Patients put a great deal of trust in their doctors. After all, when something goes wrong during a medical procedure, it can have long-lasting consequences.
The scariest part, though, is that you can be the best doctor in the world and you still won’t be able to please every patient. Some people have unrealistic expectations, mistakes happen, and then all of a sudden, you’re facing a bad review on Yelp or Google. These reviews can affect your reputation, even if the patient has no legitimate claim for their dissatisfaction.
Reputation management is an extremely important aspect of running a medical practice, but it’s not very pleasant. It never feels good to have your hard work and hard-earned reputation trashed online, especially when you work hard to provide your patients with the best experience and results possible.
So, what can you do to make sure the occasional bad review from a disgruntled patient doesn’t tarnish your reputation and turn prospective patients away? Here are 6 tips to help you manage your online reputation so you can protect yourself and your practice.
1. Monitor your online presence
The first step in online reputation management is to monitor your online presence. That means either manually checking your reviews regularly or paying for a service that will alert you when a potentially damaging review comes in.
People use reviews extensively when making important decisions. You could have ten 5-star reviews and just one negative review, but that one review might make someone pause and consider another provider. Staying on top of the reviews that are being posted is critical for responding appropriately and initiating damage control.
2. Be careful how (or if) you respond to bad reviews
Many medical providers have become (understandably) upset over poor reviews that are unfair and do not paint an accurate picture of the situation prompting the review. Many of these providers have responded to these reviews directly, including information about the patient to show how the review did not provide the whole story. However, it’s important to realize that responding to a poor review using specific information about the patient’s case could get you in deep trouble.
Patients’ personal health information is protected by HIPAA. Even if someone posts an unflattering review because they just didn’t like what you told them, that doesn’t give you the right to reveal their health information.
At the moment, it can be hard to remember this, so just take a deep breath and think about if anything you want to say could violate the law. Additionally, responding in anger can backfire, even if you are in the right. Dealing with poor reviews is a very delicate process that you shouldn’t rush into without considering your options.
3. Encourage and incentivize patients to leave glowing reviews
You can’t prevent people from leaving bad reviews if they’re determined. However, you can encourage your happy patients to leave great reviews that will improve your online reputation and help prospective patients who are considering calling your office.
Typically, people are more likely to leave bad reviews than good ones. When they’re mad, they might write a review to blow off steam and to feel like they’re doing something that will help their situation or prompt action. When someone is happy with your work, however, they might not think to write up a review.
That’s why it’s important to ask for those reviews as soon as you know your patients are thrilled with your results. Inviting and reminding them to review and making it easy to do so will help increase your good online reviews and boost your reputation. Over time, having a large number of good reviews will lead to more patient inquiries.
4. Understand how reputation affects SEO performance
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has changed a lot over the years, becoming much more sophisticated and involving an increasing number of ranking factors. Your online reputation via reviews can now affect your ranking within search engine results.
This can be a good thing if you’ve got a great review average across all review sites. However, just a few bad reviews could make a difference in your ranking. Optimizing your SEO strategy is important, but you should also take managing your reputation seriously—it’s all connected!
5. Follow the rules of each review site & dispute negative reviews when appropriate
Although it might be very frustrating to see an unfair bad review, remember that maintaining your ethics in managing your reputation is essential. Follow all the rules of the review sites you use and don’t be tempted to try anything questionable to remove poor reviews—it’s likely to backfire or get your site blacklisted.
What you can do is dispute negative reviews when it’s appropriate. If someone has posted a negative review about a service you don’t offer, for instance, a review site might agree that it should be taken down. While you shouldn’t abuse this option, it can be a good way to deal with unfair reviews that bring your average online ratings down.
6. Get help with your reputation management
Reputation management can be challenging and time-consuming for small practices. There’s a lot of nuance to it and it’s difficult to learn when you need to be focusing on serving your patients. For this reason, it can be worthwhile to outsource your reputation management.
The good news is that reputation management services are becoming more accessible for small, independent healthcare providers. Investing in reputation management is a smart and simple way to build your client base and credibility.
Learn More About Reputation Management Services
If you’re in a panic over a few bad reviews, take a deep breath. Reputations are affected by online reviews, but there are ways to improve your image and repair damage from poor reviews.
It may not happen overnight, but if you choose an experienced reputation management company like Surgeon’s Advisor, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that best practices are being used to boost your reputation and counteract bad reviews. To learn more about our expert reputation management services, contact us today to get started. We can help you earn the trust of prospective patients and respond appropriately to any poor feedback that might come up.