Choosing a physician can be a difficult decision; many patients look at online reviews when searching for a new doctor. Positive reviews can be a key way to attract new patients. A recent survey found that 70% of patients said online reviews played a crucial role in their process of selecting a clinician.
While patient reviews are likely not an accurate gauge of a physician’s competence, they do nonetheless have an impact in the online review-driven world we live in. For better or worse, today’s physicians need to pay attention to their online rankings and reputations.
“Physicians and providers who neglect their online reputation will struggle to compete,” says Patric Wiesmann, managing director and GM of health care & life sciences at Reputation.com, an online reputation management platform. “The most important thing that physicians can do is ask their patients for a review.”
5 steps to maintain a positive reputation
Maintaining a positive reputation is a combination of a few important steps, Wiesmann says. They include:
- Make sure patients are able to find you or your clinic or hospital via web and mobile search. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) is important.
- Reviews that are associated with your clinic must reflect the quality of care that you deliver.
- Ideally, you’ll want to have 10 or more reviews that have been written in the past 90 days.
- Use the feedback provided by online reviews to improve patient care and service.
- Ask early, ask often and make it easy for patients to leave you or your organization an online review.
How to ask for reviews
Jonathan Bruner, DO, compiles reviews from his patients and uses them on his website to attract new patients and to help build his online presence. “Attracting new patients is really important,” he says. “At the end of a patient visit, I ask them to leave a review. I let them know that those reviews are the No. 1 way that patients find out about us.”
Dr. Bruner, whose practice focuses on neuromusculoskeletal medicine, is the owner of Mobility Medicine, formerly located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with new offices opening soon in Tampa Bay, Florida. Dr. Bruner, who uses Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to post content, says he recognizes the importance of an online reputation and actively engages with patients when they leave a review or comment on any social media platform.
“I have alerts set up so that anytime a patient leaves a review, someone in the office knows and can respond quickly and appropriately,” he says.
However, monitoring and managing comments on multiple platforms can be time-consuming. Wiesmann recommends that physicians and healthcare companies use an online reputation management platform like Reputation.com, Defamation Defenders or Yext. These services offer users one single place to look over and respond to reviews. Officite offers AOA members a discount on its reputation management services.
“Health care organizations have a responsibility to actively manage their physicians’ online reputation to protect their personal and organizational brands, drive new business and retain existing patients,” Wiesmann says.
Managing bad reviews
The most challenging part of managing online reviews is that “you have no control over them,” Dr. Bruner says. “Anyone can write anything they want. The only control we have, as an office, is how we respond to those reviews.”
When there is a bad review, Dr. Bruner responds immediately. “I try my best to be understanding and to rectify any problems,” he says. “Seeing how the doctor responds will tell a lot about the care patients will actually receive.”
Bad reviews are often inevitable, but they can give doctors the opportunity to improve service and patient care, Wiesmann says.
“Physicians are able to elevate the patient experience by identifying where gaps are in their service and providing the necessary operational changes,” he says.