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Healthcare practices must practice effective medical online reputation management to succeed in today’s climate.
We live in a world where millions of people turn to the World Wide Web and rely on patient reviews when making decisions about which practices they wish to visit, managing your reputation should be one of your top priorities.
But how do you begin the process for your medical practice?
Medical Online Reputation Management: Rules to Remember
Before you dive in and get started on the “How” of managing the online reputation of your medical practice, it is essential that you understand why it is important to manage your virtual reputation as closely as you work to protect the physical image of your business in the “offline” world.
These are a few rules to remember to help you stay motivated, on task, and on target for managing your online reputation.
What you don’t know CAN hurt you
Not knowing what is out there about your practice on the internet doesn’t mean that information can’t hurt you. In fact, if you don’t know about these negative reviews and respond appropriately, most audiences assume it means you don’t care about the online reputation of your practices.
Building positive relationships with your patients can help prevent negative reviews
Most people who leave negative reviews are disgruntled in some form or another. Working hard to ensure all your patients have as positive of experiences as possible can reduce the number of negative reviews your practice receives.
Negative reviews can be positive experiences for your practice
While no one likes to feel rejected or disparaged in such a public manner, you may use a negative review as an opportunity to learn something about patients’ expectations and experiences. Then you can use this information to try to make things right with one patient and to avoid making similar mistakes with future patients.
Prospective patients are researching you online
Recent studies indicate that the vast majority, more than 75 percent, of your people in need of medical services research practitioners online before choosing their providers. This means that getting your medical online reputation management right is extremely important for the future of your practice.
People place value in what they read in these reviews
According to Search Engine Journal, 91 percent of younger (aged 18-34) consumers place a great deal of trust in online reviews. While it may sound like negative reviews online are all doom and gloom, they certainly can be, there are things you can do to diminish their impact and to improve your standing with potential patients.
Not all negative online reviews are legitimate
Sometimes, unscrupulous competitors will seek to discredit your practice in order to draw more patients to theirs. It is certainly playing dirty pool. However, a solid plan for managing your medical online reputation can help you overcome the negativity these types of reviews generate.
Now that you understand why it is so important to manage your online reputation, it is time to dig in and learn more about the process of managing your medical online reputation.
Accentuating the Positive and Creating a Positive Online Reputation for Your Practice
It is far easier to make a good impression than it is to negate a bad one. It takes work to overcome bad reviews as a first impression of your practice. However, if potential patients have a positive first experience with your practice, they are far more likely to take the negative reviews with a grain of salt.
This means they may grant you some grace when making decisions about your practice. That doesn’t mean they’ll completely ignore bad reviews about your practice. It simply means that they will seek out additional information to confirm the good or the bad.
What can you do to foster a positive online reputation for your practice?
There are actually several steps you can take that will help in this effort. You may have taken some of them already.
- Create a website for your practice. This is the first step you can take to establish favorable credibility. Make sure your website is professional in appearance, provides accurate information, and is properly maintained. Additionally, introduce your team (with smiling photos), provide testimonials from satisfied patients, and fill your website with helpful information your patients will want to know.
2. Start a blog for your patients. In addition to starting a blog, give them opportunities to sign up for updates through email so they have access to all the latest information. Also, update your blog regularly. This brings in new patients and keeps your existing patients informed about things that matter to them.
3. Engage your patients on social media. For medical practices, COVID-19 provides a steady stream of information in which you can engage with your patients online. Use social media to reach out to your patients, connect with them, and attract new patients. Social media can be a powerful tool for medical online reputation management. Especially with health concerns front-and-center for so many.
4. Respond to online reviews whether they are good or bad. This is, perhaps, the single most important thing you can do to help mitigate the strength of any negative views made against your practice and only serves to reinforce many of the positive reviews.
Once you’ve taken steps to make sure you are fostering a positive reputation online, it is time to do the work of mitigating negative information about your practice that exists on the World Wide Web.
Managing Negative Online Reviews of Your Medical Practice
While many physicians do operate, at least to some extent, virtually, there are still quite a few who do not. You don’t have to operate your medical practice online to need to medical online reputation management. In fact, it may be even MORE important for you to engage in proactive reputation management actions.
Convince Reviewers to Remove Bad Reviews (It can Happen!)
One of the simplest solutions for addressing negative online reviews is to respond to the reviewer directly on the site where the post is listed. Do not, at this point, request removal of the review. Simply apologize to the reviewer for their negative experience and ask what you can do to make it right.
Whether anything ever comes of this action, those who read the negative review and your response will respect you for attempting to make it right. Ignoring it just allows it to fester in the mind of the person who left the review and makes others think you do not care to protect the online reputation of your practice. Both are bad for your practice.
In some cases, though, initiating a dialog is all it will take to turn the table for your practice. In many cases, negative reviews are left by people who feel frustrated and simply want to be heard. Reaching out helps them to feel heard and can begin to soften hard feelings toward your practice.
Once you’ve appeased the reviewer and reached an understanding you can decide whether you feel comfortable asking them to remove the negative review.
Contact the Publisher About Removing Negative Reviews
If the first step doesn’t work or the reviewer doesn’t respond to your attempts to reach out, consider contacting the publisher and asking them to remove the review.
Many understand that there are sometimes ulterior motives for leaving bad reviews and they have a process for uncovering those motives and a system in place to request removal of negative reviews that were left inappropriately. They will investigate and notify you of their decision.
Follow their process and give the system they have in place an opportunity to work. It’s a long shot. There’s no doubt. However, there are instances where reviews are removed following this method.
Medical Online Reputation Management that Works for Busy Health Practices
The one downside of effective online reputation management for medical practices and more is the commitment of time and energy it requires. Your best move is to have someone else do the heavy lifting, the back and forth negotiations, and the legwork on your behalf. Not only will that save you time, but it can help you save the reputation of your medical practice.
Net Reputation needs to be your first stop when it comes to managing the online reputation of your medical practice. We can help with everything from the positive actions to the removal of negative reviews necessary to foster the solid reputation your medical practice resolves. Contact Net Reputation today to learn more about how we can help you manage your online reputation to grow your practice.