Online Reputation Management for Medical Professionals

For physicians, the Internet is another vital sign that needs to be monitored constantly. One’s reputation is especially critical in the healthcare industry.

People use the web to become more educated consumers. Imagine what happens when they’re making important decisions about their health or that of their family. They can go online and research everything from symptoms and medical conditions to the field of doctors and specialists mostly highly recommended to treat them.

There are also scores of sites devoted solely to rating medical professionals, including RateMDsVitals and HealthGrades.

Almost everyone who has shopped for doctors online has seen complaints about terrible bedside manners, rude and inefficient staff — and even the quality of the decor in the office. Sometimes these qualities are connected to the actual level of care a patient receives; regardless if they are accurate or not, what appears online and in online reviews matters.

If the criticism concerns a treatment or procedure that went wrong, the impact can be devastating. Even one bad review can do a lot of damage to a practice that took years to build.

The only perception that prospective patients may have about the quality of care they can expect is what they see online. In a 2014 survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 35 percent of patients surveyed said they selected a physician based on good online ratings and 37 percent said they avoided physicians with bad ratings.

No medical professional is immune to the problem of bad online reviews. It extends to dentists, optometrists, physical therapists, chiropractors and support staff. People are just as careful when it comes to choosing the right veterinarian for their pets.

Everyone will get negative reviews. It’s how they respond that matters. There are ways to repair the damage.

Online reputation management services and reputation management software can deal with crisis situations.

If a negative commenter posts their name, it’s possible to contact them and discuss the issue. Sites like RateMDs will let a doctor respond to negative reviews. A well thought-out response can diffuse a potentially bad situation. And don’t forget the good comments. Responding to them as well can create more goodwill in the online community.

Most physician don’t have a lot of spare time to go exploring the web for bad reviews. But it’s important to monitor Google and other search engine results and see what kind of digital reputation they have. Doctors can take ownership of their online presence by maintaining up-to-date profiles on physician rating sites and on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media.

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