Before potential patients call your office to book an appointment, they often go online to gather all the information they can about your practice. According to a study from Digital Assent, 85 percent of patients are not comfortable choosing a healthcare provider with a one-star rating for more than 10 percent of the reviews.
Patients now are conscious, make informed decisions and have more choices now than ever. It is essential, therefore, that practices act in a way that gives them the best possible online reputation.

 

Managing your practice’s online reputation is an ongoing process. In order to establish and protect your reputation, there are a few rules you should follow to ensure you are not sabotaging your brand image or letting a tainted reputation go unchecked.

 

To understand the importance of creating a reputation management strategy for your medical practice it is important to first understand how healthcare reviews and patient satisfaction scores work. There are several online review sites where patients can weigh-in about your practice and their patient experience. Websites such as Yelp, Google, and Facebook allow visitors to leave a 1-5-star review about the quality of a company’s products and services and write a description that explains the reason for this rating.

 

It should come as no surprise that companies who appear on the first page of Google search results receive a majority of consumer interest and business. However, getting to the top requires consistent, strategic initiatives with a keen eye on successful healthcare SEO practices. 

 

To accomplish this feat, you’ll need to partner with a reputation management company that also specializes in SEO for medical practices – ensuring your practice dominates Google in your local area.  Why? Because Google frequently alters its search algorithm. 

 

Keeping your website ranking high calls for a team with the expertise necessary to monitor and implement regular changes to ensure you’re staying abreast of the latest SEO best practices. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that no one wants their competitor’s leftovers. 

 

The potential hazard of patient review sites comes when patients go to these sites, unprompted, to offer their feedback. This becomes a gamble for healthcare providers because patients are leaving a review for one of two reasons; they either had a good experience or they had a bad experience. More often than not the unprompted reviews are negative. While you may have the utmost confidence in the care you provided your patient, there are many other reasons they may report a negative experience.

 

Once something is on the internet, it’s out there for good. We’ve witnessed how single tweets from years ago have resurfaced and ruined careers. Maintaining up-to-date information about your medical practice and proactively taking charge of your online reputation will ensure your business is received in both trustworthy and credible light.

 

Don’t let negative patient reviews harm your medical practice. At Webcide.com, we can help you find out what is being said about you and where. Our online reputation management for your medical practice includes working with you to determine the most appropriate response to reviews when found. For example:

 

  • When online reviews are positive, timely, personal responses on your behalf can ensure that your current patients remain happy while strengthening your doctor-patient relationship.

  • When online reviews are negative, it is vital to promptly address them. There are numerous ways to respond, depending on the content and the unique circumstances surrounding each review. Based on our extensive experience, our in-depth knowledge of healthcare online reputation management, and specialized tools at our disposal, we can help you determine the best approach for you, your patients, and your online ratings and reputation.

 

From the first phone call or online interaction with your office to the final departure from your building, the patient experience covers that and everything in between. When a patient leaves you a review, the overall impression of your practice can really have nothing to do with the quality of care you provided.

 

The vast majority of patients seeking a new doctor will first read a few of your online reviews before scheduling an appointment. Are you making sure they like what they see? 

 

Our services include the following:

 

  • We claim your online listings (such as on Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, Yelp, etc.), verify that your information is correct, respond to positive reviews, and alert you within 1 business day to any negative ones. We can then either respond to the review on your behalf or request that their review be removed for its inappropriate nature – due to issues such as authenticity, profanity, HIPAA violations, etc.

  • You will receive email alerts of all new reputation-related activity.

  • Each month, you will receive analytics that break down your online reputation activity of the previous month, so you can identify trends and monitor resolutions.

  • We will send out emails or text blasts to your patients, asking them to review your services online.

 

Parts of the patient experience that may influence how a patient feels about your practice are:

 

  • The validity of your practice information online.

  • The ease of making an appointment.

  • The friendliness of your staff on the first phone call or correspondence.

  • Parking availability or lack thereof.

  • The environment within your practice and how it made the patient feel.

  • The cleanliness of your office (you don’t want patients taking pictures of overflowing trash cans).

  • The helpfulness of your staff (are they trained?).

  • Wait times.

  • Privacy practices.

  • The ease of dealing with the billing department and handling insurance issues.

 

A patient review might have nothing to do with you personally as a healthcare provider and everything to do with how your front desk receptionist made them feel. To further complicate this, your overall online rating is determined by an average of the reported reviews. So, if you are not proactively managing new five star reviews and one patient goes online and leaves a negative review, your practice rating will go down.

 

Although there’s very little cost involved, the Internet has many facets and reputation management requires a systematic commitment of time and effort. (You may want some professional help, particularly to get things going at the outset.)

 

Perhaps a potential new patient was unable to get an appointment with you for the day or time they desired. Or maybe an existing patient is frustrated with the limitations of their insurance coverage. Even when you go the extra mile and fit someone into your schedule for a same-day appointment, it could result in a longer-than-average wait time for the patient. Even if this had been adequately communicated to the patient, they still may be unhappy.

 

You know what happens next. Patients may take to an online forum or healthcare review website to vent their frustration – whether or not warranted – in an effort to be heard and feel better. The negativity can snowball, gathering comments on the general theme, even if it has nothing to do with you.

 

This can wreak havoc on your business. Current patients may shop around for another doctor. New patients may opt to go elsewhere based on what they’re reading about you online.

 

It’s important to remember that, regardless of the content of the complaint or its validity, ignoring patient reviews is never the right choice. We can help you strengthen and build your practice with careful attention and timely response to your online reviews

 

Here are some of the essential concepts for effectively managing your online status:

 

  • Your reputation lives in two places: online and in-person. Pay attention to both daily. Few things have a higher priority for doctors…concern for their professional reputation is hard earned and constantly protected in their daily work. Physicians need no reminder of the “in-person” part. But the “online” part—which is often out-of-sight-out-of-mind—deserves equal concern and attention.

  • What’s online can hurt you and it can help you. The Internet is the home of “digital word-of-mouth.” Comments—either good or bad—tend to be seen as a form of endorsement, crowd sourcing, or social proof. Patient recommendations and testimonials can, and often do, significantly influence the decision process and provider selection of other patients.

  • The Internet never forgets. Never. It’s frustrating to think that user-generated comments often remain online (and available) even when they are incorrect, inaccurate, and often undated. Because things are “continuously available” online is further reason to keep your figurative stethoscope on this vital sign.