What do your patients say about you? For a medical practice, a healthy reputation means growth potential and successful physician marketing, but there is more to it than just fighting off the critics. Doctors need to look for ways to cultivate their online reputations.
Online reputation management is a growing industry, but it is not necessary to hire a firm unless you need to repair significant damage. Consider some simple ways to protect and enhance the online reputation of the practice.
Ongoing monitoring of social media and review sites is a part of responsible reputation management. A negative review immediately creates an impact, so the sooner someone is aware of the problem, the better. Monitor sites like Vitals, Healthgrades, RateMDs, UCompareHealthcare and even Yelp for both positive and negative reviews. When a patient has a positive experience with your practice, ask them to share their experience with the community by posting a review.
Respond to the Critics
Practices should respond to negative reviews in a positive, not defensive, way. When posting a response, make sure to avoid any HIPAA violation regarding patient privacy. Software Advice points out that no matter what the reviewer says, you cannot publicly acknowledge them as a patient. Avoid specific references to a treatment plan or diagnosis, as well.
You can contact the patient via phone and try to resolve the issue if you know who it is, but do not send them an email using the address listed in the review. If you are able to fix the problem, ask the patient to delete the negative review or post another that is positive to counteract it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Legal Action
If the negative comments are libelous or defaming, do whatever is necessary to remove them even if it means legal action. TraverseLegal explains that defamation against medical practices is rampant on the Internet. One well placed comment can negate thousands of dollars spent of physician marketing, too.
Practices should have a plan in place should a libelous review arise that includes hiring a lawyer that specializes in Internet defamation cases.
Cultivate a Positive Internet Presence
Leveraging social media is one way a practice can build a positive Internet presence. Create pages on all the mainstream social networking sites and post to them often. Provide engaging content about trending healthcare topics like managing chronic disease, or showcase the state of the art technology your practice utilizes. Become the local authority within your community for your specialty.
A physician’s reputation is sometimes all they have, especially when just starting out. One mishandled issue, whether true or not, can takes years to repair. Staying proactive about reputation management is just smart business.