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Beyond the Basics: Creating a Stellar Online Presence for Physician Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

"online reputation management" text on the street[A continuing series.] The previous installment of this article, Care and Feeding of Doctor Online Presence, Reputation and Brand, describes the connected relationship of presence, reputation and brand. Quite obviously, the indispensible foundation for reputation building excellence is a consistently high level of patient satisfaction.

When patients are pleased or satisfied with the healthcare service they receive—more than just positive outcomes—they are inclined to tell others (word-of-mouth), provide testimonials (if appropriate), and/or make personal referrals.

The basic communications platforms include the practice website, blog, Facebook page and other social media tools. In addition, a high level of patient satisfaction is fuel for these and other demonstrations of social proof in healthcare marketing and advertising.

Beyond the basics…

Managing your reputation and online presence is something of a constantly moving target. Our previous articles in this series (several are listed below) provide an overview. But here are some of the important considerations for moving beyond the basics and creating a stellar presence.

Make Google your best friend. Far and away, the search giant Google is the most important online discovery bridge for patients. Connect with Google My Business and create your practice listings via every available Google face including Google Search, Google Maps and Google Plus.

Get comfortable with physician review and rating sites. Informed and empowered patients are drawing information (and tasting your reputation) by way of dozens of large, reputable and easily searchable doctor review sites. Healthgrades, Vitals, ZocDoc and RateMDs are a few examples.

Many providers dislike review/rating sites, and, admittedly, the systems in play are “less than perfect” for many reasons. Nevertheless, patients use them and, like it or not, they’re not going to go away. The best approach is to get acquainted, so here are a few important things to know, as you get comfortable.

  • Patient comments and physician ratings are far more likely to be positive than negative.
  • Physicians can encourage patients to use rating sites. Some practices make iPads available in the office or at the checkout desk.
  • Patient feedback can reveal otherwise unreported (and genuine) issues to be addressed.
  • Many doctors and practices enjoy the feedback of patients they have cared for; contributing to professional satisfaction.
  • Many providers have “upped their game” due to, or with the help of, reviews and ratings.
  • In the aggregate, studies point to improved outcomes and quality of care.

Reply, respond and/or react. Whenever possible, investigate and follow-up with both positive and negative online comments. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate responsiveness and resolve a problem.

The patient public is wired. Have and maintain an active social media strategy to create a practice voice. The best uses of social media tend to be engaging dialogues. Start and sustain interesting and valuable conversations.

Your Internet presence and social media voice are primary elements, and often, the sum of what prospective patients know about you and your professional reputation. Fortunately, the interactive process—that which collectively becomes the online presence, reputation and brand for doctors—is one that ultimately benefits both the patient and the practitioner.

For more on this topic, see these articles from our free reference library:

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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