Improving the online reputation of your practice

In the digital age in which we are now immersed, consumers now look online before they book hotels, go to restaurants, and even select a healthcare provider. As an independent physician, your priority is the health and safety of your patients, of course. However, improving the online reputation of your practice can be critical for the growth and long-term success of your operations.

One of the first things an individual will do when searching for a new physician is to go on a site such as Yelp or Healthgrades to see the reviews and ratings for that provider. A recent survey of how patients use those online reviews found that:

  • 90% of the patients participating in the survey use online reviews to evaluate physicians.
  • 71% use online reviews as their first step when searching for a new doctor, making the online reputation the first impression they have of you and your practice.
  • 43% of the patients would go out of their insurance network to see a physician with favorable reviews.
  • 1% of patients leave “very negative” feedback on review sites.
  • 10% leave “somewhat negative” reviews.
  • 66% of the patients participating in the survey said it’s “very” or “moderately important” for providers to respond to online reviews, whether they are positive or negative.

Managing and improving your online reputation can be done in a few simple steps:

Know what your current online reputation looks like. You can’t address your reputation if you don’t know what it is in the moment. Take a look at the review sites on a regular basis. Typical sites include Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals, or RateMDs. It’s important to check the ratings as well as to read the reviews so you can respond to them appropriately.

Make sure your website is accurate and current. When a potential patient searches for a new provider online, they will want to see information on a website in addition to checking out the review sites. An unappealing or outdated website will have a negative effect on a new patient. Make the site easy to navigate, include some helpful information, and add a patient portal to reassure new patients they will have a tool to connect with you safely and securely online.

Keep up with your social media presence. Patients looking online for a physician will also check out your social media posts. Using these platforms to provide information about your practice as well as to provide general health information can win over potential patients and reinforce your relationship with current patients. Post regularly to help improve your online reputation.

Respond to reviews and comments. You may receive a negative review or two. Address those comments in a positive tone and offer to chat “offline” with the individual to answer any questions or straighten out any misconceptions they may have. Keep your online comments positive and professional. It’s important to respond to all posts and comments, negative or positive, to engage with patients online. Make sure to keep the information HIPAA-compliant while also reassuring patients you are listening to their questions and concerns.