80% of all internet users search online for medical information, including information about local medical providers. When it comes to finding a local healthcare provider, 77% of patients use search prior to booking an appointment and 90% of adults 18-24 years of age say they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks. For physicians, these statistics re-emphasize the value of not only being visible online, but also the importance of managing their online reputation. Potential patients are looking to the internet for information and resources and it's important for physicians and their practice to be visible when these searches occur.
Below are five tips for managing your online medical reputation:
- "Google" yourself: Type your name in the search bar, press enter and see what comes up. What are some of the top results? For most physicians, the top results will consist of online review sites. Those physicians more active on social media may see their social profiles appear on the first page (due to strong authority rankings) such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. By searching under your name, you get an idea of what potential patients are seeing when they research possible healthcare providers.
- Claim your physician profiles: Claim your profile on review sites like Vitals, Healthgrades or MD.com. These sites typically offer freemium services (free service with paid upgrades) and it's a great way for physicians to get their practice's information online and help with increasing online visibility.
- Solicit reviews from satisfied patients: Patients who have a negative experience with a practice or during a procedure are far more likely to go online and post a review. Unfortunately for physicians, this often creates a misconception about their practice or services. When patients are leaving your practice, have your front desk staff ask about their experience and encourage the satisfied patients to help spread the word to the community about the great care they received.
- Learn to embrace criticism: One of the biggest benefits to social media is the ability for businesses to respond to their consumers in "real-time". If a patient has a bad experience and posts some negative comments or reviews about your practice, don't take it as a slight, but use it as an opportunity to repair the damages. In most cases, your patient will be extremely appreciative that you not only saw their comments, but took the time to address their concerns. Taking action in this manner will typically provoke a public response from the previously dis-satisfied patient acknowledging you have righted their wrong!
- Produce quality content: Content has become extremely important when it comes to marketing your practice online. Producing unique, quality content that provides educational value to patients and potential patients will also help in strengthening your online reputation. When potential patients conduct searches on healthcare providers, your content may be what leads them to schedule an appointment. Good content will enable you to become a local expert within the market and a quality source for educational information in the community.
Managing your profiles, monitoring what is being said about you or your practice online and content production can all be time consuming activities, but these are vital to the success of your practice. As more consumers turn to the internet for information about healthcare providers, ignoring these channels will prove detrimental to your online medical reputation and ultimately your business.