Digital Check-Up for Physicians: 10 Ways You Can Improve Your Online Reputation

September 6, 2018  |  By Elise Hamann


For physicians of every type, your online visibility plays an increasingly critical role in your practice’s success. Favorable reviews and ratings can help bring new patients through your door. Conversely, a negative online portrayal can do just the opposite.

 According to a patient survey from the Journal for the American Medical Association:

  • 7 out of 10 patients will begin their doctor search using online reviews
  • Nearly 60% of consumers say that doctor-rating sites are “somewhat” or “very important”

Given the importance of your online reputation, it may be time for a much-needed digital check-up. Follow these 10 essential tips to ensure your online reputation is serving you and your practice well.

Tip #1: Avoid digital neglect. Failing to actively monitor online reviews and ratings is arguably the single most destructive force in online reputation management. Be sure you are actively monitoring online reviews and ratings, or appoint someone else to do so on a regular basis.

Tip #2: Strike the right tone. If responding to negative reviews, don’t focus on the problem. Stick to the solution; either one that you have already implemented or one that you plan to work toward. Briefly acknowledge the issue, then move on. Above all, avoid emotional statements (as they can often sound defensive) and when possible, discuss issues from a general and unbiased standpoint -- for example, cite office policies or procedures, or third-party medical guidelines and recommendations.

TIp #3: Keep in mind HIPAA and patient privacy. Take care to ensure your reply to a review (positive or negative) does not reveal any personal details around who a patient is or the medical issue he or she may be facing. Best to speak in general terms and if necessary, offer a way to follow up privately.

Tip #4: Ensure consistency in your business listing. Did you know 73% of people lose trust in businesses that exhibit inconsistent location details? Such inconsistencies can lead to frustration -- for example, new patients getting lost en route to their first appointment.  

More than likely, your practice is already listed in multiple places online -- and it’s up to you to ensure the correct NAP (name, address & phone number) across ALL platforms. To make sure this is done correctly, you may want to consider Business Listing Automation services like Yext or Moz.

Tip #5: Never post fake reviews. Refrain from ever paying for patient reviews or asking employees to post. Many sites now have algorithms designed to electronically screen for false reviews.

Tip #6: Go ahead and ask! Positive reviews are worth their weight in gold -- so don’t be shy about giving existing patients an occasional nudge. Before doing so, be sure they have an easy way to provide such feedback. Create a review page on your website, and drive reviewers  to your priority review sites through your eNewsletters, customer emails, or social media.

Tip #7: Mitigate extreme reviews. An extremely negative, false or unsubstantiated review is posted can be very damaging. You may want to consider a consulting service such as Guaranteed Removals to intervene and ensure its removal.  

Tip #8: Set up a Google alert. If monitoring your on your own reviews, be sure to set up a Google alert. This helps notify you every time your name (or practice name) is mentioned in a physician review.

Tip #9: Consider a reputation-management firm. No time to manage and monitor? You may want to consider a paid service to monitor brand reputation sites such as those run by Healthgrades and Yelp. This is especially helpful for larger practices with multiple locations.

Tip #10: Don’t stress. Industry research shows that most doctor reviews are positive. About 75% of the time, negative reviews are about things like wait times, grumpy receptionists or parking—things can easily be addressed.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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