Online Reputation Management for Doctors
17.2K views | +7 today
Follow
Online Reputation Management for Doctors
Curated and Written Articles to help Physicians and Other Healthcare Providers manage reputation online. Tips on Social media, SEO, Online Review Managements and Medical Websites
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scoop.it!

How Doctors Should Respond To Negative Online Reviews

How Doctors Should Respond To Negative Online Reviews | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Most businesses have mixed emotions about online consumer reviews, but the doctor community has opposed consumer reviews of their services to an unusual degree.  Why?  Some possible explanations:

Doctors are sensitive about their reputation.  Small business owners (including doctors) have strong linkages between their personal identity and the business’ identity, but doctors often take negative patient reviews even more personally than most business owners.  Sometimes, this reflects the doctor’s passion for delivering high-quality services, so doctors are frustrated if they don’t achieve that goal.  Other times, doctors may feel like the patients weren’t grateful, especially when the doctor did the best he/she could in complex circumstances.

 

Patient reviews matter.  Historically, patient opinions about the quality of their healthcare didn’t matter too much.  Many doctors got patients through hospital/insurance affiliations and referrals from other doctors.  Patient word-of-mouth also played a role, but doctors who failed to keep patients happy didn’t always suffer the professional consequences.  Now, because patients can speak publicly about their experiences and influence other prospective patients, they have new-found leverage over doctors.

 

Patients can’t judge the quality of medical advice.  Doctors often complain that patients lack the medical expertise to evaluate whether the doctor gave sound medical advice.  While doctors are the “experts” in the doctor-patient relationship, this usually overstates matters by a lot.  Patients are more sophisticated about medical services than ever before (due, in part, to their independent Internet research), and patients often can and do obtain second opinions from other doctors.  Furthermore, as I’ll discuss in a moment, patient reviews often address matters unrelated to a doctor’s medical advice, and in those cases the patients' lack of medical expertise is irrelevant.

 

Confidentiality obligations restrict doctors’ ability to respond.  Unlike many other small business owners, doctors owe their patients a duty of confidentiality.  As a result, doctors feel like patients can criticize their medical advice but the doctor can’t respond adequately due to confidentiality obligations.

Preying on these fears, for years an outfit called Medical Justice helped doctors suppress reviews by their patients.  Medical Justice provided form contracts that asked patients to sign away their right to review the doctor or transfer the copyright in any unwritten reviews to the doctor.  Many doctors--I estimate about 1,200 at the peak--embraced Medical Justice’s attractively pitched “solution” to the purported problems associated with patient reviews.

 

Encourage, Don’t Discourage, Patient Reviews

Everyone--even Medical Justice--now realizes it was a huge mistake to discourage patient reviews.  Doctors should want and encourage their patients to write reviews because:

 

Most online reviews by patients are positive.  The vast majority of patients’ reviews of their doctors are positive.  Doctors should get the public accolades for the excellent work they do.

Reviews provide doctors with useful feedback.  In addition to (rare) concerns about medical advice, patients may encounter issues with parking, office managers, billing practices, operating hours or bedside manners.  Indeed, most patient reviews address issues other than medical advice (see this press release).  While none of these detract from the quality of a doctor's medical advice, these issues do matter to existing and prospective patients.  Patient reviews provide doctors with honest and incredibly valuable feedback about what they are doing right with their practice, and what aspects they might want to revisit.

 

Individual reviews may not be credible, but the wisdom of the crowd is credible.  Doctors are sometimes petrified that a single patient will post an unfair review online, and that review will permanently damage the doctor’s practice.  Although this fear is easily overblown (prospective patients typically don’t make such an important decision based on a single review), it is quite easy to avoid this issue.  As the First Amendment maxim goes, the solution to “bad” speech is more speech.  Consistent with the “wisdom of the crowds,” any individual review isn’t necessarily credible, but the aggregate assessment of all patients becomes increasingly credible as the number of reviews grows.  If a doctor's only online review is negative, that review gains power from its uniqueness.  By expanding the number of online reviews, prospective patients get a more complete picture.

 

This reinforces why Medical Justice’s so-called solution was so counterproductive.  Doctors need a large enough set of patient reviews to achieve the wisdom of the crowds, yet Medical Justice helped and encouraged doctors to suppress patient reviews--increasing the odds that doctors would have only one or two patient reviews online, giving those reviews heightened significance for prospective patients who were starved for that information.  Doctors who followed Medical Justice's system are now scrambling to grow their review numbers; those who never tried to suppress patient reviews have a decided advantage over them.

 

It is unethical, and perhaps illegal, to restrict patient reviews.  Medical Justice’s contracts have not been definitively tested in court yet, so we don’t know for sure if they’re legal or not.  However, efforts to restrict patient reviews face some serious problems, such as:

  • In the late 1990s, software company Network Associates tried to impose a contractual clause restricting buyers from publishing reviews of the software.  In 2003, a New York court enjoined Network Associates from continuing to use that clause.
  • The U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Office of Civil Rights required a doctor to stop using Medical Justice’s anti-review form.
  • In one case where a doctor threatened to enforce the Medical Justice form against a patient, the patient instead preemptively sued the doctor.  The court’s initial opinion signaled serious skepticism about the legitimacy of the doctor’s conduct.

Even more importantly than the legal risks, asking patients to restrict their rights sends a terrible message to a doctor's patients.  Basically, it tells patients that the doctor doesn’t trust them enough to tell the truth online.  That distrust, at the beginning of an often long-term and vital relationship, permanently undermines the doctor-patient relationship.  How can a doctor expect patients to talk honestly and openly about their personal medical conditions, if the doctor has told them from day 1 that he/she don’t trust them to be honest elsewhere?

 

Dealing with a Negative Review

If the number of patient reviews is large enough, any outlier negative review will be diluted by the others.  Still, some things a doctor might do in response to a negative review:

Learn from the review.  Negative reviews offer doctors valuable feedback (no matter how poorly expressed), including feedback that patients are too afraid to tell their doctors directly.  Doctors should try to overcome their emotional reactions to a negative review and think objectively whether the patient might have a point--and if so, how the doctor will improve his/her services.

Respond privately.  If a doctor runs into an incredibly unhappy patient, it is worth trying to reach out to the patient privately.  (Not all patient reviews are attributed, so this isn’t always possible).  Doctors should show sincerity, sympathy and contrition.  When done properly, doctors frequently can turn their worst critic into their most loyal ally.

 

Respond publicly only if necessary. Repeatedly, I’ve seen a doctor’s happy patients rush to the defense of a doctor under attack and independently rebut a negative review.  If a doctor's patients are satisfied, the doctor can trust them to correct misinformation.

Where a review criticizes a doctor's medical advice, the doctor can’t respond with specifics about the patient’s circumstances (unless the patient consents), but the doctor can describe his/her standard protocols under specified conditions.

 

If the negative feedback is accurate, the doctor might apologize in public and explain how he or she will going to avoid the problem in the future.  Patients don’t expect doctors to be perfect, but they do expect doctors to learn from their mistakes.  Owning up to a mistake helps prospective patients trust their doctors even more. Note that responding to the review at all could provide extra visibility to the review, so public silence might be a rational choice.

Complain to review websites about fake reviews.  Review websites often won’t intervene when doctors claim that reviews defame them, and they are not legally obligated to do so (or legally liable for their failure to intervene) due to a statute Congress enacted in 1996 (47 USC 230).  However, if a doctor has credible evidence that the review is fake, review websites may be interested.  Review websites hate fake reviews as much as doctors do.

 

Lawsuits are almost never a good option.  Suing patients is a categorically bad idea, even if they’ve lied.  Inevitably the patient will respond with a malpractice claim or will bring a complaint against the doctor's license to practice; a lawsuit calls more attention to the patient’s assertions (the Streisand Effect); doctors suing patients often look like they have something to hide; and perhaps most importantly, the doctor isn't likely to win.  Over the past decade, I’ve identifiedabout two dozen doctor vs. patient lawsuits over online reviews.  Doctors rarely win in court, and even worse, some doctors ultimately must pay the attorneys’ fees of their patients as well as their own.  That’s a really bad business outcome.

 

The legal analysis is more complicated if the doctor can prove that a competitor or vindictive party is posting fake reviews.  Those lawsuits are more winnable than lawsuits against patients, but often the time and costs required to win simply aren’t worth it.  If a doctor decides to go this route, the doctor should clarify with his/her attorney what the ideal outcome is, the odds of achieving that ideal outcome, and how much it will cost to try.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Easy tips for physicians to address negative online patient reviews

Easy tips for physicians to address negative online patient reviews | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Patients increasingly turn to the Internet to express their opinions—positive and negative—about the physicians who provide their healthcare. The disgruntled patient has multiple online outlets on which to provide his or her views. Given that prospective patients consult such reviews when choosing a physician, it is important for doctors to be aware of their online reputation and to guard against unfair comments.

 

When confronted with online criticism, physicians are left questioning their options. Should they contact the patient or the website? Should they start a defamation lawsuit? Here are the steps to take.

 

Step 1: Investigate

 

Research the nature and extent of the negative content and determine whether the critic can be identified. This is crucial as the strategy chosen will be driven by the underlying facts. If the physician knows who the online critic is, he or she must decide whether to contact the person.

 

If you know the commenter: Address or confront

The characteristics of the critic will determine whether a friendly or assertive approach is in order. If the physician decides to reach out in a friendly manner, the general goals are to try to find a way to resolve the attacker’s underlying complaint and to ask for the damaging post to be removed. 

 

If the physician decides instead to pursue a more aggressive approach, the physician’s attorney can send a cease and desist letter. Often, these approaches do the trick, and obviate the time and expense associated with going to court.

 

If you don’t know the commenter: Talk to the review company

For those instances where the physician either does not know the attacker’s identity or does know but believes that the foregoing approaches will not work, the next option is to reach out to the website on which the content is hosted.

 

Under well-settled federal law, websites are generally immune from liability for decisions to leave, or to remove, content posted by their users. Thus, the website can agree to take down content without fear of legal repercussions, a fact that is helpful to a physician looking to have content removed. When physicians reach out to a website, they need to understand the site’s terms of use. Knowing the website’s policies allows physicians to prepare a credible, persuasive explanation as to why the offending content should be removed.

 

Last resort: File a lawsuit

The final option is to bring a defamation lawsuit against the attacker. This is seen as a last resort for a few reasons. Lawsuits involve a significant investment of time and resources, and the evidence needed to establish a defamation claim is often difficult to prove. Most importantly, a physician typically does not want to be known for suing his or her patient in connection with a bad review. However, if the negative content can be proven to be defamatory, an order from a court directing that it be removed will almost always be honored by a website.

 

Whenever addressing these issues, it is important to consult with your attorney to ensure that you are protecting your interests in an appropriate, and cost-effective manner. 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Medical Review Management: Vital For Doctor's Online Reputation

Medical Review Management: Vital For Doctor's Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

There was a time in the not too distant past that a business' reputation was made or ruined by word-of-mouth peer reviews or a call to the Better Business Bureau. Since the advent of the Internet, that process has been accelerated and word of mouth now travels at the speed of electrons and is easily searchable and visible. A check of a business on the BBB websites now takes a matter of minutes, no phone calls or letters required and very little time commitment. Consumers are turning to online review sites and forums more than ever before to get information on a business, product, or service they're considering. And they listen to what their peers have to say.

Search Engine Land's Local Consumer Review Survey 2012 shows that 72% of those surveyed trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from someone they know personally and 52% say that a positive review makes them much more likely to buy. Other findings from the survey show that 49% use online reviews to make a purchase decision at least occasionally and 27% do so regularly. And the number of reviews read before making a decision is steadily declining with 27% relying on 2-10 reviews, a reflection of increasing trust.

Another factor in the increasing impact of online reviews from all sources is the fact that as such sites become more popular with consumers, the search engines take notice and increase the ranking in their search results accordingly.

So businesses that want to be successful, which is all of them, can't ignore the impact of online opinions and need to engage in some type of active review monitoring and reputation management strategy. This is especially true for doctors and others offering healthcare services who rely on review sites to provide an accurate depiction of their practice or service. After all, consumers consider health care quality and costs to be one of the most important of life decisions and take extra care in deciding who is going to provide those services and products. A reputation can be ruined quickly with only a handful of negative doctor reviews but positive doctor reviews can significantly increase business.

Online reputation management takes a considerable amount of time; of which, most doctors don't have available to dedicate. Instead of using your valuable time worrying about what is being said about your practice or professional name online, there are resources specializing in being proactive to help minimize the effect one bad doctor review can have. Consider delegating to a reputable and experienced service that specializes in medical review management and provides a venue for customers to leave feedback and doctor reviews.

Review sites have a dramatic impact on your practices' web traffic and ultimately your number of appointments and procedures. There are many channels (Yelp, Google) and doctor review sites (Healthgrades, Vitals.com and MD.com) for both satisfied and unsatisfied patients to share their experiences. Don't let one bad review impact your practice; actively monitor what your patients are saying online and take a proactive approach to turning lemons into lemonade.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Online Physician Reputation Management: An Interview With Kevin Pho

Online Physician Reputation Management: An Interview With Kevin Pho | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Over the course of researching Too Big to Ignore: The Business Case for Big Data, I came across Kevin Pho, MD. Pho is a social media-savvy primary care physician and the founder of the medical blog KevinMD.com. (Klout named among the most influential social media voices in health care.)

Pho understands the power of data and how it can significantly improve patients’ lives. Along with Susan Gay, Pho recently co-authored Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices, a book about physician online reputation management,
Dr. Pho recently answered a few questions about his book via email. 

PS: Why is an online reputation important for doctors and medical practices?

More patients than ever are going online to research their doctor. According to a study from Pew Internet, 44 percent of patients online do so. And about one in five use physician rating sites. In my own practice, I estimate that about 10 to 15 percent of patients have found me through my online presence, whether it’s my blog or my LinkedIn profile.

It’s important for doctors to Google themselves at least once a week and see what comes up, because that’s what patients are doing. Physicians don’t want to be defined by a negative news story, or a bad review from an online physician rating site. That’s why it’s important that they take control of their online reputation before someone else does.

When you consider how transparency has disrupted other industries, like books, movies and hotels, it’s only a matter of time before the same disruption happens in health care.

PS: How can doctors, who are already busy, use social media to establish their online reputation?

I certainly understand that doctors are busy. I’m a primary care physician myself, and I see about 20 patients daily. Not many have time for social media.

But consider how long it takes to complete a LinkedIn profile. About 30 minutes or so. Doctors can fill their profiles with professional information like items from their resume or information about their practice. But those 30 minutes are incredibly powerful. Studies show that a LinkedIn profile gets ranked high on a Google search. So when patients Google a physician’s name, that profile will be ranked high, perhaps pushing down the effects of third party rating sites, or negative news articles.

Some doctors may choose to stop there, and that will already put them ahead of the curve. But for some, they may want to expand their social media activity onto Twitter or Facebook, and engage with patients. Doing so expands their so-called digital footprint and makes their online presence that much more visible.

PS: Although geared towards health providers, what can patients learn from this book?

Patients can learn about how physicians on the forefront of social media are using tools like Facebook, Twitter and blogs to better connect with patients and improve care. I included not only my stories from almost 10 years in the health care social media space, but also the experiences of dozens of physicians who share how social media has affected their practice.

 

Patients can also learn about the current data behind physician rating sites. Despite anxiety among physicians about online ratings, studies show that many of these sites are fragmented, and contain only a few ratings per physician. Online doctor rating sites shouldn’t be the sole factor when choosing a doctor, but a piece of the puzzle.

Finally, I have included stories from leading patient advocates, including “e-patient” Dave deBronkart and Kerri Morrone Sparling, who share their experience on how a physician’s online reputation affected their search for medical care.

PS: What is your takeaway message from the book?

Health providers need to be proactive about their online reputation. Passivity isn’t an option. Whether doctors know it or not, they already have a presence online, likely from third-party rating sites. But this information can be inaccurate, or worse, contain negative patient reviews. Is that the first online impression that you want to give patients?

 

Take charge of how you appear on Google. Proactively define yourself online. An online reputation will soon be just as important as a reputation in the community.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Online Reputation and Behavior With Patients

Online Reputation and Behavior With Patients | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

According to Google, ‘rudeness’ is defined as ‘lack of manners or discourtesy.’ Such insensitive and disrespectful behavior at work affects people’s health and performance. It thus results in a downward spiral. According to a study, it was found that rudeness results in:

  • Reduced team performance
  • Inability to think and manage decisions
  • No communication among team
  • Inability to treat patients in complex situations, resulting in hurting patients

A disappointed and demotivated team cannot treat patients properly, and that gradually spoils your practice reputation. Since you always want your practice to grow, you need to manage your reputation and acquire more patients. For this, you need to market your services and take care of your staff who further takes care of patients.

 

Be Patient-Friendly

Your patient-centric practice should offer an exceptional experience at every point. It starts with searching your practice and continues through the end of the office visit. You need to have an interactive and informative website with a patient portal. In order to offer good treatment, you need to have a patient-friendly and motivated staff. For this, you need to:

  • Forbid negative comments from everyone in a position of power.
  • Ensure norms and values are accepted by every staff member.
  • Show regard for all team members.
  • Have practice goals and the path to achieve them recognized by all staff members.
  • Check that relationships of staff members with each other reflect your practice’s culture.

There can be no excuse for not showing basic courtesy. If you ignore this, your staff won’t be able to deal with patients’ issues.

 

Offer Satisfaction

For the growth of your practice, you need to have patient satisfaction as well as staff satisfaction, because either of them has the power to damage your reputation, especially in the world of the Internet. Review sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, Yellow Pages, etc. have a lot of content to educate your target audience about your practice. Regardless of how genuine the reason, dissatisfied patients don’t hesitate for a moment to flock to the Internet to express their frustration – subsequently, ruining your reputation. This frustration does not depend just on treatment but also includes appointment setting, the office environment and staff behavior and interaction with patients. Any rude behavior among staff will make them unhappy and demotivated, and that will gradually reflect in their behavior toward patients.

Other consequences of rude behavior with employees are:

  • Breakdown in communication
  • Mistakes entering registration details
  • Delay or no follow-up on insurance claims
  • Not actively responding to patient calls

 

All of this negatively affects patient care and the interpersonal relationships among your team members. Further, the staff is divided into two groups, one who works for you and the other who works with you. So it is essential for you to make clear to all your employees that they work with you so they feel respected and empowered. Only then you will get cooperation from your team and ideas that can take your practice to a higher level.

Issues of review spam are also an after-effect of rude behavior from staff that forces patients to write negatively about you on the online review portals and deteriorates your hard-earned reputation.

 

To conclude, remember your behavior with your staff is directly proportional to their behavior with your patients. Happy patients will do word-of-mouth marketing for you and write well about your practice on your various review and social media platforms. This will gradually grow your ranking on search engine results.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Dealing with Negative Online Reviews of Doctors

Dealing with Negative Online Reviews of Doctors | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Can one bad apple ruin it for the bunch? Yes, if you’re talking about online reviews.

Doctors train for many years and work very hard to maintain robust practices, so it is only natural that they are very protective about their reputations. As sites such as healthgrades.com and ratemds.com grow in popularity, it becomes harder and harder for physicians to manage their reputations online.

 

So what happens when a patient posts a scathingly bad review?

The results may not be as bad as you would imagine. In fact, a study found that most patients had never checked their doctor’s reputation online at all. However, the same study found that patients are beginning to be more aware of physician reviews online and are likely to begin consulting online reviews of doctors in the future.

That means that a bad review may not be the end of the world right now, but could negatively impact a physician’s future business if he or she does not take steps to improve his or her image online.

 

Combating a Bad Review

The best way to combat a bad review is to fight fire with fire. While many doctors may feel the urge to discourage patients for posting reviews online, the exact opposite is the best response. Doctors should work with their marketing team to make a plan to encourage patients to post more reviews online.

Why? Because a recent analysis of online doctor ratings shows that more than three-quarters of all doctor reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Encouraging patients to go online and write a review is very likely to result in a higher number of positive reviews, which will help to mitigate the damage of any negative reviews.

When criticized in a public forum, it may be tempting for a doctor to respond publicly. In most circumstances, the doctor would be better served to either respond privately or not at all. Often the doctor’s other patients will publicly defend their doctor. If there is truth to the criticism, however, the physician should take steps to remedy any problems that led to the negative review.

 

What if a Negative Review Isn’t True?

Physicians should directly contact review sites if they believe a review is planted or false. While review sites will not remove reviews solely on the basis of their being negative, some will consider removing a review if it can be proven false or inaccurate. Most sites will require some kind of proof.

Lawsuits are rarely a good option for physicians seeking to vindicate themselves from a negative review, even if it is false. A lawsuit can draw more attention to a situation that will most likely go away on its own, and can negatively impact a physician’s relationship with his or her other patients. If the physician has proof that the negative review was planted by a competitor, a lawsuit may be appropriate and more successful than one against a patient. Doctors may be better served, however, by engaging patients and encouraging them to participate in the online community.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

No comment yet.