Word of mouth may have once been enough to gain new patients, but in this day and age it takes more than just a referral. In fact, statistics show that social media affects 41% of consumers decisions when choosing a particular doctor, hospital, or private practice. With numbers steadily rising, this means that you may want to make maintaining your online presence a priority. Keep reading for ways that you can improve your online reputation.
- Assess Your Current Online Presence
In order to create a successful strategy, you must first understand where you currently are by evaluating your current online reputation. What websites is your practice listed on? Are the reviews listed typically positive or negative? Have a staff member take a look at sites like Yelp, Healthgrades, RateMDs, and Google and take note of your averages ratings. Consolidating all the information onto one document will let you easily see your strengths, as well as areas of improvement.
- Stay on Top of Reviews
Patients can post an online review on any day of the week, at any hour. Being responsive further helps build your online reputation, as over 75% of patients say that they expect a response from healthcare providers within 24 hours of making a request through social media. Google Alerts makes it easy to keep up with new posts by alerting you anytime your practice is mentioned online. Assign a staff member the task of remedying negative reviews, and using positive reviews as potential testimonials.
- Check Existing Profiles For Errors
Many websites will automatically generate business profiles based off of known businesses in the area. What this means for you is a profile page full of possibly missing or outdated information, and a blank space where a photograph should be. Most sites will have a “Claim This Page” option where business owners can verify and update all of their information. Dedicating time to search for these profiles and updating them to look professional is another task that will be beneficial.
- Increase Patient Involvement
With patients utilizing the internet and accessing information from sites such as Web MD, the overall involvement expectations have increased. Patients want to hear different treatment options, express their preferences, and make informed decisions about their healthcare. With this collaborative approach patients are more likely to keep their appointments, follow through with your treatment plan, and leave a positive review or recommendation. Two good questions to ask yourself are “Do you sit next to patients or stand towering above them? Do you really listen or just wait for the patient to stop talking so you can impart your advice?”
- Remind Patients to Write Reviews
As pleasant as the patient’s visit might have been, it is understandable that by the time they get home they may forget to write a review. That is why reminder cards with recommended websites to leave reviews are extremely helpful. By giving the patients a list to choose from, it takes the guesswork out and gets you the review that you are aiming for. If you do not feel comfortable personally handing out these reminders, have staff give them to patients on their way out.
- Handle Negative Reviews With Care
No physician likes to see negative reviews, but in reality these are to be expected. Patients want to see real reviews, and usually understand that one bad review does not trump ten positives. This is why step #5 is so important, because you always want to make sure there is a higher ratio of good reviews. The notification alerts mentioned in step #2 will help you catch these negative reviews, and respond to them quickly. As you know, HIPAA puts limitations on what your response can entail. A general reply acknowledging their complaint and urging them to call your practice is most effective. Serious accusations that may be false and/or potentially damaging should be referred to your attorney.