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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Responding to Negative Online Patient Reviews: 7 Tips

Responding to Negative Online Patient Reviews: 7 Tips | Online Reputation Management for Doctors |

When you read a negative review of your medical skills or professional practice, your first instinct may be to fire back a response. You want to explain that the patient misstated the facts, she misinterpreted your explanation of a diagnosis, or exaggerated how your staff treated her.

Some physician review websites allow you to respond to an online review. For example, on RateMDs, you may reply to any of your reviews. However, on other sites, the response is not as prominently displayed as the initial review or may require the user to click on a separate button to view the responses.

As a general matter, I advise clients to respond online to negative reviews. Responding online shows prospective patients that you acknowledge criticism of your practice and that you are proactive in improving your patient's experience in your practice. Plus, if the negative review is completely at odds with other positive reviews, you may be able to explain why this patient had such a negative experience.

Here are seven tips for responding online to negative reviews:

1. Follow HIPAA. The medical profession is uniquely hampered in its ability to respond to online reviews because of patient privacy laws. You simply cannot disclose any protected health information in your response, because the patient has not given you consent to do so. The fact that the patient may have disclosed private information in his initial review does not give you permission to do the same in response. Given the seriousness of this concern, it is always better to err on the side of saying too little than too much. The fines associated with HIPAA or state privacy law violations may deter you from responding at all.

2. Be careful responding to anonymous reviews. The anonymity of some online reviews can make it difficult — or impossible — to respond. The review websites will not disclose the reviewer's true identity to you. If you do not know with absolute certainty who posted the negative review, then do not respond with any remarks specific to that patient. You do not want to risk responding to the wrong patient.

3. Keep the response short and polite. There's no reason to post a lengthy response. It will only look defensive to other patients. One way to promote a polite review is to avoid responding in anger. If you read a negative review, go ahead and draft your "dream" response. Then wait one day or two days, then re-read your draft response before posting it. It is also a good idea to enlist a trusted friend or family member to review your response and provide feedback about how the review sounds to a disinterested observer.

4. Show a commitment to improvement. Although review websites frustrate doctors to no end, keep in mind that they are one of the few methods by which you can get honest feedback. Your response to negative reviews will be most effective if they demonstrate that you want to improve your practice in response to fair criticism.

5. Invite the patient to contact you off-line. In your response, you can invite the patient to call you to discuss the problem and devise a solution together. It may not work with this particular patient, but it demonstrates to anyone who reads the negative review that you are willing to formulate a reasonable solution to patient concerns.

6. Do not defame anyone in your response. I once represented a client in the construction industry who had been defamed on Yelp. He had completed several small construction projects at a former schoolmate's home but she refused to pay him anything. Then she posted negative reviews on Yelp, accusing him of stealing jewelry and trespassing on her property. He responded to her review online and stated "If theft was made, it was her stealing money and services from me," among other explanations of what had happened. Although at trial we prevailed on our defamation claims against the customer, my client was also found to have defamed his customer in his online response. If you do choose to post a reply, keep this risk in mind.

7. Avoid apologies in some situations. There are times when a simple apology works well. For example, if the patient complains that your office always runs 15 minutes behind schedule, you could apologize and explain that because you try not to rush patients during examinations, sometimes patients have short wait times. However, there are times when you have to avoid an apology. For example, if the review accuses you of malpractice or other wrongdoing, an apology may not be the right approach given the possible legal liabilities at play.

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Doctors can Gain Confidence via Online Marketing

Doctors can Gain Confidence via Online Marketing | Online Reputation Management for Doctors |

Whenever I come across a new doctor nowadays, I make it a point to know more by Googling about him. And not just me, everyone tends to do it. This is THE trend! As a result, it is no longer enough for a doctor to open a dispensary and start his practice in order to become trustworthy and medically acceptable.

Healthcare technology has become a huge thing – merging the two sectors makes it easier to get loads of useful health information as well as recognize the caregiver in depth. Therefore, a doctor can gain an enormous amount of confidence if he takes out a little time for online marketing. After all, who would not want to consult a doctor who is also a Thought Leader of his domain?

Becoming a Thought Leader

A thought leader is not an inventor of new things. He is someone who creates something distinctive from the already existing and gives a different angle to an old story. For a doctor to be a thought leader, he needs to showcase his medical expertise and skills with his community.

And the best way to do it is by creating a personal blog site. However, there is no hardbound rule to post blogs only about health tips and remedies. The very purpose of a personal blog is to talk about personal opinions and experiences. As an industry expert, it is natural for a doctor to have come across a variety of patients and their unique cases. A doctor, via his blog posts, should educate and advice his readers… and if a patient gets help from a post, then he becomes a patient for life.

Another great place for a doctor to become a thought leader is Quora. This Q&A website attracts millions of people from various fields, including doctors. Create an account on Quora, and follow other industry experts and join relevant topics. And you have a question related to medicine, pitch it hard. Let others see and give their answers. In short, you get to create and be a part of a thought-provoking, virtual brainstorming session.

Becoming a Smart Social Player

The more active someone is on social channels, the more likely he is to get noticed and followed. And with more followers at the helm, a shared post becomes more probable in getting visited, read and shared. Even doctors know about the truth in this statement.

But the problem is: how to get followers in the first place? After a doctor has opened an account (with the name of the blog, of course) in popular social channels, he can join relevant ‘Groups’ and share his posts and start discussions. Facebook and LinkedIn have the ‘Group’ section which are effective mediums to engage with like-minded people and make them aware of the blog’s existence. Google Plus also offers something similar called ‘Communities’… and all these 3 together can be a great starting point.

Another thing that can boost the visibility of a blog post in social channels is Hashtag Engine Optimization ( or HEO), as HEO has been found to yield more immediate results than Search Engine Optimization. Instead of using hashtags casually, doctors should use them in accordance to the title of the blog post or something relevant to it. In this way, it will instantly reach people looking for results with those exact hashtags. Leaving out LinkedIn, the best places to use hashtags are Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Becoming a Voracious Reader

There is no end when it comes to learning new stuff, especially in the field of medicine where something or the other is getting introduced every day. The more a doctor reads, the more he knows; and the more he knows, more are his chances to come up with unique and interesting ideas.

A great place to read about healthcare technology or both the fields separately is It is a content curation website where people curate interesting content from the Web and share it. If a doctor can open an account on this website, it will not only be a great platform to make people aware of your blog posts but also stumble upon interesting industry updates every now and then.

Healthcare Technology: Making Doctors more Important

Say for example, I’ve been suffering for a few weeks and a friend has suggested me the name of a doctor. In the age of Smartphones and Tablets, it is pretty instinctive for me to know more about the doctor before I pay a visit. So when I end up Googling his name, I get to see the expert opinions on his blog posts. Naturally, I will be forced to trust and consult someone so knowledgeable.

This is exactly how a brain works… and doctors need to act smart and use the weapons properly. And with this growing connection, maybe someday this world will get to be a disease-free place.

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