Online Reputation Management for Doctors
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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
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Online Reputation Management for Healthcare Practices & Physicians 

Online Reputation Management for Healthcare Practices & Physicians  | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

What’s more valuable for choosing a new restaurant, gym, or smartphone: an online review or the suggestion that your friend makes? Nearly three out of four consumers (72%) say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to a SearchEngineLand.com survey posted on MedNet.com.

 

In the last year alone, 68 percent more patients turned to online reviews to gather information about potential healthcare providers. And nearly half of all patients (44%) may be willing to seek out-of-network doctors with favorable online reviews, according to a survey featured on FiercePracticeManagement.com. Does your online reputation have new patients lining up to schedule an appointment or is it scaring folks away?

 

Online Healthcare Reputation Management Basics

Online reputation management can be tricky. On the one hand, candid reviews are important for protecting prospective patients from an unethical physician or poorly managed practice; however, these practice and physician-related problems are pretty rare. Most of the criticism that’s leveled at doctors in online reviews—a long wait before an appointment, the high cost of a treatment—are systemic issues that a single physician or practice cannot single-handedly fix.

Additionally, doctor-patient confidentiality prevents physicians from directly engaging online critics. While you can’t wage all out war with an online critic, the good news is that you don’t need to. And many factors outside a physician’s immediate control, like wait times, actually rank as one of the least important factors for patient reviews, according to a survey featured on FiercePracticeManagement.com.

A survey of 4,000 patients using reviews found that the following review elements are most important when deciding whether or not to schedule an appointment at a physician’s practice:

  • Quality of care (48 percent)
  • Rating (45 percent)
  • Patient experience (40 percent)
  • Accurate diagnoses (34 percent)
  • Wait times (25 percent)
  • Doctor’s listening skills (22 percent)

 

In general, most physicians are rated positively and higher rankings for hospitals and medical practices are associated with better medical care, according to an analysis of online reviews conducted by the American College of Surgeons. Unfortunately, since physician review websites (PRWs) do not verify the authenticity of a patient’s review, there’s a high possibility for abuse, misinformation, and outdated information.

While you cannot directly control the quality or quantity of your practice’s reviews, these reviews play an increasingly important role in generating referral traffic to your website and appointments for your practice.

 

The following steps are a good start for online reputation management:

  • Keep tabs on your profile. You can’t improve what you don’t know! Popular PRWs include Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com and RateMDs.com. Increasingly, websites like ZocDoc.com also offers patient reviews in conjunction with the ability to book appointments with participating physicians.
  • Set up an online profile. Many PRWs allow physicians to display professional profiles; use the information in your profile to control your reputation and protect against potential criticism. For example, you could highlight your willingness to accept same-day appointments or your expertise in a highly specialized practice field.
  • Request feedback from patients. In general, you can expect positive feedback from long-time patients. Post a sign in your waiting area saying that you value feedback and send an appointment-follow-up email, inviting patients to take a short online survey. Quote positive reviews and link to addition positive content on your practice’s site.
Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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How Much Is a New Patient Worth to Your Medical Practice?

How Much Is a New Patient Worth to Your Medical Practice? | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Determining the lifetime value of a new patient can help your medical practice run a more informed and cost-effective business.

 

In an increasingly competitive healthcare environment, there’s no way around the fact that in order to get a seat in the table, you have to ante up. That means investing in a variety of digital marketing tactics, such as search engine and social media advertising, content marketing, and website optimization. But how do you determine how much budget you can spend on patient acquisition while still remaining profitable?

 

By determining the actual lifetime value of a new patient for your medical practice, you’ll be better prepared to set realistic goals, build an impactful strategy, and justify your decisions to administrators. Most importantly, by assigning a hard value to each new patient gained, you’ll gain a practical understanding of what kind of marketing budget is appropriate in order to maximize your practice’s profitability.

How to Determine a Patient’s Value

The real question is, how do you actually go about calculating the lifetime value of your patients? It’s best to begin with the basics. Of course, you want the number to be as accurate as possible — but a bit of estimation is expected and perfectly acceptable. Here are a few of the considerations you should take into account:

  • Average cost of each in-office visit
  • How many times the average patient receives treatment
  • Average number of peer referrals per existing patient
  • Average recurring revenue generated by each patient
  • Revenue from procedures

For example, if you typically charge $120 for an in-office consultation, and the average patient visits the practice about five times per year, each patient is worth a minimum of $600 per year. However, if each of those patients, on average, makes two referrals that result in new appointments, their value effectively doubles. And that’s not even factoring in recurring revenue from follow-up visits, as well as revenue from procedures.

Then you have to consider that value over the course of a lifetime — the longer the patient stays with your practice, the longer you’ll continue earning the same amount of revenue (and sometimes even more) year after year.

Once you’ve identified the average baseline value of each new patient, you can determine all sorts of things, like how much you can afford to spend on various digital tactics while still remaining profitable.

Maximizing the Lifetime Value of Each Patient

Now that you’ve determined the potential lifetime value of each patient, it’s time to focus your efforts on improving that value. The good news is this is a relatively simple thing to do.

 

You should strive to make your practice as patient-focused as possible, both online and off. By improving the overall patient experience, you bolster loyalty, retention, and referrals. In an increasingly competitive healthcare environment, the value of a solid reputation is immeasurable. Also, remember that it’s much more expensive to find new patients than it is to hold onto existing ones.

 

At the end of the day, the deeper your understanding of who your patients are and the lifetime value they represent, the better you’re able to build the business side of your operation. By reducing revenue-related stress and uncertainty, you can focus more of your attention on quality of care, treatment, and patient satisfaction — in other words, the building blocks of a successful and sustainable medical practice.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Why Physicians Are Embracing Online Patient Reviews

Why Physicians Are Embracing Online Patient Reviews | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Anytime Andy Pasternak, a family medicine physician in Reno, Nev., needs a slice of humble pie, he turns to one source.

Google.


"Usually if I am feeling good about myself and want to keep myself hungry, I'll Google my reviews," Pasternak says.


Indeed, some of the reviews on Pasternak's Yelp page (bit.ly/silver-sage-yelp) are downright mean: "Limited and narrow-minded way of thinking," "distracted from his job as a primary-care doctor," and he has an attitude that is "dismissive."


Not all of them are bad, and overall, his Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine has more positive ratings than negative ones. He has a three-star rating on Yelp and Vitals, and three-and-a-half stars on HealthGrades. Top-end restaurants in New York have been ranked worse.


For many docs though, the negative reviews stick out. While some may be warranted, physicians feel many come from people with grudges. "I've found them to be a little frustrating because for most of the online review sites, there was no way for me to be sure people writing the reviews had actually seen me in the office," says Ira Nash, an internal medicine physician and senior vice president of the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, with various locations in New York.


GROWING TREND


These sentiments are echoed by a number of doctors not exactly enthralled with the idea of their professional expertise being judged on Yelp, HealthGrades, Vitals, or any other website. Yet for better or worse, research shows that online reviews are how they're increasingly being discovered and judged.


A survey of approximately 3,000 patients, from Boston-based health tech company Nuance, discovered that more than half of millennials (the generation of patients in their mid- to late-30s and younger) say they use online reviews to shop for a doctor. Another survey, from Austin-based consulting firm, Software Advice, found that 42 percent of all patients said they used online reviews in 2014, which was up from just 25 percent in 2013.  "We're starting to see the shift in online access to individual provider information becoming more real, and more real to individual providers," says Anthony Oliva, the national medical director at Nuance.


Driving this demand is a conglomeration of consumerism and technology, according to experts. Patients expect it, says Nash, as part of a larger culture where all forms of decision making (from going to a restaurant to picking a pair of shoes) can be crowdsourced.


Furthermore, consumerism has been integrated into healthcare, as part of the shift from volume to value. While the government isn't using a physician's Yelp score to determine Medicare reimbursement, there are the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) and Clinician & Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) surveys. The HCAHPS is given to patients at discharge and can have an impact on a provider's Medicare total reimbursement, while CG-CAHPS is required as part of the Physician Quality Reporting System.


Moreover, thanks to the Internet and other technological innovations of the last 20 years, patients are more empowered than ever to make healthcare-related decisions. It doesn't just stop at picking a provider. The Nuance survey reflects how younger patients are coming to the doctor's office armed with health information they found online. A survey from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Internet users (87 percent of people surveyed) looked online for health information.


"There is pressure from marketplace to perform and meet patients' needs in ways there haven't been in the past," says Tom Lee, the chief medical officer of Press Ganey, a South Bend, Ind.-based software vendor that allows providers to survey patient satisfaction. "Meeting patients' needs hasn't exactly been front and center in eras past."


FAIR OR NOT?


Docs have differing opinions on whether or not online reviews help or hurt them. While he is an advocate of patients being involved in the decision-making process, Pasternak notes that providing someone with healthcare isn't exactly the same as providing them with a good meal.


"Healthcare is definitely a service industry and we're here to make patients and their families happy … but in many ways, it's a different model than having a restaurant or hotel. Oftentimes, a patient may request something … and it may not [be] appropriate or needed. It puts us in a situation where we know we will be judged, you kind of have to balance what the patient wants with what they really need," Pasternak says.


Nash adds that physicians are committed to excellent customer service, but there is a lot of skepticism that this is a valid way to check how they are doing. Lee says that in some cases, physicians have every right to be irked. "Who wouldn't be angry with ratings based on a small number of patients, many of whom weren't their patients in the first place or were biased toward negativity," Lee says.


Despite the flaws and an overall weariness toward online reviews, some physicians are embracing the change. Braun says many providers welcome the opportunity, as long as it's a fair dialogue. "As physicians, our first and foremost concern is the patient's well-being and this will trump the concern of getting a fantastic online review or avoiding a less than ideal one," he says.


Tod Baker, CEO of MDValuate, which provides physician performance analytics based on consumer-facing data, sees a generational divide between the providers who are OK with online reviews and the ones who are against it. "In my experiences, younger docs seem to be more acclimated to consumerism … It's easier for them to swallow. Some older docs have embraced it, but some are still fighting, kicking, and screaming. The ones closer to retirement … they think they can ride it out. Younger than that … they realize this is here to stay and part of their career," he says.


Baker adds that most physicians would prefer to be rated on quality outcomes, rather than something that could be construed as arbitrary. In that regard, Yelp announced it is teaming up with ProPublica, a non-profit, research journalism organization, to provide statistics-based care information, compiled through CMS databases, on a care facility's website.


HERE TO STAY


So how should physicians treat this emerging phenomenon? Whether they accept it or not, all experts agree that it is here to stay. Other than those in Baker's scenario who are close to retirement, the physician of the future will have to deal with being judged through a computer screen moving forward.


Many, like Aaron Braun, the medical director at SignatureCare Emergency in Dallas, advocate for a simple solution: "Every provider and their staff should strive to provide a great patient medical experience by being compassionate, empathetic, and delivering great care. This should usually result in positive online reviews," he says.

Pasternak tries to take the extra step. If someone seems agitated, he'll make sure he takes more time to figure out what he can do to make the experience better.  "I've been trying to be just a little more proactive with patients, especially if I sense they may not be satisfied, so we can just avoid the whole issue to begin with," he says.

He also has used bad online reviews to improve his processes. He had a bad review with the way a referral process was done and implemented changes to ensure it wouldn't happen again.


Taking a proactive approach is one that many believe in, even if it's something a little simpler, as in 'Pasternak's case, or something more aggressive.


"Providers should take ownership and take control of this and do it right," says Press Ganey's Lee. "By doing it right I mean, they should be trying to survey as many patients as possible."


Nash's organization has gone down that path. The medical group electronically surveys patients on their experience and posts each physician's ratings on their page. Nash says NorthShore-LIJ's process, unlike Yelp, HealthGrades, or Vitals, ensures that the patient was actually seen by that physician. The group is using these surveys to motivate physicians (see related sidebar).


Oliva at Nuance says there is something to the motivational benefits of being reviewed in this manner. "Physicians are motivated by reputation even stronger than most professions. Making this information transparent to them will get them to move, more than throwing dollars at them," he says.


THE OLD FASHIONED WAY


For organizations like NorthShore-LIJ Medical Group, which is owned by a large health system, embracing transparency is a matter of delineating the right resources. For smaller physician practices, those kinds of resources are not available. They have no choice but to live with Yelp, HealthGrades, Vitals or some other website as their source of being reviewed.


For those practices, they can conquer their pages with, as Braun implied, good old-fashioned care. Baker says he believes that 90 percent of the issues on those sites come down to better interpersonal skills. "If you actually make eye contact, smile, walk people to their room … it's [basic] patient/human-being interaction. If you do those things, you can manage [most] of this," Baker says.

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Strategies to Market Your Practice for Success

Strategies to Market Your Practice for Success | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Any successful realtor knows how important it is to stage a home to attract the right buyer — the same principal applies to medical practices. There are tons of ways you can "stage" a practice to attract the right patients; some are legally required, some are practical, some are fun, and some are just plain smart-business. One of the key ways to stage your practice for success is your marketing program.


Many practices have interpreted their professional responsibility as an obligation to see and treat virtually any patient who can use the telephone and present his body in their office. But this can lead to a revolving door of acute patients, rather than long-term patients, and can leave you stressed and strap your practice marketing budget.


I am not suggesting that if you have the capacity to serve those seeking care, you deny them access. What I want you to do is to stage your practice for success by identify characteristics of those patients you especially enjoy serving, and make a specific marketing effort to attract and retain those patients.


Patients that you especially enjoy seeing are called "ideal patients." Every practice, and possibly even practitioner, will have a different set of qualifiers that create their ideal patient. There are a few qualities that universally belong on all ideal-patient profiles. All ideal patients are patients:


• You enjoy working with;


• That need your help;


• Who will happily pay what you are worth (privately, via insurance, or a combination); and


• That will get great results from the services you can or do offer.


Now taking a look at just that short list of criteria, can you imagine what it would be like to have a practice full of these types of patients? I challenge you to stage your practice for success by taking the steps to identify and market it to your ideal patient, rather than casting so large of a net that you are seeing patients you don't enjoy seeing, and who don't stick around your practice.

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Physicians Shouldn't Fall Prey to Unsustainable Stress

Physicians Shouldn't Fall Prey to Unsustainable Stress | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

New developments in science and technology all but guarantee that barring some catastrophe, you're likely going to live longer than you currently presume. Perhaps you'll reach 100. Medical breakthroughs already in the pipeline, that seem as if they are more akin to Star Trek than today, promise an astounding new age.

Coming developments

• Major victories in the onslaught of AIDS, including genetic therapies that offer a high cure rate.

• At least partial recovery from spinal cord injuries via the development of artificial nerves.

• The development of artificial body parts that function as well as or better than the original parts, and are visibly undetectable as synthetic.

The unforeseen

Even if you can't see it now, you might find yourself taking time off to travel the world. You might retire and then come out of retirement a few times. At 86 or 92, you might decide to run for political office. After all, there will be a large constituency of your contemporaries who will have no problem voting for a fellow octogenarian.

While stress can certainly shorten a life span, most people still realize something close to their estimated life span. What counts is the quality of your life on the way there. Suppose I told you that you would live to be 116, but it would be with the same amount of stress that you're experiencing currently. Would you do it? Would you want to? The quest of most rational people is to live a long, happy, healthy life with relative grace and ease.

Dead men do tell tales

I found the observations of Dr. William R. Maples, PhD, in describing suicide victims to be captivating. Maples, a forensic researcher, diagnosed how and when people died. In "Dead Men Do Tell Tales," he said, "Many of the skeletons that come into my laboratory belong to suicide victims who behaved like shy hermits in their final hours."

"Usually they are found in remote out-of-the-way places. People often go to some hidden place to kill themselves, whether from a desire to act alone and unhindered, or because they wish simply to disappear in solitude, spending their last moments in reflective silence."

Would these individuals have killed themselves if they had attained reflective silence throughout their days? Was their wish to die alone, merely an ill-advised "solution" to their stresses? How would their lives have unfolded if they knew effective ways to find solace and tranquility in the here and now, at work, at home, and in all places in between?

Be true to oneself

Physicians are experiencing greater levels of stress, and less control over their professional lives. Not only that, stress has become the malady of our generation, and it's desirable not to follow the crowd. Instead draw upon your experience, knowledge, and instinct to carve your own path; you will encounter less stress if you are less swayed by prevailing norms. Think and act based on your ever-developing internal guidance system.

Certainly you accept and rely upon input from the outside world; you can't help but do so. You also determine what is relevant to you and what is not, and ultimately, what is appropriate for you and what is not.

When you fully acknowledge the circumstances and events as your life unfolds, and when you fully acknowledge your ability to make appropriate choices, you feel a greater sense of control, every day, and throughout your life — which could well extend for many decades.

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Newscenter - Online reputation management for physicians

Newscenter - Online reputation management for physicians | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

As more patients go online to find information about physicians, your reputation is being built and managed on the Internet. And like it or not, your online reputation plays a role in acquiring new patients and maintaining trust with existing patients and colleagues. It is imperative for physicians to have a plan and focus on online reputation management.


Online reputation management is the process of preventing and repairing threats to your online reputation. It is done by tracking what is written about you and using techniques to address or moderate the information on search engine result pages or in social media. The goal is to promote positive or neutral content while suppressing negative content.


For physicians, online reputation management involves addressing information in three areas:


  1. information found on search engine results pages (Google);
  2. information found in social media (LinkedIn, FaceBook, blogs); and
  3. information on rating sites, such as Vitals, HealthGrades, Rate MDs, Yelp, and Angie’s List.


Recently, a physician received an email from a company offering online reputation management services to help him mitigate negative online reviews on sites such as Yelp, Google, and health care review sites such as Vitals.


There are hundreds of companies out there offering these services. However, physicians are urged to use extreme caution when choosing a reputation management company. Some companies engage in questionable techniques that could lead to disciplinary action by the Texas Medical Board (TMB).


Specifically, the company that emailed this physician said they “will post reviews for our clients to over 40 social media web sites . . . We post up to 25 reviews per month.”


This claim is alarming in the context of medical practice. How are they managing to post reviews from the patients of a particular physician? Are they making up reviews and then posting them? It is unethical and dishonest to post reviews on these sites that are not from actual patients. Physicians are held to a different standard than other businesses, and posting fake patient reviews is problematic. Doing so would also violate TMB advertising rules, as this type of advertising (and the TMB does consider this to be advertising) would be considered “misleading.”


Here are a few techniques for managing your own online reputation.

 Know what is being said. Conduct web searches on yourself and your practice regularly. Review the first 30 hits of the search. (Any hit past 30 is generally considered extraneous and not likely to be read.) (1) Among the top 30 hits, what are these sites saying about you? Continue to monitor these online discussions.


 Know what you can and cannot do about negative reviews.  Because of health care privacy laws, physicians cannot respond to online reviews. The fact that a patient’s identity is protected information directly hinders the physician’s ability to refute a complaint. Simply acknowledging publicly that the complaining party is a patient breaches confidentiality and violates HIPAA.


Physicians can consider giving patients more constructive ways to offer their feedback. Conducting a patient survey, for example, would be a good way for patients to express their dissatisfaction and feel empowered.


Another option is to talk to the patient directly if you can identify who made the comment. This should be done in person or over the phone. Begin by asking the patient why he or she is dissatisfied.


It is also a good idea to investigate the patient’s complaints. Is the complaint legitimate? Was the problem with a procedure, a staff member, or the patient's wait time? Can the problem be fixed?


 Optimize your site for search engines. Optimizing your site for search engines will ensure that anyone typing in your name or your practice name will see your web site at the top of the search list. Optimizing your site involves creating comprehensive and targeted meta tags and web site page titles that help search engines index your site. More sophisticated techniques include editing your site’s content, HTML, and associated coding; removing barriers to the indexing activities of search engines; increasing inbound links; or purchasing related web addresses.


Create your own blog. You cannot control what other people say about you online, but you can create your own story and your own content. Your blog could be as simple as one 300-word post per week. The content could be about services you are offering to patients, the importance of getting a flu shot, or any other health topic that is relevant to your patient base.


 Create a LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile is another aspect of your online presence that you create. Add information about where you went to school, your specialty, and your practice. Make your profile public so that patients and potential patients can learn about you in a way you can control.


Take advantage of that “thank you.” The next time you receive a thank you note or email from a patient or family member, ask that person to post their comments on your blog, on your LinkedIn profile, or on physician rating sites.


 Keep in mind that with the prevalence of smartphones and tablet PCs, patients can post a review of you — a positive or negative review — at anytime and from anywhere. Even from your waiting room. Don’t ignore what’s being said.

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Online Reputation Management: Doctors and Dentists Guide to Fixing Bad Reviews

Online Reputation Management: Doctors and Dentists Guide to Fixing Bad Reviews | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The number of reviews for health care providers online is growing exponentially and at an accelerating pace. Betting against this trend is foolish, yet managing your reputation online can be a time-consuming task. And once effective cease & desist letters to remove misleading or false reviews can receive large amounts of negative publicity from online newspapers and avid defenders of CDA 230 of the Communications Decency Act – which holds harmless those companies hosting such
user generated content.


If you search Google for your name you will see the following:

  • Your own website (hopefully).
  • Various review sites such as Insider Pages, Dr. Oogle, Yelp and others.
  • Search directories happily capturing traffic on searches for your name.


Review sites and search directories are trying to sell advertisements based upon people searching for objective reviews on your practice and others offering the same service. That means your current patients looking up your phone number or address in Google are blasted with ads for potentially negative reviews and ads from competing practices in your immediate neighborhood (Google is getting very good at Geo-Targeting down to the zip code).


A more alarming situation is if a review site has one or more bad reviews visible associated with your practice.


Many private practitioners are under the assumption that the web traffic they get is from searches for keywords such as “Dentist San Francisco, Ca” (Broad Keywords) by examination you will you’re your name (Brand Keywords) being actively and regularly searched by your current patients base and potential patients.


If you have patients, chances they ARE or will be talking about you on the Web.


You cannot really 100% stop bad reviews on review sites but you can execute a strategy to defend yourself and voice your own perspectives as balance, hopefully a dominant perspective that is the primary “voice” of your name & brand online. The irony is that private practices have been toiling for years (some decades) to care for their patients, having collected numerous Thank You letters and cards.

So, What Can You Do?

Ideally, this is handled by having hundreds of pages that you control that Google can find under a search for your name.


Do this by creating a Blog. Blogs are cheap to build and easy to maintain. Search Engines also love the dynamic nature of a Blog – when’s the last time you added new content to your website as is required now of competitive keyword markets on Google? Chances are, a low-cost Blog will eventually out-rank your static website (and many others) over time. Best of all, you’ll show your community and your patients (as well as future patients) that you care enough to have a voice online and adopt new technologies.


A blog offers a great avenue to pass on details about your practice such as new equipment you spent so much to get or new skills you or your staff have attained.


Transcribe your patients’ testimonials online and on your Blog. And add functionality on your Blog where your patients – if they have a gripe – can come to you first. Because if they have no alternative but to go onto another site – that negative review (even if the patient was having a very bad day) can be permanent!


Every page on a blog can be set up to be visible to the various searches on your name to where it can in time produce hundreds of potential pages that can be found under a search for your name.

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5 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation

5 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Online Reputation Management for Doctors can be more crucial than  any other industry. In this information age reviews can make or break a practice. Follow these tips below and get the recommendations that match your skill set.


1)      Ask Your Happy Patients to Write a Review: Don’t be afraid to ask, because it certainly won’t hurt if your patient is leaving happy. Follow up with your patients – you can ask them directly for a review, or you can point them to a  website like healthgrades.com, vitals.com or ratemds.com


2)      Post Your Positive Reviews: In your office on a bulletin board, your website, blog and social media. The more attention you drive to the good, the less attention will be given to the poor.


3)      Google Yourself: Search for your name both for text and in images. Also, set up aGoogle Alert and you’ll get new results emailed to you based on the search criteria you specify. You’ll be notified immediately if any new reviews pop up.


4)      Get Active on Social Media: Social media is more relevant in today’s purchasing process. Get engaged with your followers to foster better relationships with the people who care enough to post online about their experience.


5)      Respond to Negative Reviews: Don’t just ignore them, because they won’t go away. Responding to negative reviews shows that you care about your patients, even and especially about the ones that left unhappy. But don’t just apologize; you need to make sure your response is well thought out, sincere, and that it addresses the issues and explains why future patients will not experience the same issues in the future.

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Physician Online Reputation Management

Physician Online Reputation Management | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Physician review sites like Vitals, RateMd and Yelp have become increasingly important in the digital medicine revolution.  Patients are relying more and more on the input of other patients to help them make decisions on a medical specialist.  In most instances, prospective patients are finding a physicians website and then cross referencing their services with review sites to solidify whether or not they should make an appointment.  Ensuring your online reputation is managed properly has become a science in and of itself.


Sadly, review sites have become a Pandora’s Box for disgruntled consumers.  One study showed that dissatisfied consumers are 3 times more likely to leave a review than satisfied customers.  This is likely due to the cathartic feeling many consumers may feel after bashing a product or, in your case, a physician.  After that review has been posted many feel vindicated in knowing they may have permanently damaged your reputation by leaving an indelible smudge on your online reputation.


So, how do you avoid this seemingly inevitable pitfall?  First, let’s review what NEVER to do in regards to reviews.


Directly Responding To A Negative Review


For many physicians seeing a negative review immediately puts them on the defensive and they feel the need to publicly refute these claims.  This is one of the worst mistakes you can make.  Publicly addressing this gives other potential patients the idea that you are petty and self-righteous.  I know it may be hard to sit idly by while a patient misrepresents a series of events or experience with your practice.  However, going on the message board and defending yourself lets patients know you can more about your online reputation than you do your patients.

Inherently, we know your online reputation is important but the potential patient can never know that.  Your results and reviews have to seem organic and not micro managed or orchestrated.


Instead, try and do the research as to what patient left that review.  It may take some looking through your records, but with some digging you can usually narrow it down.  Once you have established who the patient is, reach out to them directly whether it be via phone or email.  Let them know that you saw their review and that you are aware of their disappointment and vigorously apologetic.  Offer to rectify the complaint with another consult at no cost or recommending another specialist for them.  Do not be afraid to be personal and say things like, “As a medical professional my primary concern is my patients.  Seeing reviews like this really makes me evaluate my bedside manner and helps me improve my demeanor for future patients.”


The most important thing to convey is that their grievance has been taken into consideration and will help you in the future.  Many times the patient will supplement their original review and note that you reached out to them personally.  Many others will remove the review altogether.


Patients Can Smell It From A Mile Away


Most physicians believe that a slew of gleaming 5 star reviews is the best way to capture new patients from a review site.  Wrong.  By nature, most people are inherently skeptical and pessimistic.  Many only visit review sites to validate their preconceived notions of a product or service.  Sadly, no one believes in perfection.  If patients see nothing but overwhelmingly positive reviews about you they are going to become suspicious.

This may seem counterintuitive as 5 stars is always better than 4 stars.  However, it is a matter of plausibility.  A 4 star review is often more plausible if the only complaint was something a patient would reasonably expect.


For instance, an effective 4 star review would be:


“Dr. Smith was great.  He explained why I was in so much pain and took the time to go over all of the things I could do at home to relieve my pain.  We also discussed surgery but he wanted to wait and make sure we had gone through all of the conservative treatments first.  My only complaint was that my appointment was at 5:30pm but I was not seen until 5:45pm.  Other than that Dr. Smith was great and I would definitely recommend him.”

You lost a star, but it is negligible because the review was so positive.  The only complaint was a longer wait time than expected.  However, this is nothing new to anyone who has ever been to a physician’s office.  The key here was plausibility.  As a potential patient, I believe this person is real and I believe their assessment of their interaction with you because of the slight imperfection.


Leaving Fake Reviews


Many practices have taken to leaving fabricated reviews that reflect positive reviews of patients that never existed.  Although this may seem like a good idea it is irresponsible in terms of ethics.  I know it seems like an easy way to bolster your reputation but I urge you not to engage in this shameful practice.

Also, many review sites have become savvy to this tactic and have begun tracking ISP’s to determine whether or not these reviews are valid.  If a review site sees an abundance of reviews being left from the same ISP and location it may flag your page.  If prospective patients find out you have been lying about your reviews they are also going to wonder what else you may be lying about.  Your credentials?  Your skills?  Your expertise?


Furthermore, there are legal ramifications for leaving fake reviews:

The FTC has the following guidelines for patient reviews:

  • All reviews must be truthful and not misleading in any way

  • Even paid endorsements are considered to be deceptive if they make false or misleading claims


If the FTC or BBB find that your practice has been posting fake or deceptive reviews online, or that they are being compensated for the activity, you could face a hefty fine.


This is also true for leaving negative reviews on competing physicians review sites.

Many review sites, such as Vitals, will allow you to hide or remove 1-2 reviews that you feel are invalid or fake.  Other sites allow you to contest a review if you can prove that it is not genuine.  It is always best to attempt to hide these reviews first as attempting to deal with the Customer Service teams on these sites is an exercise in futility.  Generally, their response is that they are not responsible for the reviews left on your page as long as the site has deemed them to be credible.  “Credibility” is usually based on a proprietary system that the site uses to crawl reviews.

Another thing to be aware of is that Yelp has a filtering system that posts some reviews and not others, according to a recentForbes.com article.

“My wife, a Realtor, had a similar experience: ‘They seem be wary of first-time reviewers. If your first review is negative then they let you post other reviews, but if your first review is positive then they remove it. The same goes if all your reviews are positive.’

She went on: “I called Yelp after a business associate posted a positive review about me which was later removed. They hinted that if I advertised on Yelp this may not have occurred.”

A case can be made that this borders on extortion.


A Practical Solution


With many of my clients I have faced the daunting task of cleaning up their online reputations after years of mismanagement.  In response to this I created a simple process that has worked incredibly well.

I created a card that is slightly bigger than a business card that physicians give to a patient as they are leaving the office.  This card thanks them for coming in, includes the practices phone number and also encourages them to leave a review on one of the physician review sites and includes a short link to each site.

The most important thing about using this system is what I call “The Moment”.  This occurs when the patient is exiting the exam room and you know that they are ecstatic.  It is at this point where you need to break the confines of the doctor patient relationship, look them in the eye, shake their hand and genuinely thank them for coming in.  During this time is when you say to them, “I am truly thrilled that you are so happy.  Here is a card with my number on it.  If you need anything please do not hesitate to call.  Also, if you want to leave a review just take a look at the back of the card.”

The patient is so flattered by your handshake and sincerity that they are now exceedingly likely to leave a positive review  The key is to encourage the right patients to leave reviews.  These are the patients that you know are happy and are willing to go the extra mile for you.  The success rate of these cards is astounding but it is predicated on your ability to captivate them in “The Moment”.

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5 Tips for Improving Your LinkedIn Profile - CompHealth

5 Tips for Improving Your LinkedIn Profile - CompHealth | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Do you use LinkedIn to connect with colleagues? This social network is a great way to display your work experience, showcase your unique skills and find a new position at a hospital or other healthcare facility. Whether you’re looking for a new job or just want to make your work history more appealing, these five tips can help you improve your LinkedIn profile:


  1. Include a professional headshot with your profile. The first thing people will notice is your photo, so make sure it’s high-quality and reflects the industry in which you work. While it’s not necessary to have a studio-quality photo, your profile picture should have a simple, monochromatic background and be cropped from your shoulders up. Business attire such as a blazer, collared shirt and tie is recommended, but a photo taken in your lab coat is also appropriate.
  2. Use the headline section to list your current position or promote the job you’re looking for. By default, LinkedIn will fill this section with your current job. However, you can customize it by clicking the Edit button at the top of your profile. If you’re in the market for a new position, include a description with specific keywords employers are looking for. For example, you could write “Family practice doctor with 20 years of clinical experience” so that your profile would show up in both LinkedIn and Google search results.
  3. Write your descriptions in clear, conversational language. Though your colleagues may be familiar with technical terms and medical acronyms, a hiring manager at a hospital or clinic may find these confusing. Spell out even the most common abbreviations, like PA or NP, on first reference and list all relevant experience in the summary section of your profile. Be sure to write in the first person at all times to keep your descriptions friendly and easy to read.
  4. Be sure to include contact information on your profile. Prospective employers and other friends can get in touch with you through InMail (LinkedIn’s email system), but the contact information section on your profile is a great place to list an email address, relevant blog link or even a cell phone number if you’d like to be contacted. Remember that everything you post in this section is public, so keep your contacts (and prospective contacts) in mind as you update it.
  5. Set a customized profile URL you can share easily. If you haven’t already done so, edit your profile URL so it includes your name instead of letters or numbers. Doing this makes your profile more professional and also allows you to add the link to your signature line or blog so others can connect with you on LinkedIn.


These simple tips can help your profile stand out to both colleagues and employers — and they can also help you gain more confidence in promoting the unique talents you bring to the healthcare industry.

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Google+ for Physicians: A Free Tool for Reputation Management

Google+ for Physicians: A Free Tool for Reputation Management | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

With the expansion of rich information found on social media and review websites, the modern patient is empowered like never before. Researching physicians is as simple as browsing for a car or laptop: search engines and rating websites provide current or former patients a platform for sharing their experiences. Reputation management is a global process that begins and ends with networking sites like Google+. Social media is changing the healthcare game into something much more interactive. That is an exciting concept for professionals looking to amp up their referral systems.


Doctor review websites


Why Online Reputation Matters in Healthcare
People are increasingly referring to mobile devices to perform research online. A study by the Pew Research Center suggests that one in five people who use the internet to find a doctor rely on physician ratings.


The flip side of an internet presence is the potential for damaging feedback – that is the basis of reputation management. Any brand or physician should habitually search its name on Google to look for negative reviews or comments. In the medical world, this is how doctors keep up on what their patients are saying about them and what future patients see.


How does Social Media Fit into Healthcare?


A social media page on Google+ adds a way for doctors to better connect with the public. It’s an upbeat way to manage professional reputation and improve patient care. Patients see the bond with their physician as a very personal one. They appreciate the opportunity to vocalize their satisfaction or frustration with a specific physician or experience. Social media creates an e-patient scenario that allows the physician to promote healthy living, generate trust, and market the healthcare brand. For a doctor, time is in short supply, but fostering a positive reputation online allows you to stay ahead of the curve.

Building a Social Media Voice


The process of developing a “voice” will differ among physicians and service lines. A doctor with a full practice might spend only one hour a week on Google managing his online reputation, while a new cosmetic surgeon will need to commit much more time to creating a brand. Other doctors use their online voice to educate and promote wellness as a way to further their patient’s quality of care. Most businesses, medical or otherwise, realize the power of a professional website. Social media is just another tool to amplify that voice.


Doctor on twitter


What about Referrals?


Engaging with one person through social media translates into interaction with friends and family at the same time. Social media takes word of mouth to the next level. Consider some practical tips for using social media healthcare to enhance referrals:


Research your options – This is critical factor. Many healthcare facilities and organizations have specific rules and guidelines about social media. Take the time to investigate social media polices that affect your strategy to build an online presence.


Privacy is key in social media – Patient privacy is paramount, but it is easy to lose sight of that fact when interacting with a computer screen. Keep in mind the number of eyes that see posts on a social media page. This includes other patients and family members in addition to healthcare administrators, government bodies and content journalists.
Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer – Include an upfront disclaimer on all social media healthcare pages and posts. If communicating with patients through social media, such as during an hour-long Q&A on Twitter, point out that you are not providing a medical diagnosis or treatment.


Seek expert advice – Companies that specialize in reputation management are popping up every day. Find a firm that creates strategies to develop a social media voice. They can handle some of the preliminary legwork and ease you into the process.


Don’t mix business with pleasure – Keep separate social media accounts for your personal communication. If you use Facebook or Twitter to stay in touch with friends and family, don’t use them to foster a professional online reputation. This is as much a safety concern as business advice.


Conclusion


There is a new generation of patients out there, and they are more than just internet-savvy – they are internet-reliant. Doctors need to understand that reputation management and generating referrals online are now a concrete component of digital marketing. The internet, and specifically social media, is part of the modern medical practice.

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Six Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction Scores

Six Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction Scores | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Large physician practices and hospitals already have a portion of their payments linked to patient satisfaction. Over the next few years, it will be an integral portion of physician payment, including penalties possibly dwarfing those under meaningful use. More about this program, known as the Clinician & Group Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) can be found on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's website.

Here's the government's hypothesis in a nutshell:


• Patients who like their doctors are more likely to be compliant patients;

• Compliant patients are healthier patients;

• Healthier patients are less expensive; so

• Physicians with satisfied patients should be paid more than physicians with dissatisfied patients.

The Affordable Care Act introduced a different set of quality metrics than used by the Institute of Medicine (IOM): quality, patient satisfaction, and payment. Quality is a key element with both programs, but there's an important difference with the reform law: your patients are the arbiters of quality. Quality more or less equals patient satisfaction.


What's being measured?


CG-CAHPS measures the patient experience, an expansive proxy for quality that takes into account the following:

• Timely appointments

• Timely care (refills, callbacks, etc.)

• Your communication skills

• What your patient thinks about you

• What your patient thinks about your staff

• Your office running on schedule

I have been in enough medical practices — both as a patient and as an administrator — to know there's a method to this madness. It's less about the care and more about the caring. Here's what I suggest for improving your quality measures via these proxies.


1. Hire sunshine.


I can train anyone* to do anything in our office, but I can't train sunshine.  Look to hire positive and happy people, particularly for roles with lots of patient interaction. Your patient satisfaction — and thus, your "quality" — will improve. You'll also find a cost-saving benefit to this hiring tactic: employee turnover will shrink.


2. Start on time.


CG-CAHPS asks patients whether they were seen within 15 minutes of their appointment times; it's even underlined for emphasis. Physicians who start on time are more likely to run on time, so have your feet set before you start running.


3. Set patient expectations.


It's helpful to share with patients the FAQs about your practice so that they know what to do for refills, after-hour needs, appointment scheduling, etc. By making these answers available on your website, on your patient portal, and in your print materials, you'll better align patient expectations with patient experiences and thereby score better on quality surveys.


Some patients gauge quality by whether or not they get the antibiotic they think they need. It's helpful for primary-care physicians to include education on antibiotic overuse in their patient education materials.

Along these lines, it is important for your patient to know what to expect after their visit in terms of test results, follow-up visits, etc. I receive more complaints about the back end of our patients' experiences than anything else. Make sure you and your staff do not drop the ball as you near the goal line.


4. Listen with your eyes.


Nothing says "I don't care" like having your physician focus on a computer screen rather than on the patient. This is particularly true in the first couple of minutes of each visit, and especially important with new patients. One virtue of using medical scribes is that you can listen with your eyes a whole lot more.


5. Put your staff in their place.


Your staff has an important bearing on the patient experience. I'm a big fan of letting them know their actions influence quality. It's pretty cool, for me as a mere bureaucrat, to know that I can improve quality simply by being friendly and helpful to our patients. Make sure your staff knows that making a patient's day is a beautiful act.


6. Monkey see, monkey do.


Staff will follow your lead. If your thoughts and actions emphasize running on schedule, being kind to patients and their families, and not dropping balls, they'll be stronger teammates for you.


Patient satisfaction has always been a gauge of quality, just as patient referrals remain the lifeblood of most practices. Treat this next wave as an opportunity to show off the caring that has always been a big part of the medical care you offer your patients.

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Patient Care Skills Can Aid Physicians at Negotiations

Patient Care Skills Can Aid Physicians at Negotiations | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The first question we usually ask physician negotiators might sound simple, but it isn't. When you're in a negotiation, whether with a payer, employer, or other entity, whose perspective are you using? Whose needs and problems are you considering throughout the negotiation?


Whose viewpoint are you thinking about?

As physicians, this thinking is natural in the clinical environment. When speaking with a patient, whose perspective do you have in mind at that encounter? Whose needs are you focused on at that time? Naturally, we are focused on the patient's needs and work to find a solution to their problems.


You might not realize it, but you are already practicing two important aspects of negotiations: Keep the proper perspective and have a mission and purpose statement focused on the other individual. As we went through medical school and residency, we were trained to act with the other's best interest in mind as we make decisions in the clinical setting. These same skills can be very useful to us at the negotiation table.


Understanding of Patients and Negotiating Parties


If you had the other side's best interest at heart, how do you think you would approach their problems? What if you honestly desired to find a solution for their needs? What if you aimed to solve their problems?

It seems to us, whenever we begin to talk about negotiations, our human nature creeps in and takes hold. Our own self-interests begin to bubble to the surface. We become focused on ourselves — on our needs. Sometimes, we are so focused on our needs and problems, we fail to see how we can solve the other side's problems. We miss the point of being at the negotiation table.


Who we are focused on is vitally important to a successful negotiation. Many skilled negotiators work to manipulate and leverage our own self-interests for their benefit. They may dangle all sorts of carrots in front of you because they're focused on themselves and want to benefit themselves by manipulating you. You may use sticks instead of carrots. Neither side makes much progress. It can also be difficult for you not to do the same to them. How good do people feel after they perceive they've been manipulated? How successful will the performance of a contract be if either party feels manipulated or had leverage used against them?


So, what's the alternative? To be completely focused on their needs. We do this as physicians each and every day. The same sort of results can occur in any negotiation too.


A recent example of this comes mind. A practice was negotiating a service agreement with a moderate-sized hospital for a particular call service. The hospital desired to pay less for the call services than the practice was willing to offer. The practice felt the scope of the service proposed by the hospital was too large for the payment structure. Rather than focusing on their needs, the practice sought to better understand the needs of the hospital. They asked probing questions so they could understand the real needs of the hospital. They were not certain the hospital's administration truly understood their own needs. Rather than fighting with the hospital for a dollar amount the practice wanted for the proposed scope of call, they approached the situation from the hospital's viewpoint.


In doing so, they were able to uncover the real needs of the hospital. By asking good questions focused on the hospital's needs, the practice discovered that the decision makers in the hospital had two different ideas about the scope of call services needed. However, these decision makers had never discussed this amongst themselves. By focusing on the hospital's needs, the practice was able to help the hospital administrators see what they really needed in call services. If the practice had been focused on their needs only, they would have missed the needs of the hospital and probably fallen short in their service to the hospital. Ultimately, both sides would be unhappy with the agreement. However, in the end, the practice and the hospital agreed to a smaller scope of call services at a payment amount the practice wanted.


A Needs-Attentive Approach


Similar to interactions with patient, we must put the adversary's needs at the top of our list. Ask, "How can I best serve this customer and solve their problems?" As you begin to ask good questions, you give them the opportunity to develop a picture of their problem. Once they have communicated their problems, you can then match your solution to that problem in terms of the features and benefits you offer.


Physicians are actually lucky in that we already think of others first. How many nights, weekends, and holidays are we sacrificed for others? We are taught to place our patients first — their needs rank highest. When we give our therapy recommendations, we do so because we want them to get better, healthier, and happier. We give advice based upon what's in their best interests, not ours. I believe the majority of physicians are altruistic in nature and genuinely want to help others. However, when it comes to the negotiation table, that altruism seems to dissipate. But bear in mind, there's a wide difference between true altruism and absolute self-sacrifice. Never feel you have to save the other side. Never sacrifice yourself for them.


As we approach a negotiation, our mindset tends to veer towards ourselves and our needs. And as long as we come to a negotiation with a mindset of scarcity, we then focus on our own needs rather than the other person's. That is when each and every word or action becomes an affront to us personally. We become emotional. We get so focused on our needs and what we want out of the negotiation, we fail to really discover their problem and help them solve it. We don't take the time to ask the right questions and discover the other side's needs.

The opposite of this, and the solution we present, is to approach a negotiation with a growth mindset. This allows us to focus on the needs of the other party because what we want is to help them. When that is the goal, it's easy to get what you want.


An important tool to assist us stay focused on them is a mission and purpose statement.


The Mission and Purpose Statement


A mission and purpose statement guides our mindset and allows us to focus on the needs of others. Creating a mission and purpose statement is the first step in any negotiation. First, we determine what needs of the adversary we want to discover. Then, we determine how our features and benefits will fulfill those needs. We revisit this statement before each and every event during the negotiation. It can change over time as we progress in a negotiation and that's OK. However, it is this statement that keeps us focused and prevents us from being taken off track or down some inconsequential path.

In our last piece, we talked about making assumptions and asking good questions. When we focus on the other party, we understand that we don't know everything about them — who they are, what their circumstances are, etc. — and therefore must ask those pointed questions. We also use questions that are based upon our mission and purpose statement to guide our discovery process.


When approaching a negotiation, remember to focus on the needs of the other side. Ask, "Do I really know what their real problems are?" Then, ask, "How do my features and benefits meet their needs?" As a clinician, your statement might be, "To provide the patient with the opportunity to improve their health." During the interview with the patient, we discover what the problem is through questions. A physical exam follows and confirms or eliminates diagnoses. Eventually, we offer a solution to their problem. But each decision and question we ask is based upon a mission and purpose statement. We might not actually have it written down, but it is engrained in our minds.


At the negotiation table, it is a little harder. Frequently, human nature will get away. We can be tempted to focus on our needs. Using a mission and purpose statement, we can stay on track and work to help the adversary. We have been placing others' needs first for our entire careers. To be successful in negotiations, physicians much approach negotiations as they would a patient: be focused on the adversary's needs and problems.


Do this, and you'll begin to have more successful outcomes.


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Physician Online Reputation Management in 2018

Physician Online Reputation Management in 2018 | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

A few years ago, when we first wrote about online physician reputation management there were fewer people writing and reading reviews, especially for physicians and other healthcare experiences. The tide has turned since then and now we're seeing that physician reviews are playing a significant role in the selection of a healthcare provider. Did you know that:

 

  • At least 77% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. - Software Advice
  • 53% of providers looked at physician review websites, likely to understand their patients’ experiences and to improve their practices. - Journal of General Internal Medicine

 

What do you need to do for your reviews to be visible and show positive interactions with patients? 

 

HOW DO CONSUMERS USE ONLINE PHYSICIAN REVIEWS?

 

The truth is we often use them without intending to. When I searched my general practitioner on Google, the physician's website was fourth in the search results, plus there's a huge box at the right on the desktop to feature him in Google. Many won't even get to his website to see what they have to say before exposure to many different reviews, as you see here.

 

We also naturally tend to gravitate towards sites we know and already trust like Health Grades or Yelp. Both of those beat the practice's own site in search results for this doctor. 

 

HOW MUCH DO ONLINE PHYSICIAN REVIEWS AFFECT A PATIENT’S DECISION?

 

Bright Local reports that in 2017, among those who look at online reviews, 68% said a positive review makes them trust a business more.  And negative reviews have almost as big of an effect in the opposite direction with 40% saying that a negative review makes them not want to use that business. 

 

In 2016, the National Research Corporation reported that 47% of consumers indicated that a doctor’s online reputation matters. This percentage is tied with the restaurant industry for #1 among all local business types.

 

The short answer: Physician online reviews matter. A lot.

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR REVIEWS AREN'T ALL FIVE-STARS?

 

If every doctor in the practice has a 4 or 5 star rating on all of the various review sites being monitored by your service provider – then rock on! You don't really need to do much other than just keep on doing what you do. 

 

The sad reality is that no matter how good our intentions we sometimes don't see eye to eye and that can cause a negative review to get published. Here are a few steps to take when a less-than-stellar review shows up online:

 

1) Pause before responding

It's a very personal feeling when you see someone comment about you and your life's work in a negative way. Remember, your response can actually make things worse if it's not carefully crafted and all facts taken into consideration. You don't want to leave a public record of an argument with anyone on a third party website.

 

2) Reach out directly

Whenever possible we recommend the practice call that patient right away and have the discussion offline. That way when you respond online later to state that you saw this and addressed with Mr. X privately because he is very important to you.

 

3) Never delete the bad reviews

You don't want to be accused of trying to manipulate how your reptuation looks by removing anything that's negative. When every review is 5-stars, consumers are likely to  sense that you're curating the results to only show the best ones. You can also start a firestorm on social media if you remove a negative review rather than respond to it publicly. 

 

Whether you do it yourself or you engage a reputation management service, negative reviews should not be ignored. If you’re starting to see a few comments that aren’t as positive as you’d like, it could be a flag that someone at your practice is not interacting well with patients. Or perhaps there’s a problem with your operational flow that has caused some discontent. These are things that can easily be addressed, improving your patient experience and reducing further harm to your personal reputation! 

 

TIPS FOR INCREASING POSITIVE ONLINE PHYSICIAN REVIEWS

1) Use a Service for Online Reputation Monitoring and Reporting

 

Using a service makes it easier to stay on top of what's out there so that you and your staff aren't blind-sided by a negative review. We recommend that you use a service that monitors everything and gives you a regular report or a dashboard you can access at any time. They can also help mitigate some negative reviews from appearing publicly.

 

Your review service can often help with removal of a review, especially if PHI is being revealed. Ask us if you're not sure what kind of review services are out there and what you get with each.

 

2) Make it Someon'e Job to Make Updates and Address Reviews 

 

It's not enough to know what's out there, you'll also need hands to help correct things and address items as they come up in reviews. Most of the online review collection services do not review and update the data. They only aggregate it for you. If you don't have someone you can assign to this, let us know.

 

If you don't choose an online reputation management service, be sure to pay particular attention to these five physician review websites:

  • Healthgrades.com
  • Yelp.com
  • Vitals.com
  • WebMD.com
  • RateMDs.com

Facebook could also play a role if you have reviews enabled on your business' page.

 

3) Do Not Submit Reviews on Behalf of Your Patients

 

Don't do anything that could potentially look like you're stuffing the reviews. Consumers will become suspicious if they see this.  Avoid asking your spouse or children to review you, as well as your employees. You really need actual patients to submit their reviews. Use a follow up email to give them a link for reviews. Some services offer a texting following where reviews can be submitted. 

 

REFERRING PHYSICIANS USE ONLINE REVIEWS

We mentioned at the start that other providers are reading the reviews, especially for physicians they may refer to. While your best referral sources typically know you personally, they want to be sure that their patients are going to find good things about you online, knowing that about three-fourths of them will do a check of the reviews.

Also, be sure your listings and reviews show the correct office address so that your referral sources feel confident that when they refer you their patients can find you.

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

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

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Online Reputation Protection for Physicians

Online Reputation Protection for Physicians | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The first thing to realize is that online physician reviews are written predominately by patients who are either delighted or disgusted by their most recent experience with your practice. As a result, a practice that provides good service most of the time, but occasionally keeps a patient or two waiting for an hour, can easily find itself with a relatively large number of scathing reviews.

 

But even if your practice has been hit by some negative reviews, keep in mind that new patients know that no practice is perfect. The best way to deal with a few negative reviews is to understand what's driving them, to try to anticipate and correct problems, and to build up positive reviews from happy patients to create a more realistic picture.

 

Here are some of our easiest-to-implement tips to improve your reviews:

 

1. Monitor rating sites

Healthgrades, Vitals, and Yelp are good places to start. A tech-savvy person with good judgment can take this on for your practice as "social media lead" — it may only take a few minutes per day to stay on top of reviews and respond as necessary (always encouraging the patient to call and never sharing personal health information online). This can be a great opportunity for a motivated staffer to branch out, improve his skills, and show off what he can do.

 

This person should report back to your whole office on what he finds. Reviews can be a wonderful resource to understand how patients see your practice. Applaud everyone's efforts to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your practice as it's presented online. Make sure to register as the practice owner on sites that allow you to respond to complaints. It's critical to respond quickly, emphasize privacy, and let the patient know how important it is to speak by phone or in person about the issue.

 

2. Don't forget payer directories

I can't tell you why so many payer directories are out of date, but inaccurate ones send many patients to physicians who are out of network; which results in unhappy patients hit with additional expenses they weren't expecting. This task might only take an hour or two every few months, but it might just save you a nasty review.

 

3. Resolve to communicate well with patients

Starting at check-in, simply keeping patients abreast of what to expect next and when to expect it can make all the difference — a patient told that the doctor is running 15 minutes late will be a lot happier than a patient who waits 15 minutes wondering if they'll be waiting an hour. While a doctor shouldn't be kept waiting for a patient to be roomed, it's important that a patient not be roomed long before they are expected to be seen by the physician — time can pass frustratingly slowly stuck in a white room with a poor selection of magazines. Your whole team should be vigilant about keeping patients informed.

 

4. Help patients understand payment responsibility

Many patients end up confused and angry at the practice when hit with unexpected costs, and they often turn online to voice their displeasure. It's in everyone's interest to be clear about what the patient will be expected to pay at their visit — and of course, it's important for your bottom line that your staff is comfortable collecting in a professional manner.

 

5. Check-in at check-out

If you have staff dedicated to checking patients out, they can play a hugely beneficial role by simply and sincerely asking each patient how their visit went. When the practice messes up (and nobody's perfect), having somebody listening to the complaint can make a huge difference. If the patient is really upset, the administrator can personally offer a heartfelt apology.

 

6. Aim to delight

It's amazing to see what a truly service-oriented staff can do. When patients are greeted uniformly by staff who are personally committed to caring for the comfort of each patient, your practice can stand apart from the typical practice where staff seem disinterested and/or too busy to bother. A side benefit of the high-attention-to-patients practice — it's much more pleasant to work at too.

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Three Things Physicians Should Know about Social Media

Three Things Physicians Should Know about Social Media | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Like many Americans, physicians have discovered the value of social media. Whether they seek to market their practices, educate consumers about health concerns, or engage with patients online, many physicians see the potential in an economic way to reach large audiences quickly via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other sites.


Over 70 percent of family physicians and oncologists use social media more than once a month, according to one survey. Another benefit, clearly, is these sites allow physicians to keep up with news and trends relating to health, medicine and patient care.


Physicians, and all healthcare professionals, should understand the risks of using social media improperly, as these risks could easily outweigh the benefits. Using social media inappropriately could lead to a liability suit that could damage a physician’s reputation or could cause the release of confidential patient information.


The release of patient information would violate HIPAA, which requires physicians and all healthcare entities to safeguard what it calls protected health information (PHI). The law defines PHI as any individually identifiable health information that medical practice or any associate of the practice maintains or transmits in any form. Such a broad definition makes physicians, anyone working for the practice and any vendor who contracts with the practice potentially liable if PHI is released to the public.


Several organizations, including the AMA and the American Association of Family Physicians, have published guidelines for social media use. Another excellent source of such guidance comes from the Federation of State Medical Boards, the group that represents the agencies in every state that discipline physicians. The federation’s 14-page Model Policy Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice, is designed to educate state boards on social media. In one section of the guidelines, the federation outlines its recommendations for physicians who use social media and social networking personally and professionally. It recommends following these three steps, saying physicians should:


1. Limit discussions with patients about medical treatment. Therefore, they should never do so on personal social networking sites because anyone with access to these sites could view a physician’s comments about a patient’s care.


2. Provide no information that could identify patients because doing so could be a HIPAA violation.


3. Assume all risks related to the security, privacy and confidentiality of their posts when posting online. Assuming such risk means that when moderating any website, physicians should delete inaccurate information and posts that violate the privacy and confidentiality of patients or that are unprofessional.


Perhaps the best way to sum up the federation’s advice is this — always be professional. Always follow the same principles of professionalism online as you would offline. Use separate accounts for personal and professional social networking sites and for email. This way you can maintain professionalism and confidentiality in your professional postings and still enjoy personal, more casual conversations where appropriate on your personal sites.

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Doctors can establish their online reputation in these 2 ways

Doctors can establish their online reputation in these 2 ways | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

There are two ways that physicians can establish their online reputation. The first way is to use existing physician rating sites. What physician rating sites will do is create a profile page of every single doctor in the United States. This profile will have your name, your contact information, your board certification status, your hospital affiliation, and, of course, some of them allow patients to rate doctors online.

These pages are backed my companies who are experts in search engine optimization, SEO. (That’s the science of ranking high on Google.) Unless you already have a prominent online presence, these pages that get ranked high when your name is Googled can be patients’ first impression of you online. It’s important to go on these sites, claim your profile, make sure that it information is accurate.

A second way to establish your online reputation is to create content about yourself on the web. If you look at a sample Google results page, there are studies showing where readers click on that page.


About a third of readers will click on the very first result. Another third will click on the second or third result. Fewer than 10 percent of readers will even go on to the second page of results, so it’s important to control those top listings of Google when your name is searched for.

We need tools that are powerful in the eyes of Google and allow us to create content about ourselves online. Today, we’re in luck because we have those tools available to us. They are social media platforms: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube. They get ranked high in Google search engines and give us the flexibility to create content about ourselves online.


Defining ourselves online with social media is the most powerful way to establish our online reputation.

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Stop the Conflict in Your Medical Practice

Stop the Conflict in Your Medical Practice | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Squabbling among staff members is common in medical practices. It is more than just an aggravation for the physician. Patients are aware of the ill will and hate it. The squabbling leads some patients to trust certain staff members and insist on dealing with only them, which both decreases productivity and increases staff animosity. Dissension increases risk for the practice because staff members are not wholeheartedly supporting each other. It is a bad situation all around.

Stopping the fighting is simple. It requires only focus and consistent behavior from whoever is in charge. (I didn't say it was easy.) The necessary behaviors of the leader are these:


1. Ask about the desired outcome.


When an employee complains to you about a coworker, ask, "What do you want me to do with that information?" This will let you know the complainer's motive. If the objective is legitimate and for the good of the practice, she will be able to tell you exactly what she'd like to see done. If not, stop the conversation because it cannot lead to anything good.


2. Bring both parties together.


Don't allow one employee to complain about another employee without including both of them in a conversation. If you allow an employee to complain to you privately without facing the object of the complaint, you make all employees suspicious that you participate in gossip and have favorites among your staff. Effective leadership is impossible in that environment.


3. Make sure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.


Lots of dissension results from staff members interfering with one another's work. Maybe they have different standards for a particular task. Make it clear what your standard is, as well as the fact that you are the one who sets the standard.


4. Hold people accountable.


A major source of discord in any environment is subpar performance. Staff members who are allowed to complete work half-heartedly can cause ill will. Hardworking, conscientious staff members have to pick up the slack for these folks. If the good employees don't quit, they will grumble and complain as a way to deal with their frustration.


5. Praise in public, criticize in private.


The behavior you reward is reinforced. If staff members come to you with a disagreement or problem and are able to resolve it effectively, praise them. The rest of the office will get the message.


If a staff member is sniping or two of them are squabbling, publicly make an appointment to meet with them privately. Criticize the behavior and move quickly to developing a resolution. It will be a teachable moment for the rest of the staff, too, because you will have demonstrated that arguing will not be tolerated


6. Terminate any employee who insists on contributing to dissension.


It is actually rare, but there are people who are not willing or able to maintain a positive and supportive attitude. If you are certain that you have been faithful in creating a constructive environment by consistently exhibiting the first five behaviors, get rid of them. One bad apple really can ruin the whole barrel. Just be sure you know which employee is actually the rotten apple.


The bottom line is that no one but the actual leader can create and sustain a positive environment. In a medical practice, that has to be the physician. It is one of the few roles that the physician cannot delegate.

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Doctors and Their Online Reputation

Doctors and Their Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

When a doctor I know recently signed up for a Twitter account, his colleagues began teasing him. “Are you going to tweet what you eat?” one joked.

Their questions, though, soon turned serious. How often was he going to tweet? What would he do if patients asked for medical advice on Twitter? Did he make up a name or use his real one?

“Doesn’t it make you nervous to put yourself ‘out there’?” asked one doctor, a respected clinician and researcher who prided herself on her facility with technology … but only at home. “I refuse to look myself up on Google,” she said. “Quite honestly, I’m not sure what I’d do with what I might find.”

While most doctors have come to terms with the fact that their patients routinely go online for information about what ails them, they remain uneasy about a more recent trend: the Internet is quickly becoming the resource of choice for patients to connect with, learn more about and even rate their doctors. And while many have used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or online medical community sites like Sermo to engage with friends and colleagues, few have communicated with patients as, well,doctors. Most abstain for one simple reason: they aren’t sure how to be a doctor online.

Since starting his blog, KevinMD, nearly 10 years ago, Dr. Pho has become a rock star among the health care set, one of the few doctors recognizable by first name only. A primary care doctor, Dr. Pho presides over a social media empire that includes his blog, now a highly coveted publishing place for doctors and patients, a lively Facebook page and anonstop Twitter stream that has become must-follow fodder for the medical Digirati.

Now he and Susan Gay, a medical publisher, have written a book to help doctors do nearly the same. In“Establishing, Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices,” Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay offer highly organized key points, useful statistics and exuberant testimonials from doctors who have successfully leapt over the digital divide. There is plenty of practical advice, too, on topics ranging from what to post and when to engage, confer or rebuff, to how to decide what might be unethical or T.M.I. (Answer: “Can you say it aloud in a full hospital elevator?”)

The book is an excellent and helpful resource. But what elevates it beyond the category of valuable how-to manual is the passionate call to arms that resonates from all those well-enumerated directions and clearly labeled diagrams. Like it or not, the authors warn, the Internet has profoundly changed the patient-doctor relationship, and doctors must embrace its effects on patient care — or risk losing their own influence.

This is a social media manifesto for physicians.

Doctors need to be on social media because “that’s where the patients are going to be,” Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay state early on in the book. But it’s a wild world out there, they caution, where survival is based not on fitness but on presence. Invoking one of the most contentious health care topics on the Internet, childhood vaccines, they describe how the Internet has put the opinions of celebrities, politicians and “people who took their last science course in high school” on equal footing with experts who have devoted their careers to studying and researching the issue.

But doctors have lost their voice, and therefore their authority, because they have opted to ignore rather than embrace the Internet, the authors say. As a result, they are now saddled with the “much harder job” of dispelling myths and calming patients’ fears. It’s a situation that might have been prevented if doctors, like the celebrities, had stacked the YouTube, blog and Twitter decks, but with information that was confirmed by research and not coffee-klatch chatter.

Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay’s exhortations ramp up when it comes to the area that unnerves doctors most, online rankings. Again, presence trumps absence, and they urge readers to begin “claiming your identity” by Googling themselves. They offer the cautionary tale of a doctor who, only after Googling herself, discovers she has the same name as an eye doctor accused of willfully blinding patients. Armed with this information, the doctor begins using her nickname in person and online, thus differentiating herself from the delinquent doppelganger.

“The biggest risk of social media in health care,” they conclude, “is not using it at all.”

If there is a weakness in the book, it is its tendency to rely on platitudes of self-empowerment and slip into pedestrian prose. But thanks to the heady message in this manual cum manifesto, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be the only one to forgive Dr. Pho and Ms. Gay their literary lapses. Instead I will focus on their earnest appeal, made more compelling every time a patient asks if I or my colleagues blog, tweet or have a Facebook page. There will be all the other doctors who have chosen to care about their patients by working not only on the wards and in the clinics but also online.

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Pearls for Improving Your Online Reputation

Pearls for Improving Your Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The Internet has leveled the information playing field, allowing all members of society access to information about their doctors and their health care. Data reported by Credential Protection indicate that specific doctor names are searched dozens of times to over 50 times daily by patients. Often, patients book surgery with a surgeon and then research the doctor after the appointment.


For medicine, the impact of the telecommunication revolution has been profound. What patients find through Google searches and on social media and online review sites can influence the doctor-patient relationship.


Maintaining a successful online reputation requires three basic components: patient capture, patient engagement, and patient retainment. If all of these components are not strong, doctors will lose patients. If patients cannot find you on the Internet, then from their point of view you do not exist, and you fail to capture those patients. If patients do not feel engaged on social media, then you may not be interesting enough for those patients to seek your care. If patients see bad online reviews, then a tarnished online reputation will drive those patients away. In the digital age, doctors must develop a strong online reputation through these three online components.


Because of the ongoing telecommunications evolution, marketing through the Internet, social media, and doctor- review websites is becoming more cost-effective than traditional advertising modalities such as phonebooks, newspapers, magazine, radio, and television. Online review sites such as Yelp! and Angie’s List have become well-known and serve as a new type of word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age. These sites allow users to leave comments about their customer service experiences, products they have purchased, and other information for other people who may be looking for such advice.


Physicians and their practices are not exempt from these online reviews. Sites that allow patients to talk about their experiences at the doctor’s office and recommend (or not recommend) the practice can be helpful or harmful. Glowing reviews can attract new patients. However, negative or unjust reviews posted by competing doctors or disgruntled patients can affect a doctor’s business and professional reputation, potentially leading to lost patients.


Most current online review sites are unsatisfactory because anyone with a valid e-mail account can leave reviews anonymously. Online review websites that depend mainly on advertising dollars often look unprofessional and may even place competitors’ ads alongside doctors’ profiles. Dealing with slanderous or false reviews can be frustrating and time-consuming.


Unfortunately, I have been a victim of slanderous online reviews. After graduating high school, I devoted 17 years of my life studying to become a physician and surgeon, attaining medical and doctoral degrees at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. I have a distinguished curriculum vitae and have dedicated much of my adult life to serving patients in a professional and ethical manner. One day after the grand opening of my private practice, I was attacked online by an anonymous poster who called me a “money grubber” on a third-party online review site. Most likely I was the victim of a competing doctor or disgruntled associate, although I may never know. This insult was applied to me even though I have spent considerable time seeing patients at the Temecula-Murrieta Rescue Mission at no charge, not billing the patients, and giving glasses away at no cost for those who cannot afford them.


You see, therefore, why I say most current online review sites are unregulated and severely unjust, and they can have horrible consequences for doctors. Online review websites are natural magnets for negative reviews. An outstanding doctor who never has angered one patient may receive no positive reviews, but angry patients can be quick to slander their doctors.


The current state of online reviews may make doctors feel helpless, angry, and frustrated. However, there are seven high-impact things you can do to be proactive and fight against defamation of your name, your reputation, and your credentials.


No. 1: Perform reconnaissance. The first step in fighting the war against slanderous reviews is to be educated on what people find when searching your name. Search your name on Google and see what others will see when searching your name. Monitor the websites that appear on the first page of Google. Use Google Alerts to receive automated emails from Google when there is new information about your name on the Internet. Monitor your online presence often.


No. 2: Erect a brick wall. In search engine management, the term brick wall is applied to a technique used to control the presentation of websites people find when searching your name. When patients search “Andrew Doan” on Google, of the more than 17 million search results, I control and monitor the 9 or 10 websites that appear on the first page of the search. Controlling what people find in this way can draw attention away from less-credible doctor-review sites.


No. 3: Use search engine optimization and management. The use of search engine optimization and management can help raise the websites you want to appear higher in search results. One effective way to accomplish this is to add your practice website address to all social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.


In addition, using social media websites such as Facebook can be an effective way to guide patients to your practice and to engage them in a controlled environment. Patients who “like” or comment on your page are helping you broadcast your practice to their personal connections. This is one form of word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age.


No. 4: Be a good, ethical medical professional. This sounds like common sense, but medical professionals may come to feel entitled and forget that being a good doctor means serving other people. Try to serve others with a caring heart, but without expecting anything in return. Remember that it is a privilege to work in the medical

profession and to be employed during these difficult economic times. Learn to love what you do. Unhappy medical professionals will foster unhappy patients, leading to bad online reviews.


No. 5: Encourage patients to post feedback online. Receiving positive reviews is as easy as asking patients to review your services online. The problem is that there are dozens of review websites, and only a fraction of patients will take the time spontaneously to post reviews online. If you don’t ask, most likely patients will not post reviews for you.


No. 6: The solution to pollution is dilution. Negative reviews are not necessarily bad. We all want to be perfect, but in reality nobody is perfect. A study by researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that in some cases negative publicity can increase sales when a product or company is relatively unknown, simply because it stimulates product awareness.1 Embrace the negative reviews, learn from them, and become a better doctor tomorrow than you were today.


Unfortunately, not all review websites represent true patient reviews; they may be postings by local competitors or slanderous individuals. The solution to negative reviews is not litigation or gag orders, which may expose one to ligation for violating free speech laws, as was seen in a case involving a New York dentist.2 Also, posting of false testimonials to one’s own practice can lead to loss of medical license and a large monetary fine, as occurred in the case of a New York plastic surgeon in 2009.3


The answer to negative reviews is to learn from the review and then accumulate more positive than negative reviews.


No. 7: Encourage the posting of third-party verified reviews. Work with a third-party organization, such as Verified Reviews, that will collect, process, and post reviews on your behalf. One answer to the current review system that naturally attracts negative reviews is to have a credible organization collect, verify, and post reviews to protect both doctor and patients.


First-mover advantage—a marketing term meaning the advantage gained by being the first to take advantage of a particular market segment—is important when encouraging patients to review your medical and professional services. First-mover advantage allows a doctor to accumulate more reviews than the competition.


When patients search for doctors on the Internet, the two most influential factors are the star rating and the number of reviews for a doctor; the higher the star rating and the greater the number of reviews, the greater the competence and value conveyed to patients.

CONCLUSION

The advancement and evolution of information technology is exciting, but it also presents new challenges for physicians and patients. Many patients prefer Internet resources and are likely to use online resources as their primary reference, including searching for, finding, and reviewing doctors. Your online reputation rests in their hands. The advice in this article may help return some of that control to your own.

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Physician Online Reputation Management Strategies

Physician Online Reputation Management Strategies | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

In today’s world, where information can be shared and exchanged freely and with virtually no filter, people are looking increasingly towards the internet for advice on a number of things, from what to wear, to which sports teams they should bet on and even to what doctors they should and shouldn’t be going to.


And while the fact that information like prices, plans, insurance policies and such are available online is certainly a good thing, as people can easily find adequate and convenient treatment for almost any condition, it also means doctors are subject to a lot of evaluations, which are often subjective and not necessarily backed by fact.

Most online reviews, whatever their subject is, tend to be quite short and to the point, and usually not very elaborate. In fact, most of the times, online reviewers on websites like Amazon and eBay stick to just ratings, not even adding a comment. The same kind of trend has been observed for those websites which rate doctors, with most comments proving to be either excessively positive or negative – either way, not particularly helpful.


In a scenario like this, any doctor may get a very bad rating, or a very vague unfavorable review just for taking too long to assist a patient, looking at someone’s girlfriend or any other reason, but since the comment is vague, or there is no comment at all, these ratings may cause huge damage on a medical professional’s career when such damage was unwarranted.


This means doctors need to be extra careful with their reputations these days. They need to not only tick all the right boxes’ both professionally and socially speaking, but they must also go beyond that and be a part of a whole which is as close as possible to perfect – offering the best rates, most competitive plans and accommodation conditions for in-patients.


Furthermore, they need to have a positive social media presence, and possibly even a completely squeaky clean’ life, so that patients can’t find anything which could be perceived negatively about them, and feel safe when leaving their lives in these physicians’ hands.


It may seem unfair to be held to such an unbelievably high standard, but this is the result of the modern social media culture, which was partially molded by celebrity. The only way to stay afloat is to play the game, taking stock of what is actually being said, taking advantage of the good and learning meaningful lessons from negative comments, if at all possible.


However, it all starts in the examination room, so even before you consider your online profile, it is a good idea for doctors to look at the way they behave in their professional setting, and how patients react. While negative comments can stem from just about anything, a number of them is fueled by the sense of being mistreated or disrespected, so taking a few more minutes to listen to patients properly and try to empathize can make all the difference.


And even if these professionals think their capabilities and career speak for themselves, they shouldn’t let them. Instead, they should be proactive, making sure all the information available about them is correct, and creating their own content, even replying to comments made about them in a positive and reassuring manner, so as to counteract any possible damage.


Above all, every doctor should remember that reputations aren’t set in stone. They take years to build and minutes to destroy.

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Managing online reputation for dentists

Managing online reputation for dentists | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

The Internet has become the ultimate symbol of an individual’s right to information and freedom of expression. As a result, there is plenty of good information available on the Internet regarding doctors and dentists. However, along with the good information, there is also the risk of misinformation and negative biases finding its way to the World Wide Web.


The very nature of the Internet ensures so much freedom for every individual that it becomes difficult for dentists to control and manage their professional reputations online. The number of rankings or ratings websites have also increased, and some are focused exclusively on physicians. While these websites present an opportunity for dentists to promote their practices through word of mouth publicity, they also pose the risk of creating unfairly negative pinions against them.


Types of ratings websites


Doctor and dentist rating websites can be broadly classified into four categories. The first is the no-fee sites that offer free information to patients about the listed doctors. Some of these sites earn their revenue through advertising, while others charge a fee to the listed doctors. From a dentist’s perspective, it is relatively easy to control information on such a website because there is a financial tie-up between the site and the practitioner.


The second category of websites are the ones that have no relationship with the doctors, but charge patients a fee for privileged access to information about doctors. Dentists can exercise little or no control over the views and reviews that the website chooses to publish about a practice.


The third category includes insurance company websites, which have doctor reference sections, and the companies give their own ratings to the listed doctors.


The final category includes government-controlled websites that provide information about doctors licensed in the states.


How are ratings determined?


Doctor and dentist rating websites usually follow one of three approaches to develop rankings or ratings. The first involves the use of an algorithm or formula that attaches different weights to different sets of credentials of the doctor, such as education, experience, and any special training. Some sites may differentiate on the basis of the type of dental school a dentist attended. If the doctor has settled a malpractice suit out of court, some sites may consider this as grounds to attach lesser weight to the doctor.


The second approach to determine ratings involves feedback from patients. The website will invite patients to rate their doctors on various parameters. Average ratings for a doctor are then computed on the basis of the patient feedback.


The third approach is a hybrid of the first two, which is a more comprehensive way to develop ratings. However, rating a dentist still remains a highly subjective area because the opinions vary widely from patient to patient. That makes this entire system of online ratings inherently controversial.

Proactive online reputation management


From a practicing dentist’s point of view, it makes a lot of sense to be proactive in protecting and managing his or her online reputation. A growing number of patients are inclined to check out a doctor’s background on the Internet, and it may become an important factor in their decision to choose a doctor. The first challenge for a doctor is to ensure that the ratings and review websites maintain the latest information about the doctor’s practice. Most such sites do not have a system to ask for such updates, and the sites expect the listed doctors to provide updates on their own.


Patients may get mixed up when two or more doctors have the same or similar names. It may lead to misplaced patient reviews and ratings. Sometimes a particular patient may have made an unfair, false, or incorrect accusation, which can be countered only if the doctor takes care to tell his side of the story. Apart from damage control in such instances, dentists should also reach out to ratings and review sites to provide accurate facts so that the chances of misinformation are minimized.


Challenges of anonymous ratings


The Internet offers a great deal of anonymity, which can be misused to make irresponsible, incorrect, or false statements online, without any fear of being held accountable. Many individuals operate under pseudonyms on the Internet. So while they can hide their identity and protect their reputation, they can potentially jeopardize the reputation of a dentist or other professional online. To tackle this challenge, Google Plus has taken the initiative and revoked the ability of users to post reviews anonymously, or even pseudonymously.


While this kind of restriction is a welcome step for most businesses and professions, it poses another unique problem in the area of health care. Patients are usually willing to be most candid when their privacy is protected. Less than 5% of patients willingly give out their full names when providing feedback about a doctor online. Therefore, restriction of their privacy is a dilemma that may discourage patients from providing reviews and ratings about doctors and dentists on respected forums such as Google Plus.

Hire online reputation management experts


Dental practitioners who are looking to grow and expand their practices in their area can no longer afford to ignore the marketing power of the Internet. They should have a professional and dynamic website that creates an outstanding image for the dentist and practice. Secondly, such a website needs to be promoted professionally so that it achieves high rankings on all search engines, which allows the maximum number of local patients to reach the website. Thirdly, the dentist must be able to protect his or her reputation on third party websites on the Internet.


All these tasks can be performed efficiently and cost-effectively with the help of a professional SEO and online reputation management services provider. With the support of recognized experts in this area, it is possible to build an impeccable online reputation for a dentist, while following the highest ethical and professional standards.

It takes years to build an online reputation, and it can take one bad review that goes viral on the Internet to tear it down. With the growing influence of the World Wide Web in our lives, it is a smart move for practicing dentists to take the steps to build and protect their professional reputation online.

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Are You Avoiding Social Media? Maybe You Shouldn't.

Are You Avoiding Social Media? Maybe You Shouldn't. | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

I'm not a big social media user. I don't tweet or Instagram or Snapchat — I'm only on Facebook so I can see what my kids are posting. I figure my coworkers hear enough from me while we're inside the office that they don't need to know every single thing I'm doing outside of it.

I meet a lot of physicians who feel the same way, who do everything they can to keep their professional and personal lives separate. But I recently read a study that made me think a bit differently.


According to CareerBuilder, 35 percent of employers are less likely to interview candidates they can't find online. And that's not just IT folks or sales employers. Nearly 50 percent of healthcare employers look at social media to screen candidates.


So what does this mean to physicians who are considering a new job? It's time to get online.


Start by googling yourself


Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to keep your life off the Internet, chances are good you're still there. Take a second and type your name into Google. You might see a link to your current employer, an old photo from an alumni publication, or the minutes associated with political causes you've donated to. And you will certainly see patient reviews — both good and bad — on websites like HealthGrades.com.


Now put yourself in an employer's shoes. What do these Google results say about you? Do they paint a complete picture of you as a physician? Do they highlight your skills? Your professional accomplishments? Your rapport with patients?


If not, you've got some work to do.


Find the right type of social network


Not all social media networks are created equal. Facebook is great for sharing pictures and stories with those you're close with. Twitter is good if you want to interact with strangers or weigh in on issues in real time. But if you're looking to create a professional profile, I recommend you start with LinkedIn.


LinkedIn is a great place to tell your story. Not only can it house your resume, but it also allows you the freedom to bring your CV to life. You can highlight professional accomplishments, share why you're passionate about medicine, or promote your research. It also allows you to reconnect with former colleagues or friends from medical school who could help you get the inside track on a new position.


Once your profile is complete, potential employers can easily find you online and get a quick snapshot of both your professional experience and who you are as a person. And most importantly — as opposed to online review sites — you control the message.


LinkedIn is not the only option. ZocDoc and Vitals also allow physicians to create a custom profile with photos, credentials, and accomplishments. Because these sites are targeted at consumers, they also include patient ratings.


Be careful of what you share


If you're looking for a new job, or just want to have an impact on what people see when they Google your name, having a social media presence may be a good idea. But once you're online, make sure to think before you post. HIPAA regulations apply on social media, too, so never reveal names of patients you're treating or post photos of things that could identify them; e.g., charts, notes, or X-rays.


It's also smart to keep things positive. A lot of people use social media to vent about their job, boss, or coworkers. Even if these messages never get back to the involved parties, they can be a real turnoff to potential employers.


When in doubt, keep it simple. Maintaining a succinct professional profile on one or two social networks will allow employers to easily find you online and help you present your best self to your next boss.

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What Physicians Should Consider When Managing Their Online Reputation

What Physicians Should Consider When Managing Their Online Reputation | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

Your online reputation as a physician is valuable; probably even more so than you may realize. But if you do not manage your reputation the right way, it could lead to huge difficulties. The Internet has opened up the door to allowing people to find your practice easily, but by the same token it has made it possible for there to be fraudulent information and negative reviews, all of which can do damage.

It Looks Real

There are several problems with online reviews that will be imperative to act upon for physicians. For starters, it is illegal for you to pay someone to write a favorable review for you. This is a process known as "astroturfing," and is a problem that has plagued the Internet for years. With astroturfing, people (or sometimes the physician themselves) will log on to review websites and will leave glowing reviews, simply because they have received something in exchange (e.g. cash and/or incentives) for those reviews other than good service.


The reviews give great feedback and are typically "over the top," in regard to the product or service. In contrast, there are some people who will get others to purposely write negative reviews of their competitors, when there is a chance they have never been a customer at all.


The Legalities


What many people fail to realize is that astroturfing, fake reviews or reviews done in exchange for something, is illegal. In most cases it may qualify as a violation of the Endorsement and Advertising Guidelines, which are standards set by the Federal Trade Commission. Fake reviews have lead to monetary sanctions being placed against those who have written them.


Physicians need to exercise caution when it comes to managing their online reputation. It is essential to balance review management while remaining legal. While you can suggest to your happy customers to leave a review for your practice, it is best to avoid offering them something, such as a discount, gift, or money, for doing so.


Managing Carefully


It is estimated that good reviews can boost a business’s sales anywhere from 32 percent to 52 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review. So it stands to reason that a business with poor reviews will in turn lose current customers, or prevent new ones. For example, one Washington, D.C., building contractor fought back when he received a negative online review that he believes lead to him losing $300,000 worth of business. The contractor, who sued the person who wrote the review, claimed that it contained information that was not factually correct and it cost him a lot of business.


It is imperative that physicians manage their online reputation. But navigating the waters to get it done successfully, as well as legally, may prove to be challenging for some. This is a reason some people turn to reputation management companies. They know how to manage the online reputation, keep it all legal, and help you gain business as a result.

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Physicians: Safeguard Your Online Reputation in 5 Steps

Physicians: Safeguard Your Online Reputation in 5 Steps | Online Reputation Management for Doctors | Scoop.it

In my previous posts, I've walked you through the challenges and burdens of suing a patient for online defamation. Such lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming, stressful, and full of risk. In short, they are a last resort, only to be used when your reputation is so severely in peril that legal action is your only viable option. This final post will offer a few ideas of proactive steps you can take to safeguard your online reputation.

Given the prevalence and influence of online reviews, physicians cannot ignore their online reputation. A simple Internet search will turn up reviews of your practice in seconds. Survey data makes clear that potential patients will read those reviews and form an impression of you before they've ever set foot in your examination room.

You cannot stop a patient from defaming you online, but taking these steps can help lessen the reputational damage of a single negative review. The goal is to create a substantial and positive online presence

You should be aware that on many doctor rating websites, anyone can create your profile. For example, on RateMDs, the patient need only complete the most basic information about a doctor (name, specialty, address) to create a physician profile. Then the patient can review the doctor, and the profile and review are available for anyone to see. Other websites (such as Healthgrades) pull practice information from public sources to create profiles. Either way, you may not be aware that such profiles even exist.

Here are a few steps you can take right now:

First, if one does not already exist, create a profile on the major review websites, including general review sites like Yelp.


You want to be the person to describe your practice, ensure that contact information is correct, and provide an accurate description of your specialties and experience. It sounds silly, but a warm, approachable headshot —taken by a professional — can offer a strong first impression.

Second, if someone else created a profile for you, "claim" your profile to make any necessary changes to the information in it.
For example, the patient may have listed an incorrect subspecialty or the wrong fax number. By claiming and verifying the profile, at least you will be sure that prospective patients can find your office and contact you.

Third, take steps to create a substantial and positive online presence so that a single negative review will cause little harm.


You can ask patients to write reviews when you have treated them or their close family member. It is not right to pay for reviews, write your own reviews, or post negative reviews on another doctor's profile. Some websites prohibit the solicitation of reviews. But there is nothing wrong with asking your patients to review your practice if they are happy with it.

Fourth, constantly monitor your online reputation.


If you do not know what is being written about your practice, you have zero chance to protect your reputation. You need to check your profile regularly and read all the posted reviews. A staff member can be assigned to this task on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, depending on the size of your practice. Apart from finding reviews that you may want to try to remove, this effort also provides you with invaluable feedback about your practice and may help provide ideas to tweak your office policies to fix problems that patients identify. As I have written before, there may be times when you need to respond to negative reviews on the review website itself.

Fifth, be aware that the presentation of online reviews on some sites may not accurately depict all of the reviews of your practice.
Yelp has come under considerable criticism for its internal algorithm that decides which reviews are prominently displayed and which reviews are hidden on a separate page. I talked with one home renovation company that had several one-star reviews on their Yelp profile page but numerous five-star reviews hidden on a second page. The upshot is that even if current patients write positive reviews, this is no guarantee that those reviews can be found easily by potential patients. This is simply one of the problems with online review sites.


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