There’s no way around it patients are spending time online. They’re seeking medical information, researching doctors, writing physician reviews, and making their voices heard. According to a 2014 consumer survey, 84% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians, and the majority of patients use reviews as the first step in choosing a provider.
As a busy physician, maintaining your online reputation may seem like the least of your worries. However, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 35% of patients indicated that they would select a physician based on positive reviews and 37% would avoid doctors with negative reviews. Your online reputation is important, but where do you begin?
Reputation maintenance can be tricky, but with these five tips you’ll be navigating the world of online reputation management like a pro.
- Don’t ignore online ratings and reviews. Ignorance is not always bliss. Acting like your online reputation doesn’t matter will not make it go away or make it any less significant. Instead, embrace online ratings and reviews. Whether you’re a fan of them or not, they’re here to stay. There’s a saying: If you can’t beat them, join them.The same idea applies to online reviews.
- Make bedside manner a priority. Often overlooked, bedside manner can help build trust with your patient and a likable reputation among patients and colleagues alike. It can even affect a patient’s health and recovery. If these aren’t reasons enough, a doctor’s bedside manner is the most often mentioned factor in online ratings. By having a good bedside manner, you are more likely to receive positive feedback from patients online.
- Don’t overlook angry patients. Ignoring angry patients will not make them or their poor reviews disappear. By ignoring them and not addressing their issues, you risk coming across as dismissive or arrogant. Patients want to feel their concerns are heard, and 60% of patients feel it is important for doctors to post responses to reviews. If a negative review does arise, take the time to make a thoughtful reply, providing clear, factual information and maintaining a positive tone. Do not ask the patient to remove their review or get defensive or critical. Instead, use your response to address their complaints, problem-solve, and use the experience as an opportunity to improve.
- Take time to respond to the positive reviews. It’s not just negative reviews that warrant a response. If you see a patient has given you a glowing review, take the time to tell them how much you appreciate their honest feedback. Its reviews like these that help build your online reputation and give you credibility among patients.
- Ask patients you trust for reviews. Positive reviews are the easiest and best way to build up your reputation online. If you find that you do have negative reviews, positive feedback can help counter this. Directly asking patients for praise may seem uncomfortable at first, but there are other ways to foster feedback.
- Send a follow-up email to patients with a clickable link in your email signature to popular review sites like WebMD, ZocDocs, and RateMDs. For a full list of popular sites, visit liveclinic.com.
- Hand them a card with URLs listed for key consumer rating sites.
- Send them a signed letter through the mail with web addresses to popular review sites. Include steps on how to post.
Don’t let the fear of reviews keep you from checking what the internet has to say. Patients are going to talk and it’s important that you join the conversation. With these five tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to a stellar reputation in no time.