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Care and Feeding of Doctor Online Presence, Reputation and Brand

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

reputation management[A continuing series.] If you ask 10 doctors about their professional reputation, most will say something about “what other doctors think about me.” True enough. Colleague attitudes—doctors who know you and others who recognize your name—are an important consideration. But there's more to it.

From a business development perspective—your ability to attract more new patients and the cases you want—the general public, and prospective patients, are a much larger group. And they interpret a doctor’s reputation with a different mindset.

Why reputation building matters…

In the mind of the typical consumer, you have no reputation at the outset. Most of the time, that canvas is blank at the start of an individual’s care journey. They likely don’t know you, and you’re not as famous as you think.

  • Eight out of 10 times (maybe more) your online presence IS your public reputation
  • “Online presence” is nearly interchangeable with “professional reputation” and “brand”
  • The public (patient/shopper) forms a mental picture largely by what they discover online
  • You are in command of reputation building by proactively shaping your online presence

The value of building and growing your personal brand online is multifaceted. There are, of course, the practical benefits of personal profit, professional development and job satisfaction. In addition, a strong online presence opens the door to new connections on various levels—public, personal and professional.

Deliberate and well-planned reputation building establishes or extends an authoritative position of credibility, brand value and positive differentiation. This environment engenders trust and thus encourages an individual to move closer to a provider selection.

One out of three prospective patients…

A doctor’s online presence—particularly physician ratings and patient comments—has a significant influence factor in a patient’s choice of a provider or hospital. If an empowered patient doesn’t find you via an Internet search, you’re not considered because, to them, you don’t exist. That could be as much as much as 80 percent—or eight out of 10 people—who search online regarding healthcare need.

What’s more, online physician reviews have a dramatic, go/no-go impact. One out of three prospective patients who use review sites select providers with positive ratings. Conversely, a slightly higher percentage of prospects do not select a doctor when patient reviews are negative.

The good news and the other good news…

Perhaps the strongest advantage of a “blank canvas” starting point in the battle for consumer awareness is that you are the primary portrait artist. You can readily present the honest and accurate information that forms your online presence, reputation and initial brand messaging. No one is better suited to present that message. And the downside of not having an online presence is… well, opportunity lost and no new business.

The additional good news is that there is relatively little hard-dollar cost. Yes, there is a continuing investment of time and effort. And some situations might require website, blog or social media improvements.

But regardless of the budget allowance, the Return-on-Investment, in public awareness, patient and professional referrals and new business development is exceptionally high.

Follow this series with the next installment titled: Creating a Stellar Online Presence, Reputation and Brand for Doctors. And, as additional reference, click through here to read 10 Ways to Build a Better Physician Reputation, and Physician Reputation: To Brag or Not to Brag.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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