By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
A significant majority of prospective patients look online to research hospitals, doctors and medical practices before they select a provider…and long before they meet you in person. The digital pallet of online reputation management paints an image and shapes expectations in the consumer’s mind.
Nearly everyone—customers, buyers, and patients—envisions who you are based on the strength of the reputation they find online. And a large measure of what they find—and what they think about you—is based on patient/physician reviews and provider ratings.
Would-be patients tend to trust reviews of other consumers. Positive reviews impact the buyer’s selection of a doctor or hospital. And they develop a foundation of recognition and trust.
The most common reputation management mistakes…
Reputation is fast becoming a leading factor in the selection of healthcare providers. About one in five people who use the Internet rely on physician ratings. And reviews influence over 80 percent of choices and decisions. Pay attention to the familiar, and the biggest, names including Google Reviews, ZocDocs, Healthgrades, RateMDs, WebMD, Vitals.com and Yelp.
Fortunately, the provider or healthcare organization also contributes to this critically important message. Unfortunately, there are several common mistakes in reputation management that can make a critical difference for the facility, practice or practitioner. These include:
Mistake: Not monitoring the review sites. Everyone’s busy…and there are a zillion sites to track. But simple neglect—or being unaware—may be the most common, and most easily avoided mistake. Instead, establish a regular system to frequently visit the sites where you’re listed.
Mistake: Not embracing and improving reviews. A surprising number of physician directory and review listings are empty or incorrect. At a minimum, identify all sites and confirm (or correct) the basics of name, address, phone, hours, etc. Work to improve your status when the site contains rate-the-physician or consumer comments. (We can help with that if needed.)
Mistake: Failing to update your profile information. Above and beyond having the current NAP (Name, Address, Phone), many sites allow space for a practitioner profile. Create a simplified, and plain-language, curriculum vitae (CV) for additional professional particulars such as education, training, and community involvement.
Mistake: Not asking for patient comments. Many, if not most, patients will gladly provide online comments. And most of them will be positive. But the critical mistake is the failure to ask. Over the years, we’ve learned that “you gotta ask.” The process is also an effective reminder. But make your request verbally, provide a reminder card with URL details, and make it a regular step in the checkout desk routine.
Mistake: Not responding to patient comments. Good or bad, the online comments between and among patients are significant influence factors. Be prepared to reply quickly, respectfully and positively to all online notes, especially complaints. Simply “being heard” is valuable to the public, and constructive feedback benefits reputation.
Mistake: Being dismissive of angry complaints. A practice that appears to ignore difficult, angry or “strongly worded” issues is probably making matters worse. Individuals who are inclined to complain are passionate about something and (a) they need to feel that they are being heard, and (b) the practice needs to recognize the importance of the “voice of the customer.” Avoid the temptation to dismiss complaints as “off base,” “unreasonable reaction,” or “chronic complainer.” Instead, find a constructive path to acknowledge and deal with a problem…which may be more real than you appreciate.
Reputation management proactively tells your own story…
Quality care, consistently delivered with a positive patient experience, influences what the consumer/patient discovers in your office, and what you represent online. Have a system to contribute regularly to the online conversation. And routinely ask everyone to make a review, rating or comment.
Many doctors monitor the review sites personally, and surprisingly, the majority of comments and reviews tend to be positive, with better than 80 percent ranking as “very fair” or “fair.” We can help. Healthcare Success integrates with more than 45 online review sites, preserving and protecting your reputation for maximum patient interest, trust and satisfaction. Give us a call today.