It has been said that your reputation takes a lifetime to build and five minutes to ruin.
This is especially true for physicians, who now have to worry about their patients, their practices and what people are saying about them on social media and websites devoted entirely to reviews of healthcare professionals.
Unfortunately, many of the reviews are written by people who use sometimes arbitrary metrics to mete out endorsements, opinions, criticisms and critiques. The reviews often lack data, proof and substance.
And they matter.
According to research conducted by the National Research Corporation, 47 percent of consumers say they pay attention to your online physician reputation. To make matters worse, a whopping 80 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews, which are often written anonymously, as much as they do personal recommendations.
That’s why it’s important to proactively manage your online physician reputation. It will take strategy, persistence and some thick skin–but it will be worth it. Here five ways to manage your online physician reputation with integrity and class:
1) Own your identity
Most physician review websites allow doctors to register and claim their identities. This allows you to provide factual information about your practice, including your address, office hours and contact information. Once the site has verified your information, you may also be able to add marketing materials such as photos, videos and information about services.
It also allows you to respond–either publicly or privately–to the people who post reviews about you. The ability to respond to reviews can be a powerful tool to help protect your online physician reputation.
In the online world of public relations, silence in the face of criticism equates to guilt or indifference. When someone posts a negative review about you (justified or not), it’s important to respond.
The key to responding effectively is to remember that you are not talking to the person who wrote the review. You are responding so that others will see that you are a caring, engaged physician who respects your patients.
3) Keep it general
When responding to online criticism, it’s important to keep the information you share general. Resist the urge to set the record straight about individual case. Instead, focus on your practices, policies and commitment to ensuring that patients have a good experience when they visit you.
If someone has a personal situation that must be addressed, ask them to directly contact someone from your practice.
4) Be proactive
It is a fact of life that people who are dissatisfied with something are more likely to make their feelings public. This is often the case with physician review websites, which is why it’s a good idea to be proactive in seeking positive reviews.
Ask patients who are happy with their care to share their experiences online. A great way to do this is to email patients online satisfaction surveys. Not only will you be able to identify patients who might be willing to share their positive experiences, but you may also be able to identify people who might post negative reviews–and connect with them before they do.
5) Accept the inevitable
You are bound to receive negative reviews. It is an inevitable truth, and it is not the end of the world–especially if you stay calm, develop thick skin and manage the issues.
Don’t respond when you are angry. Instead, show you care, put the issue into context, outline any action you plan to take and then move on.
Don’t let the five minutes it takes to respond angrily to a review ruin the reputation you’ve spent a lifetime building.
Elliot Health System is proud of our reputation. Would you like to join us?
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Elliot Health System is a 296 bed hospital in Manchester, NH. With 12,831 admissions in 2017, Elliot is the busiest community hospital in New Hampshire. Our physicians performed over 111,000 ER and Urgent Care visits, 1,891 deliveries, 8,300 surgical visits and over 390,000 out-patient visits.
Elliot Health System
One Elliot Way
Manchester, NH 03103