeasure for the entire world to see. When that happens, your negative review is available for the masses to read indefinitely. Additionally, the comment may rank high on search engines depending on the authority of the site it was posted to. That means that when a potential patient types your name or practice name into a search engine, they may find both negative and positive comments easily.
What’s a provider to do?
If you are not already regularly managing your online presence, you are doing yourself and the practice you built a disservice. One of our clients recently had a very negative and false statement posted about them on a popular physician ranking site. While performing a routine reputation check for this provider, we discovered it and quickly had it removed from the site. Thankfully, the offending comment was found shortly after it was posted. The comment could have really hurt the providers’ practice had it not been discovered or if it was discovered too late.
What is online reputation management?
Reputation management is the process of tracking the public opinion of a person, company, service or brand across cyberspace. It entails research of specific keywords, evaluation of the feedback listed and then acting to reduce or eliminate negative comments while promoting the positive.
A common question we get is what to do when a negative comment is posted. What you do really depends on the type of comment that was posted. If it was untrue as in the case above, you can potentially have it removed by speaking with the site that hosts the review. Otherwise, the best option is not to delete the comment, but to address it online. For example, if John Smith comments on Facebook that they had an extremely long wait while at your office, reply to his comment by stating that you appreciate their feedback and are working to improve patient wait times. This does not make you a bad practice. Every medical practice has issues with wait times at one point or another. Emergencies happen and patients understand this. By responding to a comment, both negative and positive, you show patients that you are tuned in to their feedback. By commenting and honestly addressing their concerns without violating any HIPAA laws, you show the public that feedback, both good and bad is welcome and that you care enough to make changes so negative experiences do not happen again.
There are many tools available to help manage your online reputation. The best tool, however, is utilizing search engines and physician ranking sites. This takes time and commitment for long term success, yet it is vital to the livelihood of a medical practice.
If you need help managing your online reputation, give MindStream Creative a call at (919) 449-6591. We would be honored to help!