How Online Reviews Are Impacting Your Medical Practice Reputation

October 12, 2012
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And what you can do to safeguard your image

From restaurants and hair stylists to dentists and plumbers, the online reviews and recommendations from other people—complete strangers even—impact all types of businesses. What used to only be possible over a cup of coffee can now be shared about your practice throughout the online space, including sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Yelp.

And what you can do to safeguard your image

From restaurants and hair stylists to dentists and plumbers, the online reviews and recommendations from other people—complete strangers even—impact all types of businesses. What used to only be possible over a cup of coffee can now be shared about your practice throughout the online space, including sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Yelp.

While positive reviews can help you secure new patient appointments, a few bad reviews can wreck your reputation, giving prospects a bad impression of your practice. Since negative comments tend to carry more weight, online reputation management becomes that much more critical. For this reason, it’s important that your practice takes a proactive approach to maintaining a positive image for your practice on the Web. Here’s how.

Create a Website

While having a Yelp listing and Facebook page are important for creating a buzz about your practice online, don’t underestimate the power of your practice website. Your website should be the foundation of your online image, the place where you can introduce your staff, establish credibility, offer patient education and talk about your services.  Take the time to create a site that serves as the face of your practice online; one that not only reflects your practice goals and values, but also compels your visitors to contact or visit your office.

Actively Monitor Online Conversations

As people talk about your practice online, you’ll want to be cognizant of what is being said about you. Google your practice regularly and scan the search results for unfavorable mentions. You should also set up alerts that notify you via email whenever your name or practice name is cited. In doing so, you can have a peace of mind knowing what content is being published about your practice online, and then respond accordingly if you do stumble across potentially harmful information.

Remember, not all negative reviews can be avoided, and it’s normal to acquire unfavorable comments from time to time. Take the time to listen to what your patients are saying, learn from their feedback and then take steps to improve and resolve issues as they arise.

Be Social

Don’t allow your patients to do all of the talking. Your practice should also have an engaging social media presence on leading social sites, such as Facebook and Google+. Find out where your patients are spending their time online and set up a community there. As you converse with your audience on a more human level, patients will begin to trust you and your ability to render quality, caring dental services.

Manage Online Reviews

Finally, focus on not only monitoring your reputation, but have a plan to build and grow your online reviews.  Motivate patients to review your practice by making the process simple. Hand patients an easy instruction card for leaving a Google or Yelp review as they leave your office, and add buttons to your reviews pages on your website. As you accumulate more and more positive reviews, you will be able to offset the handful of negative that will occasionally arise from time to time.

Online reputation management is important for healthcare practices of any size. It’s about creating a positive Web presence to make your practice one that patients trust and want to engage with. It doesn’t matter how great your practice is – if people don’t trust you, they won’t be interested in making an appointment. 

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