Reputation management. If you’re ever used a contractor or scrolled through the customer reviews to decide on an Amazon purchase, you have a pretty good idea what that phrase means. It’s about managing your brand – cultivating a positive presence online. And it’s becoming an increasingly important part of how physicians stay competitive in today’s market.
As a physician, you are a brand. Much like any particular organization, you have to preserve that brand. But how do you stay on top of this? What can physicians do to cultivate their reputation and keep their practices competitive?
How can you really know your online brand without seeing what the average patient will find when searching your name? The first step is to use a search engine like Google or Bing to research your own name. Enter your first and last name into the search bar and begin to review the sites that allow comments. You may want to add your location (state or city) and credentials to the search to make sure you’re getting the right results. See for yourself what patients are saying about you and your staff.
Assess Patient Reviews
As you’re researching, make a few notes. Are there any common trends? Any feedback that you can actually work on? Anything you should share with staff? Some reviews could really have useful suggestions for improving your practice.
If there are no comments about you – that’s good and bad. You’ve essentially got a fresh slate to build your online brand on, but you’re also probably missing out on prospective patients who are searching for a new doctor in the area.
How to Build a Better Reputation
If you don’t have much yet online, one of the best things to do is to have staff ask your patients to add reviews on yelp.com, healthgrades.com or ZocDoc.com. Make it as easy as possible for patients – you can even consider offering them a small incentive or prize. You might want to provide your patients a card or send an email with the URLs and directions on how to write a review. Tell the patient that you're looking to build a sustainable practice and that you’d be very grateful for any comments they provide.
If you or your staff find negative reviews, you may want to consider responding and inviting the patient to call the practice to discuss an issue. But remember to always maintain the patient’s privacy and do this in a friendly way. Emphasize that you want to make sure the patient is getting the care they need and you’re grateful for their feedback, good or bad.
Building up your reviews doesn’t need to take much time. Only a few minutes a day could help you and your practice get to a better online reputation. Yet, ignoring your online presences could potentially harm your waiting room pipeline, calls coming into the practice and any referrals from existing patients, former patients and even colleagues. If there were a way to increase your revenue while only spending a few moments a day, wouldn't it be worth it for your sustainable future?