Today, the Internet has a bigger impact than ever on the professional lives of medical practitioners. Establishing a good online reputation has become vital for the success of a medical practice. Irrespective of the size of your practice, your online reputation will determine the number of patients that walk into your clinic.
What the Study Says
A recent study has revealed that 84 percent of patients rely on online reviews for evaluating medical practitioners. Also, more than 80 percent of patients search the Internet before scheduling an appointment with their doctor. In fact, patients do not even shy away from choosing out-of-network doctors if their online reviews are favorable.
While the internet is enabling prospective patients to choose medical practitioners, it has also given them the control over how a doctor is perceived online. You may not be aware of it, but your patients are observing your work and posting their opinions online for the world to read. Customer reviews are influential. They have the power to affect the success or failure of your medical practice. For any business, including your medical practice, the implications of a bad online reputation can prove costly. Considering all this, it isn’t surprising that a positive online reputation impacts revenue. According to published reports, an increase in star rating on popular review sites can increase your revenue by nine percent. Clearly, your online reputation is not something to be ignored as it affects your medical practice.
Here’re some tips on how to manage your online reputation.
#1. Search the Internet for your hospital’s name
Instead of monitoring your rank with respect to your competitors, searching the Internet with your practice’s name will tell you how the online community perceives you. You must be aware of what others are saying about you in order to stay on top of a potential risk. While searching the Internet, you may come across a lot of search directories and review sites. Don’t skip them. Pay close attention to review sites and directories because a single negative comment may have a significant impact on your online reputation. Make sure you prioritize review sites specifically intended for medical practitioners.
#2. Handle negative comments professionally
It’s not enough to just glance through the review sites once or twice a month. You have to be prepared to face bad reviews. Bad reviews are inevitable, and it is neither possible nor advisable to avoid them. The damage caused by a bad review may have a direct and long-lasting impact on your reputation and revenue. Therefore, the best way to handle a bad review is to respond in a constructive manner.
Most review sites will allow you to comment on reviews that mention your name or your practice. However, responding immediately to a bad comment can prompt you to write something that may worsen the situation. So, take the time to reflect on what was said, and respond politely. Though your response will depend on the nature of the comment, try to apologize and make it clear that the concern has been noted. You must not forget to show that you care and that you will focus on the improvement areas. Also, try to respond publicly because this will show other potential patients that you value your patients’ feedback and opinions.
#3. Encourage good reviews
Your rating on a review site is often compromised by the fact that a vast majority of happy patients would not go online and post their experiences. Unsatisfied patients are more likely to leave an online review. Positive reviews are much sought after and can prove to be very impactful. Therefore, it is important for you to gather as many positive reviews as you can. While openly asking patients to write positive reviews on a specific site may go against you, encouraging them to do so is totally acceptable.
If the time is suitable, you can request a happy patient to post an honest review about your practice on one of the popular review sites. If the patient is willing, you can also go ahead and display positive reviews on your website. Customer testimonials and recommendations are the most beneficial tools for enhancing brand credibility. Though most patients will be willing to leave a positive review, but they may not initiate the process unless you suggest it.
#4. Create and post unique content
The most important factor while building a positive online reputation is to control the amount and nature of online content. While you don’t have any control over what others write about you, you can certainly decide what you need to write about your practice.
There are a number of tools that you can use to create positive content. Constantly posting favorable content through your social media accounts, blogs, and practice website will affirm your credibility to potential patients. Regularly posting positive content can dwarf the impact of negative content created by others. Though creating positive content will not make the negative content disappear, it will weaken its impact, and lead your online reputation in the right direction.
#5. Improve offline
Publicly apologizing and addressing the negative feedback may help, but it will not prevent it from happening again. Therefore, you must never get so trapped in managing your online reputation that you end up ignoring the bigger goal. The goal is to learn from your mistakes and become a better professional. Your online reputation is a direct result of how you conduct yourself offline. So, the best way to create and maintain a positive online reputation is simply by being the best doctor you can be.
Whether you agree or not, social media is here to stay. Your patients are going to post an opinion about you or your practice. So, you must have a plan to advertise your practice on social media by posting great content and responding to posts. For a doctor, the most important social media sites are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can consider hiring a reputation management company for doctors if you don’t have enough time or knowledge to manage your social media accounts.
#7. Keep business listings updated
Online business listings are usually pulled from centralized databases that are often outdated. Incorrect contact details or profile description can result in a loss of business. Therefore, you must monitor these sites to check for information accuracy.
#8. Seek external help if required
It is not always an easy task to manage your online reputation. In such cases, hiring an online reputation management firm for managing your online reputation alleviates some of the burdens. By seeking the help of a reputation management firm, you may be able to reclaim control of your online reputation.
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