It’s easy to be irritated by how the Internet has changed some things with your practice. Sure, it has made it easier to get your name out there (especially when we move you up in search!). And it is easier for patients and potential patients to know exactly what procedures you specialize in. Plus, a beautiful, functional website gives potential patients an instant feeling of quality and reassurance when visiting your site.
But you didn’t ever expect to need a Facebook page for your practice, much less having to populate it with stuff like photo caption contests! And you surely weren’t prepared in med school for handling online reviews. What used to be simply between you and your patients can now be out there for all to see, good or bad.
In the U.S. there are currently 65 sites devoted to online medical reviews. Different sites have different structures, but all of them provide the basics about physicians: education, specialty, experience, those kinds of things. Ratings are based on scores for a variety of factors involved with patient care. These can vary, but usually include bedside manner, communication skills, wait times, ease of making an appointment, staff courtesy, and office cleanliness.
Anxiety about online reviews is universal, but they’re a fact of life in the medical world and aren’t going anywhere. But there are things you can do to manage your online reputation to your advantage.
Online reviews are used
Patients are increasingly using online reviews when choosing a doctor. A recent survey by JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) found that two-thirds of people are aware of online physician rating sites, with about one quarter using them.
Among those who sought online physician ratings in the past year, 35 percent reported selecting a physician based on good ratings, and 37 percent had avoided a physician with bad ratings. Over 40 percent of those responding to the survey deemed physician-rating sites as “very important” for choosing a doctor.
Make sure your listings are consistent
With so many review sites, your listings can become inconsistent. These are obvious if you’ve changed locations or if you’ve changed your practice name. But inconsistencies even down to how your phone number is annotated (with parentheses around the area code or not, periods between the number sets instead of hyphens, etc.) can hurt your page ranking, and they can make your practice seem sloppy to potential patients.
One of our services for our practices provides you with a dashboard that makes all of your review site listings consistent. Plus, it tracks all of them at once, making it easy to manage them. We also help you “claim” all of your public listings on local directories, giving you power over your listings.
Respond to reviews
When a review comes in, particularly a negative one, it’s important to respond promptly. You may not agree with the gripe, but you need to show that you hear the problem and offer a solution, if possible, to remedy the situation. But you have to respond positively, not as an angry reaction. Just showing that you acknowledge the problem is important to people reading that review. Before you hit the post or send, make sure someone else in your office has read your response and agrees it isn’t too heated or negative.
You can push any negative reviews lower on results pages by having more positive reviews. While it is true that, compared to angry customers who had a bad experience, happy customers often aren’t the ones to post, you can encourage them to do so. Maybe you have a small sign that patients see when leaving your office. Maybe you follow-up a procedure with an email to make sure all is well. At the bottom, you can ask for a review.
Join the conversation
You may not be a fan of social media with all the political junk flying around on Facebook and the like. But your practice needs a Facebook page at the least, and you need to keep that page active. Regular postings need to try and engage your followers with things like pictures of your aesthetician’s new baby or maybe a link to a story on a celebrity having a procedure you offer. If you don’t want to spend time doing these postings, someone in your office needs to be tasked with it, or you can have us handle it at Advice Media.
Plus, you need to engage in the conversation. If someone replies to a post, you need to reply to that if it makes sense to do so. Maybe a patient posts a photo of herself after her brow lift. That’s must comment!
Don’t forget to dot the I’s
Sometimes the littlest things can make a person feel less than enthused about their visit to your practice. Was the receptionist cold? Did the patient have to wait 25 minutes past her appointment time before she got in? Was the office bathroom less than clean? Yes, these may be small potatoes versus the success of a surgical procedure, but they can stick with a person and reduce the person’s stars in his or her rating.
So, read what people talk about in reviews of your practice and others, and see what details come up. Then, go to your office and make sure all of those same details are buttoned up.
The online review environment can be something to dread, or you can use it as something to promote the quality and environment of your practice. In most cases, it doesn’t take much work, but it does take diligence.
If you need help managing your online reputation, your Advice Media representative is the source to rely upon. If you have questions or need help, simply get a hold of your representative.