Now more than ever the online reputation of a physician or medical practice is important. The information that is published online by patients, directory sites or even in some cases competitors or employees can have drastic consequences for a physician.

emr-physicians-graphicBut there are a few simple tips that a physician can follow to improve and protect their online reputation.

  1. Awareness – First and foremost it is important to know what is being said. By using a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo, search for your medical practice name and physician name and see what reviews, information or online comments show up. This is your first impression for current or future patients.
  2. Ongoing Monitoring – It’s not enough to look at your reviews or business listings once in a while or even once a week. Damage from a negative review or online post can have immediate and ongoing consequences on your reputation and livelihood. The best way to handle it is to have an automated solution that constantly is on the lookout for these and provides alerts when something is found. Google Alerts or someone more robust like a review and listing management solution will cost about $50 per month but provide great information and piece of mind.
  3. Respond to Reviews – If a review is written about your practice, it’s important to respond to the post especially the negative ones. HIPAA rules make it more challenging for a doctor to respond but it is still possible to respond. In many cases you will be able to tell who the review was written by and a call them directly to resolve the issue. After the issue is resolved the person who posted may be willing to revise or remove the negative review. Not responding to reviews is like not answering the phone at your medical practice.
  4. Don’t Be Defensive – The response to a complaint (or a compliment) is very important. In many instances a poor response can make the issue worse. Being defensive, accusatory, dismissive or making excuses will not help solve the problem. Plus remember, other patients or potential new patients will see your response. Take a deep breath, be sincere and respond appropriately.
  5. Embrace Social Media – Like it or not, social media is here to stay so embrace it. Patients are going to form an opinion about you or your medical practice based on what is on social media so the best defense is a great offense. Have a strategy to post great content and information and be sure to respond to posts on your social media profiles. For a medical office, the most important sites are Facebook, Google Plus, Foursquare and Twitter. If you as a physician don’t have time or knowledge to manage your profile, have your office manager or hire a marketing or reputation management company to manage and post for you.
  6. Review and Update Business Listings – Online business listings on sites like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp are mostly pulled from centralized databases that are wrong or outdated. For most long term businesses or medical practices, as many as 80% of these online listings contain errors. If the wrong phone number or address is listed, this can result in a loss of business. Monitor these sites to see how you are being represented online. Many of these sites are also tied to reviews as well.
  7. Have a Great Web Site – Having an easy to navigate web site using industry standard design methods is more important than ever. Your web site is the front door to the internet so make it look great! If you haven’t updated your web site in a few years, a lot has changed. Mobile search has become more important as more people use phones to find a physician and view your web site. Make sure your site uses a responsive design or is mobile friendly.

About Us: Reputation Health is a reputation management and online marketing company for medical practices and healthcare facilities. Reputation Health offers; reputation monitoring, reputation repair, social media management, business listing management and website design services. Reputation Health can be found at www.reputation-health.com.