Why Is Online Reputation Management Important For Doctors?

Satya Kandala

8 min read Last Updated Mar 2, 2020

The days of having the same family doctor all your life are long gone. With a huge increase in travel (for both work and pleasure) sometimes you need to find a doctor on the internet. Almost 80% of patients browse through reviews as their first step towards finding a new doctor. This is why online reputation management is so important for doctors. 

Consider this, you are in Paris for a holiday and you caught a stomach bug. With no friends in the city and no option of just suffering through it, you need to resort to the web for some answers.

Patients are aware of the need for emergency medical care. They make sure to invest in medical insurance that enables them to go to the best and closest medical care professional. As a doctor and a healthcare professional, don’t lose out on the opportunity to help patients by being undiscoverable. By being listed and available to communicate, you are standing out from the competition and setting yourself up for success.  

In today’s Internet-focused world, online reputation management for doctors has become a critical area of focus. So listen up, doctors! Here’s why it’s important to pay attention to online reputation management.

By leveraging it, you can:

Keep Your Listings Updated 

Users can create a listing for your healthcare practice on many online listing websites and business directories these days. Your practice could be listed and accepting reviews on some websites that you are unaware of. To avoid this, it is important to continuously monitor your online reputation across the Internet.

It’s also important to keep a check on your practice’s business information such as name, address and phone number on online web directories and listing platforms. Inaccurate and incorrect business information may annoy potential patients and send them to your competitors if they are unable to find the information they need.

There’s also a great chance that you might be penalized by Google if your phone number is not the same across different listings or if the same number appears for different locations. Inconsistent business information on listings has a negative impact on your search engine rankings.

Understand What Patients Think Of You

Knowing what your patients like or dislike about your service is an advantage that practices lacked in the past. By monitoring what is being said about your practice online, you gain tremendous insights into what patients think and feel about your healthcare practice. If you implemented a new system for getting an appointment, feedback will help you understand how effective it is in reality. Positive reviews and happy patients are a testimony to good service. 

Using BirdEye, Critical Care sent out automated review requests across 25 locations. This resulted in 39x more Google reviews which boosted their ratings and patient acquisition. 

Negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing. Online reviews by patients can contain useful information like improvements that you can make or an unfriendly staff member. Also, if the same issue keeps coming to light, it may represent a genuine problem for your practice. Therefore, make the best use of this information to make necessary changes wherever possible. Being open to change and criticism will help you deliver the best possible service to your patients. 

Respond To Patient Feedback On Time

Responding to patient feedback, negative or positive, is a great healthcare marketing strategy. A well-thought-out response to positive remarks can help grow your relationships with your existing patients. 

When potential patients read negative reviews online, they also look for active engagement from the healthcare service provider. A humble response to negative reviews is essential for minimizing their impact on your online reputation. To keep a track of what your patients are saying about you online, it is important to have a robust online reputation monitoring strategy in place. Responding to negative reviews is a way of showing your patients that you care about them. You are acknowledging their complaints and demonstrating a readiness to make essential changes. In some cases, if you are successful in striking a productive conversation with upset patients, they may withdraw their initial negative review or update it. 

While responding to your patients, remember to follow HIPAA guidelines. The HIPAA guidelines state that the healthcare provider should respect the patient’s privacy, avoid disclosing the patient’s issue or photos online and take critical issues offline. 

Keep A Check On Fake Reviews 

To ensure that your online reputation is not affected by fake reviews posted by your competitors or people who hold grudges against you, it is essential to monitor your online reputation. It can be tempting to ask friends and family or invest some money into acquiring fake reviews that might help you boost your business in the short term. But, this isn’t a sustainable plan. Bogus reviews can severely impact your online reputation

Research states that customers don’t trust five-star ratings. No product or service is 100% perfect and customers are aware of this fact. When users search for reviews online, they want authentic experiences, which include both positive and negative details. Fake reviews can destroy the trust that your patients have in your practice, affect your local search traffic and drag you into a legal soup. 

Instead, invest in authentic review collection. Follow up with customers and ask them for reviews. Respond to negative reviews for customers publicly, which also shows your commitment to patients’ experience. Promote your genuine patient reviews on social media and your website. Reviews are user-generated content (UGC) which Google values highly while deciding on search rankings. 

Win Against Your Competitors

Online reputation management for doctors, can help medical professionals identify competitors, track strengths and weaknesses, understand strategies and gauge relative advantages. Competitive benchmarking can help you understand what is working for your competitors. You can learn from their mistakes and successes. Therefore, knowing your competition inside out can help you win over them and get new patients.

For example, your practice might have better service but your competitor has an easy process for making an appointment. Once you are aware that your potential patients, who actually prefer you over your competitor, are not choosing you because you need a new system for making appointments — you can easily fix it and win back your customers. 

Having a good online reputation at the moment is no reason to get complacent about the future. Your practice’s online reputation is dynamic in nature and can change anytime. The change can be positive or negative. A couple of bad reviews can change the game if you are not paying attention. Think about this: if you have a few positive reviews in the past and a couple of bad reviews recently, your patients will assume there is a change in the management and choose to go elsewhere. As long as you have a powerful solution that focuses on online reputation management for doctors in place, you have nothing to worry about.

Create a Winning Marketing Strategy

If you have a great online reputation, chances are that you don’t need to spend a ton of money and resources on a great marketing strategy. Word of mouth and online reputation are the best ways to attract new customers for a healthcare provider. Research shows that people believe online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a peer. 

Invest in positive patient reviews and publicity on social media to get the most of your happy customers. Use these happy customers to get more customers! With a great online reputation, your medical practice will also enjoy a good level of trust and credibility. This again translates into more customers. If you are ever hit by negative publicity, having a sizable chunk of authentic positive reviews will help minimize the effects produced by the negative publicity. 

And it’s not just more customers. With a solid online reputation, your medical practice can also attract better investors, influencers, prospective employees and other connections. This can help you drive your business forward. The first thing these potential connections look for is credibility. And nothing screams credibility more strongly than a solid online reputation. After all, it’s literally a matter of life and death (we may be exaggerating a teeny tiny bit here) when it comes to medical care. You patients only want to go to the best and rightly so! By fixing your online reputation, help your patients understand that your medical practice is indeed their best option. 

Here’s The Best Online Reputation Management Solution For Doctors!

BirdEye is a patient experience solution that provides a 360-degree view of your practice’s online reputation. With BirdEye, you can fix your listings across different online directories, social media sites and listing websites in one go. You can also track your competition, respond to patient feedback and gain insights into what your patients are saying about you. Moreover, you can do everything using a single dashboard.

So, the time to think is over, it’s time to act now!

If your diagnosis is that your online reputation doesn’t do your practice any justice, we have good news: it’s treatable. Watch our free demo to know more.