Healthcare Reputation Management for Doctors in 2020

What is Healthcare Reputation Management?

Healthcare reputation management is increasingly important for doctors, medical practices, and hospitals, alike. As more patients search for their providers online, it’s important to have a strong online image and presence – one that instills confidence in their ability.  Healthcare reputation management means taking control of your image and brand to attract more patients.

To better understand healthcare reputation management, ask yourself the following questions:

When prospective patients search your doctors’ names or medical practice online, what do they see? And what’s their first impression?

Go to Google and search for your individual doctors or medical practice. You may be surprised by the results…

When doctors hear the marketing buzz phrase “reputation management’, they tend to think about their online reviews.

Reputation management for doctors encapsulates doctors’:

  • online profiles, reviews, and ratings across Google, Healthgrades, Vitals, WebMD, Facebook, and more.
  • presence across online physician directories
  • authored articles
  • medical practice website

Reputation management for doctors is a hot topic. The use of internet and social media has exploded in recent years and many patients now rely on the internet for healthcare provider recommendations. Many physicians used to only grow their patient base through word-of-mouth. This is no longer necessarily true. Now, more and more patients are being sourced from the web through paid ads, organic search, online reviews, and online physician directories.  

Reputation Management for Doctors: The Benefits

The goal of reputation management is to optimize a doctor’s online digital footprint. And with an effective healthcare reputation management strategy in place, doctors and medical practices will attract more patients, increase their practice profitability, and build their reputation in the communities they serve.

Why is healthcare reputation management important?

Managing a doctor’s online presence has never been more important. After all, we live in an increasing digital age as more and more patients turn to the internet for healthcare recommendations.

Doctors spend their careers building their reputation, brand, and earning the respect of their community and professional peers.

As a physician, your online reputation takes years to build and single moments to ruin. One online review from a disgruntled patient (or competitor) can tarnish your reputation, costing you patients and money. And when that reputation is tarnished, others notice.

In some instances, reviews can be removed from the internet if they violate certain guidelines (Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals). However, usually, once a negative review is posted online, it stays there for years for new patients to see.

Hypothetically, if you had 24 reviews, averaging 2.8 stars on Google, would you be proud of those numbers? Would you feel comfortable posting those same reviews and testimonials on your own website? Probably not…

And as a patient, would you really feel comfortable getting operated on by a doctor with subpar reviews and ratings?

If you want to understand the importance of healthcare reputation management, consider the following statistics.

  • 77% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor.
  • 47% of patients would go out-of-network for a similar doctor with better reviews
  • 84% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians

Heard about a new restaurant opening in town? Perhaps you’re visiting a new city and don’t know where to eat? In this scenario, many people immediately turn to Yelp or Google for recommendations, reviews, and ratings.  You may be willing to try eating at a 3-star restaurant, but most wouldn’t feel comfortable getting operated on by a 3-star doctor. After all, nothing is more important than your own health and well-being. Searching for a doctor is no different.

Place yourself in the patients’ shoes. Imagine you’re in need of a new physician or specialist. Word of mouth is certainly important. However, word of mouth is hard if you’re in a new city or don’t have a connection.

How can physicians Build and protect their online reputation?

  • First and foremost, physicians should create and/or claim all of your online listings, like Google My Business, Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals, and Facebook.
    By gaining control of your listings, you can ensure all of the information in your listings is correct. There are hundreds of online directories and the list continues to grow. Not all directories are equal. Focus on the review sites and directories that matter. The most popular review platforms for doctors are Google My Business, Healthgrades, Vitals, Facebook and Yelp.  More importantly, claiming the listing ensures that you are automatically stayed up-to-date of any changes or activity, which leads us to our second point. Don’t have the time or energy to claim your listings? rater8 can help. Our consulting services take the pain away. 
  • Once the online listings are created, it is important to update the listing and fill them out completely. You’ll want to make sure that your profile is complete. You can complete your profile by adding office hours, a description of your medical background and outlining your speciality. Also make sure to be specific, not generic. One common mistake is that doctors will list themselves as a “doctor”, instead of an “orthopedic surgeon.” If you want to appear in online searches for “orthopedic surgeon”, it’s important you categorize yourself as one, and also include this target word throughout the bio and description. 
  • Add professional quality photos to your doctor and medical practice listings. It’s important to make a strong impression with prospective patients. No one wants to see a headshot taken on an iPhone. You should have a professional headshot to convey the standard of excellent you provide.
  • Reply to online reviews. It’s important to reply to positive and negative reviews alike and do so in a timeline manner. When replying to online reviews, remember to be clear, concise, and professional. Keep in mind that any response is there for the world to see. Because you’re replying to patients, be aware of any potential HIPAA violations. 
  • Grow your online reviews. Asking every patient to leave an online review isn’t practical and it’s not smart. At rater8, we’ve seen different medical practices experiment with ways to build online reviews. Some hand out a business card or have a sign at the front desk, soliciting reviews . Manually email patients isn’t a great strategy either. It’s too hands-on and time-consuming. You want to ensure you have a steady increase of online reviews over time.  You don’t want to aggressively build your online reviews for a few months and then abandon the effort. When it comes to online reviews, you want to have volume AND recency. This will instill the greatest confidence in your online readers.
  • Monitor your online reviews. Designate an individual from your practice to stay on top of any new activity. This should be the same person that claims ownership of the listings. You want to have a pulse on any new reviews written on the internet. Google My Business will alert you automatically any time a new review is written. 
  • Build a modern responsive website. When people arrive at your website, are they greeted by on old, poorly designed website. Your website is patient-facing and it’s crucial that it leaves a strong first impression with all online visitors. Once you’ve build a high volume of quality reviews, be sure to highlight the positive feedback and reviews directly on the home page or doctor bio pages. 
  • Become a thought leader. Write articles and create videos, discussing and explaining the cases you treatment. Prove to others that you are an expert in the field. This is one effective way to build your online reputation.

Do any of the following sound familiar:

  • Is your medical practice or individual doctors plagued with poor online reviews and ratings?
  • Are you investing too much time and energy asking patients to leave online reviews with little results?
  • Are your competitors outranking and outperforming you online?
  • Looking to increase your patient volume?

rater8: Reputation Management for Doctors

rater8 is the leader and pioneer in reputation management for doctors. Our state-of-the art-solution was designed specifically for healthcare providers so we understand your challenges and goals. We’ll help you grow your online reviews so you can attract more patients and thrive in a hyper-competitive market. 

P.S. rater8 offers a risk-free, 30-day free trial. We take care of the implementation and set up. You can sit back and watch your online reviews and ratings take off. Learn more here.