Online reputation can make or break your medical practice. If negative reviews are showing when potential patients search for your practice, you could be in trouble.
Take a minute to Google your brand name. According to a survey, nearly 75 percent of the US population Google their name, and almost half of them don’t like what they read on the Internet. That’s alarming!
Whether you are a large, established medical practice brand attracting hundreds of patients every month or a young doctor out of medical college, every healthcare professional has an online reputation to maintain.
Often, your potential and existing patients will form opinions about your medical practice based on online content they read before even meeting you in person. In fact, according to a survey, almost 81 percent of patients conduct online research on healthcare providers they’ve been referred to, and 90 percent will choose another provider if they don’t like what they read online.
A bad online reputation has the potential to adversely affect your brand image as well as profitability. Once something negative is published on the Internet about your brand, it will leave a mark. The sooner you begin building and fixing your online reputation, the sooner you will start seeing positive results.
Our experts have put together ten practical tips to ensure online reputation management for doctors:
1. Audit Your Brand Name
To build a positive online reputation, it is important to understand what you up against and have an understanding of what exists about the brand online. Most searches for hospitals and healthcare providers begin with the Internet. Google your brand name and scan the first five pages. Take a good look at all the relevant information about you. Note the negative, dated as well as positive content.
2. Use Social Networks to Your Advantage
A persistent and engaging social media presence includes proactively sharing content and participating in online conversations. You can set up and receive brand alerts via Google Alerts, which will notify you every time your brand is mentioned in any discussion online. These alerts will help you respond and participate in conversations involving your brand. Negative comments can damage your reputation if left alone, especially when they are originating from social media. It is important to take proactive measures to safeguard your online reputation.
3. Tell Your Story
Now that you have ensured an active presence on social networks, it is time to build your brand image and strengthen your online presence. Make a posting schedule that will keep you active on online platforms and create positive content on a blog. When you post content, present your brand and tell a story. The goal of sharing content should be to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. Share relevant and informational content that generates responses from the target audience and helps the content rank higher with search engines.
4. Encourage Patients to Post Reviews
The best approach to safeguard and strengthen online reputation management for doctors is to be aggressive in promoting positive content and bringing down negative ones. You must encourage patients and employees to post positive reviews online. The goal is to have more positive content than negative so that the unfavorable feedback is diluted by the happy experiences of patients. You can monitor online reviews about your practice by using tools like Social Mention and Google Alerts. By monitoring online reviews, you will be better-equipped to mitigate the impact of negative content and turn it into a positive impact by responding professionally and quickly.
5. Never Ignore Negative Reviews
Despite your best efforts, sometimes a patient may become upset and end up posting a bad review of your services. Negative reviews of your practice, if ignored, may result in a significant loss of patients and reputation. Once a scathing review is posted, if it was your mistake, contact the reviewer and offer to resolve the issue offline. A sincere apology can be the secret trick to diffuse delicate situations. Do not ever allow emotions to take control of the situation as you may end up saying things you may regret later. The best approach is to stay calm and to try to take the conversation offline. Often such patients, after their complaints are heard and resolved, not only become your loyal patients but also recommend your services to their family and friends.
6. Earn Patients’ Respect and Trust
The modern patient relies on online content to determine whom to trust. The majority of patients choose one provider over another based on his or her online reputation. High-quality patient care is just the starting point; it is expected from you and part of a bigger picture. The stakes are much higher when it comes to delivering an amazing experience at every step of patients’ journey – from the point of search up until they are in your waiting room.
7. Listen to Your Patients
Social networks are an effective way to hear the unedited voice of your target audience, especially the ones who are not very happy with your services. The idea is to pay attention to the feedback about your services and reputation. When you listen to what your patients are saying about your practice, you do more than just fix the problem. You will try to repair the fundamental issues that are creating problems in the first place.
8. Encourage Staff to Provide Excellent Service
Often, angry patients do not complain upfront – they just stop coming to your practice. Such patients, in addition to not coming back to your practice, will tell their family and friends about their bad experience with your staff. The ripple effect of one upset patient can be detrimental to your business and reputation. Make sure your staff is trained in providing outstanding patient care. Not only will your team members help improve your reputation, but their strategic presence on social networks will also help strengthen your position as a leader.
9. Create Long-Term Reputation Management Strategy
Even a team of highly trained staff cannot build or fix your reputation overnight. Online reputation management for doctors is a long-term process that requires consistent work. It is normal to become upset if your reputation management efforts do not yield results instantly, but it is important to remember that any work you put in now will help boost your reputation in the long run. Your long-term reputation management plans may include staff hiring and training, social media goals and patient care benchmarks. However, the main thing is to keep your goals realistic. You will need patience, time and the ability to stay level-headed.
10. Hire Reputation Management Professionals
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities involved in maintaining your online reputation, you are not alone. Many healthcare providers are turning to professional teams who handle online reputation management for doctors to help manage their online presence.
Reputation management is a specialized job, and people who can provide the required amount of expertise and attention are a great solution. Find a team of qualified professionals you can trust with your reputation.
Regardless of the size or specialty of a medical practice, monitoring brand mentions is essential to online reputation management for doctors. As a physician, your online reputation can position you as a leader in your niche and determine the success of your practice. You must also leverage the various online tools to safeguard your reputation from damaging content that you cannot control. Online reputation management for doctors is an investment that will pay off sooner or later. This is the reason most practitioners hire reputation management professionals to help them establish and maintain online reputation.
Simply put, if you are shooting for a fantastic 2020, an ORM plan is not optional; it is mandatory. Just as you maintain your personal image among family and friends, start managing your reputation online.