In today’s digital age, it is crucial for healthcare professionals to learn about online reputation management, not only to stay relevant but also to attract prospective patients.
It is an efficient way to increase patient satisfaction, helping them understand how you can provide solutions to their varying health needs according to your specialization.
Understanding Online Reputation Management
In a nutshell, online reputation management (ORM) is the process of managing the digital resources that highlight your practice or professional profile online.
It helps in gauging how efficient these links and resources are in bringing patients in.
ORM can also help repair a problematic online record by helping the practice address negative reviews online and providing solutions to gain more positive reviews.
There are different elements that make up one’s online reputation. Social media platforms, search engine results, and website management are just a few of them.
Regardless of whether you’re repairing a negative impression or building your reputation from the ground up, the best way to gain traction in establishing your online presence is to position yourself from your potential patients’ perspective.
Ask yourself, who would a potential patient prefer: a medical practice with a stellar online reputation that offers various resources and a fast response rate or a virtually unknown practice with nothing but an online listing and negative reviews backing up its existence?
First, establish a positive narrative about your practice, expertise, and medical excellence; second, use this as leverage to attract the influx of both new and loyal customers you aim to reach.
ORM is far beyond merely having a couple of good reviews here and there. Its central premise is to drive the public’s opinion about your medical practice in a positive light and boost its online exposure.
Nearly every facet of marketing has a direct impact on you and your medical practice’s reputation. Learning how to juggle these areas (such as increased patient interaction and dealing with negative reviews head-on) is complex but crucial.
While providing care and treatment is still your primary role as a healthcare professional, remember that living in the digital age requires you to take steps to market your practice.
The goal is to proactively ask your patients to leave reviews on your review profiles, to respond to their queries, and interact with them, all to improve your overall internet presence.
RepuGen is a robust reputation management solution that helps healthcare providers acquire more positive online reviews, and gives them the ability to retain and attract more patients to their practice.
RepuGen’s goal is to help healthcare providers take control of their online reputation, to accurately reflect how their patients really feel about them. A proprietary study based on 800 providers shows that 95% of patients are satisfied with care, yet these providers were seeing an average online reputation rating of only 3/5 stars. This shows that, without proactive management, your online reputation is likely to be inaccurately portrayed by a few unhappy patients. Since 80% of patients use online reviews to select their healthcare providers, it is vital for healthcare providers to ensure that their online reputation is accurately showing how satisfied their patients are.
RepuGen helps healthcare providers effectively manage their online reputation with a proactive approach by improving the accuracy of their online reviews,providing them with the tools they need to improve care, and assisting in marketing the practice to attract more patients.
The Importance of Online Reputation Management
Anyway, now that an understanding of what ORM is and what it entails has been established, it’s time to delve further into its relevance.
1. Building Trust
As a healthcare professional, the primary foundation on which your entire practice is built upon is your competence in providing care and treatment.
Meanwhile, for 84% of marketers, trust is the foundation for future marketing efforts.
Taking both these factors into consideration can be challenging to establish patient trust and medical authority if your practice has an onslaught of mixed or negative reviews online.
Entrusting your business to marketing companies that leave false positive reviews doesn’t help the solution, as well.
Considering this practice is anything but hidden, you can be sure that your potential patients will be able to confirm a review’s legitimacy.
Instead, invest in earning genuine reviews and recommendations from credible sources.
2. Establishing Yourself
Establishing yourself as an authority in the field of your medical expertise is an essential step in boosting your online reputation
After all, statistics point out that 80% of social media users refer to digital resources in search of information about specific practitioners.
This only supports the fact that while still effective, word of mouth is slowly being outmoded as a reliable form of marketing to reach one’s target demographic and improve foot traffic.
In the end, what you seek to achieve is to craftily combine traditional marketing efforts with carefully calculated digital marketing campaigns to widen your reach.
What’s even more fascinating about the internet is its efficiency as a medium to put out a trove of data immediately in the form of easy-to-digest chunks of content, such as videos, infographics, and written content.
This method of content sharing serves to answer questions quickly and help people make well informed health-related decisions.
Treat online marketing as a passive method of setting up a resource to help people locate your practice indefinitely.
3. Communicating With Patients
The majority of online users today rely on social media to engage with brands, whether it’s for services or just gaining general knowledge. We have the prevalence of the internet and portable digital device usage to thank for that.
Thus, as a healthcare practitioner, it is one of your primary responsibilities to answer general questions about health-related products and services.
Doing so, establishes your authority and online renown. As an added benefit, you’ll be pleased to find that a lot of patients feel comfortable in this mode of communication.
That’s because social media platforms give them a neutral territory to address questions and concerns.
What’s more, it also allows other loyal and potential patients access to the same information as a silent reader or an observer of your chosen social media channel.
It will enable you to engage more people at a time instead of dealing with their issues individually.
It also opens an avenue for patients to feel more comfortable to contact you if they have further questions that need answering before they finally decide on setting an appointment.
These are not the only benefits that social media engagement provides. It isn’t as time-consuming as returning phone calls, and it reserves time for you to ponder and respond better to criticism.
4. Improved Search Engine Ratings
Recent statistics suggest that 94% of online users refer to websites that land on the first page of Google search results, with the number dipping significantly lower after each page.
This just proves the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), not only for those in the medical field but also for everyone who strives to better their online reputation.
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut formula in SEO, which is why companies usually hire professional firms to do it for them.
However, there seems to be a correlation between easily digestible content on websites and keywords that boost a website’s ranking in search engine result pages.
Seasoned SEO experts also suggest that customer reviews increase the likelihood of boosting a website’s rank, as well.
Regardless, we can be sure of one thing: improving your SEO standing can significantly impact your online reputation. It also makes your practice more accessible to a broader demographic.
5. Protecting Against Reputation Damage
It has been reported that 41% of companies with an adverse reputation event have experienced losses of revenue and brand value.
This statistic is truly disconcerting, especially for new practices that have yet to create an established online reputation.
One’s prevailing positive standing also plays a crucial role.
A new practice dealt with a negative review is more prone to suffer from incredible losses than one with prior positive repute and authority.
Experiencing an influx of combined positive and negative reviews is part of the natural process of a company’s online existence. Still, supporting your practice with an armor of positive reviews will definitely help your cause.
Potential patients may assume that a couple of negative reviews amidst a collection of positive ones are simply isolated cases.
Having pristine reviews, though, is still ideal and will give you better ground to respond to future negative comments.
6. Knowing What to Improve
It’s understandable how it can be demoralizing to receive negative reviews as the owner of your practice.
Just keep in mind that the information and insight you can obtain from your own critiques are invaluable in your path to further improve the services and experience you provide to your patients.
Negative feedback also paves the way for you to perform a thorough assessment of not only your services but your online reputation, as well.
How Can Doctors Assess Their Online Reputation?
Knowing how to perform a self-assessment online is an essential life skill.
It will allow you to tap into the trove of information that pertains to you and your practice in the digital world. It will also give you insight into how the public perceives you and manifests your potential reputation.
The same theory applies to your practice, as you can be sure that the results of your quick search are mostly what your potential patients will base on.
Hence, consider this exercise a crucial step before you set upon the development of your marketing strategy.
1. Checking Website Rankings
As previously discussed, your website’s ranking has a significant bearing on your online reputation.
Knowing your current standing in search engine result pages is as simple as doing a quick search for you or your practice’s name. This is called a direct search.
Ideally, you would want to be listed as the first result. You might want to take a look into how your website is being penalized if it has ranked lower than the premium spot.
This usually occurs as the result of the improper use of keywords or on the occasion of disseminating inaccurate or irrelevant information.
The best-case scenario is having higher-ranked links associated with your practice or for pages that you directly control. Ideally, you’ll want to see social media profiles, online business listings, and other related pages and content.
Doctors who have efficiently indexed websites might also be ranked among the top three results when doing a more broad or general search.
Attaining the top spot in these searches is the most preferred ranking, as it will garner plenty of attention. Unfortunately, this won’t be the case for most start-ups.
2. Reviewing Aggregated Reviews
Also known as snippets, aggregated reviews are a collection of reports that garner an average score.
For instance, receiving four five-star reviews and a single three-star feedback will give an aggregate rating of 4.6 over 5.
You’ll see these ratings listed under your practices name on Google, but you’ll also find them featured on various review sites.
You should consider looking into the most popular review sites online for doctors and businesses like HealthGrades, WebMD, RateMDs, and Vitals.
Take note of your aggregate ratings across each website to determine the avenues you need to improve positive feedback in.
As you would think, attaining a higher online reputation requires stellar results. Fortunately, there are efficient methods to boost your ratings, especially on individual review sites.
Asking for positive feedback from your loyal patients, for instance, on a specific review site where your score might be trailing is a tried-and-tested technique.
This will allow your average rating on this site to increase over time, giving you an opportunity to focus on the net review site that probably needs a boost.
Don’t underestimate the potential benefits and consequences of aggregated reviews.
Most consumers use this as a deciding factor on whether or not to engage with a business or service provider.
In the end, having a mixture of positive and negative reviews is better than a conglomeration of negative reviews.
Getting new, updated positive feedback will also give you an opportunity to cover older negative remarks on your practice.
If you’re looking for an easy way to analyze your aggregated reviews, RepuGen, offers a free reputation analysis report that allows healthcare providers to generate a comprehensive report of their aggregate review ratings across the most relevant review sites to healthcare.
3. Understanding Google Knowledge Graph
Have you ever conducted a search about a particular business or establishment and noticed a box appear on your screen’s right-hand side?
This box will contain the name of the business, as well as its contact information, operating hours, and a map based on the provided business address.
This is known as the Google Knowledge Graph, and it is an excellent opportunity for doctors to tap into and increase their online presence and reputation.
The most considerable advantage of this Google feature is the chance to provide every avenue of contact information to your prospective patients right away without the need for them to visit your website and search for your contact page.
It can even allow them to click on your phone number right away if they have conducted their search on their mobile device.
Another notable benefit is its display of your most recent reviews. It can attract and form a positive first impression on your potential patients immediately.
The challenge, though, is how to uncover this feature.
The Google Knowledge Graph is only granted to businesses with optimized websites and substantial online listings via third-party directories.
Another crucial advantage is being listed on Google My Business in order to be considered.
Unlocking this feature might be challenging, but it is definitely one of the first goals you want to attain, given the boost it gives to one’s online reputation.
4. Checking Social Media
Search engine results are, indeed, essential, but so is social media.
Statistics show that over 40% of consumers report that social media affects how they deal with health issues.
In fact, 90% of 18 to 24-year-olds view the healthcare information shared by others on social media as credible and trustworthy.
These numbers simply prove the importance of managing a social media profile as a healthcare practice.
By establishing a strong social media presence, you are also opening other avenues for patient engagement and advertising.
What’s more, most social media platforms are free to use, even those that offer exclusive professional business pages. Some platforms even allow you to share content, such as videos and reliable infographics.
Meanwhile, other platforms are better suited for one-on-one engagement and personal messages.
Twitter, for example, allows you to keep patients apprised of daily updates regarding your available services and treatments.
What About Social Media and Reputation Management?
Following this, remember that each social media platform is unique, and as such, each offers a slightly different advantage compared to others depending on your specific practice.
For instance, cosmetic surgeons might find Instagram as a better platform, while general practitioners could fare better using Facebook.
69% of Facebook users are adults. 44% of them are women, while 56% are men. Of these users, 32% are aged 25 to 34 years old.
The central premise of this platform is to help patients gain a better understanding of your brand and provide them with a convenient way to engage with you.
This platform allows you to easily send direct messages, convey updates about your practice, and expand your reach through Facebook’s targeted ads.
It also offers a unique business program that enables you to invest in several marketing avenues to boost brand awareness further.
The platform also has a strong standing in local SEO, which is ideal for local doctors.
This is why you might have noticed your Facebook page among the top results when you were conducting your online reputation audit earlier through direct searching.
It is definitely an excellent sign, too, as it’s a social media platform that you can control.
Another social media platform that continues to be an excellent avenue for healthcare practitioners is Instagram.
With 200 million users visiting at least one business profile every day, Instagram offers a high likelihood of boosting patient reach and engagement.
One significant factor that sets Instagram apart from Facebook is that it is a highly visual platform. It relies primarily on audio and visual content to seek their users’ attention.
Healthcare practices can post photos, videos, and quick snippets of their day using the platform’s primary features, like Instagram stories.
It also allows practices to add their website URL to their Instagram bio for quick and easy access.
Did you know that Twitter is currently the most popular platform for healthcare communication?
Sharing information through this social media platform allows high-quality engagement between healthcare practices and their patients
In fact, we have found a lot of doctors using Twitter as a platform for teaching and directing patients towards resources that can assist them with their particular concerns.
There are also a lot of people who use Twitter to stay updated with the latest posts of their preferred practices.
By far, Twitter is one of the best social media resources to convey information about healthcare practices in easily understandable and concise blurbs.
- 24/7 Availability
Like other social media platforms, Twitter runs actively 24/7. This allows your patients to send direct messages anytime, and you may respond to them at your convenience.
It is also the best platform to share immediate updates that your patients can receive in real-time without any unnecessary effort and use of resources.
- Avoiding Medical Jargon
The limited character count that Twitter provides encourages healthcare professionals to be concise and conscious of their choice of words.
This serves as a powerful reminder for doctors to avoid using medical jargon when communicating with their patients.
You can simply direct your patients towards more comprehensive resources if needed.
This process helps both loyal and potential patients feel more comfortable and confident to reach out to you and refer to the information you’re providing.
Above all else, Twitter is a phenomenal networking tool for healthcare professionals all over. You can connect with other providers and follow their accounts for pertinent information.
It also offers a high likelihood of sharing your connections with your audience to get a more significant following.
Even if you choose to create a private Twitter account for your personal use, you can still utilize this to follow other profiles, especially those of the leading experts in your field to stay updated and further improve your own practice.
- Simple Communication
Compared to all of the other top social media platforms, Twitter offers the most straightforward avenue for conversation.
Users are not even required to follow your account to comment or share your posts.
You can simply opt to make your account private if you want to make it accessible exclusively to those who are following you, if necessary.
This opportunity to reach a significantly wider audience can definitely impact your practice’s reach.
- Cultivating Reviews
Finally, Twitter provides the best advantage to develop reviews and positive feedback.
Your patients will be able to leave concise information regarding your practice that you can leverage to your benefit.
It also allows healthcare practitioners to share their positive feedback to further its reach, or even share it directly to their website.
Cons of Using Twitter
- Too Much Availability
Perhaps the most pressing concern users have with Twitter is how accessible you’ll be as a healthcare provider.
Since anyone, even your international audience, can comment or share your posts, you’ll be opening yourself up on a larger scale, which can overwhelm and stretch one too thin.
Prepare yourself to be overburdened with spam comments and bot accounts.
Understandably, this also limits your control over what people can say about you and your business.
This leads other people, and unfortunately, even competitors, to create dummy accounts for malicious intent.
- Difficult to Get Noticed
This wider audience also means billions of active users and potential following.
It has forced Twitter to prioritize profiles with a higher following, with their posts and comments showing up first on homepages and other profiles.
Having limited engagement on your posts will make it less likely for them to be as noticeable, given this constant deluge of information. This remains true even if you were to use well-chosen hashtags and keywords.
Moreover, this makes it unbelievably challenging to establish a strong foothold when it comes to online reputation management in this platform.
How to Manage Your Online Reputation
There are plenty of reliable methods that you can use to improve your online reputation. Here are some do’s and don’ts to remember.
1. Proactively Collect Feedback
- 68% of your potential patients could form an opinion about you by reading one to six reviews. That number jumps to 90% if there are 10 or more reviews available on your website.
- Proactively collecting feedback from your patients is one of the best ways to ensure you can boost your visibility and reliability.
- There’s a professional way to gather patient reviews.
- Rather than forcing or requiring your patients to do so, it is better to talk to them instead and be clear with your purpose as to why you’re requesting feedback.
- Don’t forget to provide them with the fastest and most convenient method of providing their testimonial or recommendation.
- You can also strive to improve patient relationships and simply prompt them to leave a review as a small favor.
2. Use RepuGen
Using an online reputation management system like RepuGen is, in our experience, the most convenient method that yields the best results.
Used by thousands of healthcare providers, you’ll improve practice operations, time management, patient retention, and more.
Monitoring patient satisfaction and managing your online reputation has never been more straightforward with the tool’s smooth user-interface.
RepuGen allows you to easily improve your online reputation, by streamlining the review solicitation process and giving you the tools to intercept any unsatisfied patients.
RepuGen also gives you access to streamlined reports of any online activity related to your practice. Set reputation goals and use these as your gauge to determine your development.
It also improves overall patient experience, especially with its two-way SMS feature that simplifies communication between the practice and the patient.
Another notable feature is the all-in-one dashboard, which allows you to track performance, appointment details, and send direct messages to your audience.
Everything that you will ever need in order to manage your online reputation management, will be accessible with RepuGen..
3. Intercept Unhappy Patients
In a perfect and ideal world, every patient that leaves your practice will be fully treated and satisfied. Unfortunately, this utopia simply doesn’t exist.
It is guaranteed that there’ll be a couple of negative reviews down the line.
Don’t worry; these detrimental remarks can work in your favor by validating and legitimizing the favorable ones.
When you do encounter a truly unhappy patient, it is still best to intercept them with recovery immediately after they have left their review.
Programs like RepuGen allow you to contact such patients as soon as possible to rectify their experience, so they do not feel inclined to voice their frustrations on public review sites.
Such tools notify you in real-time of the poor rating that you can leverage to connect with the patient and address their concerns so that you can promptly perform service recovery.
Rectifying such issues will improve the likelihood of positive reviews in the future. If you’re fortunate, they can even update their review and improve your rating.
4. Objectively Respond to Reviews
The reviews you receive regarding your practice should never go unanswered, especially if they are negative.
If a patient expresses concern, you must reply objectively, in a kind and professional manner.
Keep in mind that how you respond to criticism plays an important role in public opinion. Don’t forget to ensure that your response also falls within the HIPAA guidelines and related legalities.
5. Train Staff in Customer Service
Medical practitioners lead very hectic schedules, and as such, it is the staff that usually engages with patients. Make sure to adequately equip your team with proper customer service and ORM training.
Remember, your staff is an extension of your practice. They are the physical representation of the service that you want to provide. Therefore, they must also be confident in dealing with patient queries and concerns.
1. Ask Patients to Remove Reviews
Asking a patient to get rid of their negative review is sure to leave a lasting impression, especially if their feedback came from a sincere and honest intention.
As mentioned, your best option in dealing with such feedback is to address the complaints head-on with a solution that meets their needs and preferences.
By doing the right thing, there is a high chance that the patient itself will rectify the review on his own.
2. Always Make Public Responses
We understand why there are a lot of medical practitioners who feel compelled to respond to every review online, but that’s not always the case.
Keep in mind that there are specific instances where doing so will lead you to violate HIPAA regulations.
It is during these times that it is ideal to respond offline instead, in the privacy of your own office or clinic.
3. Get Defensive
It is easy to get defensive and personally worked up when dealing with what you feel are negative attacks towards your practice.
Still, letting your emotions out remains to be one of the most unprofessional ways of dealing with criticism.
Instead, take a few moments to collect your thoughts and formulate a more rational and constructive response.
Remember, there’s always a potential patient monitoring your activity online.
Online Reputation Management for Doctors: Final Thoughts
Online reputation management is an essential part of any medical practice.
Unfortunately, establishing an impressive and credible online presence takes a lot of patience, hard work, and resources.
This is where ORM programs like RepuGen become highly essential and convenient.. They provide clear, accurate, and concise data-based reports, and they also offer a plethora of patient-engagement methods and tools.
Social media platforms and other online avenues must also be utilized to their best potential. In doing so, we’re sure that you’ll find your efforts rewarded in the end.