Simple Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation

Volume: 2017

Issue: 4

Date: 4/11/2017

Simple Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation

by Yolanda Sims, JD, MHA, KaMMCO Loss Prevention & Risk Management Advisor

The internet can be a scary place, especially if you’re a physician concerned about your online reputation. There’s no foolproof way to prevent patients from posting information about their experience or the services they received from your practice. But all is not lost if you genuinely want to manage your online reputation.

Consider these helpful tips:

Be Proactive
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This old adage is very true. It is better to keep a bad thing from happening than it is to fix the bad thing once it happens.

Create a Google alert.  Setting up a Google alert is an easy way to know if your name or your practice is mentioned online.  Google will send you an email when the new content is published.  The alert will allow you to act swiftly and hopefully minimize the damage to your reputation.

Conduct your own web search. Experts say physicians or a designated person should periodically visit sites including Facebook, HealthGrades, WebMD and other relevant sites where patients often provide insight or vent about a visit.

Seek Positive Comments
Happy patients post positive comments. Any business owner will tell you, one bad review or comment won’t make or break you, unless you have more negative comments than positive.

Encourage patients who are satisfied with your services to post reviews on the practice’s website or Facebook page. If majority of the comments are positive, they outweigh the negative ones.

Promote yourself. Do you have an updated LinkedIn profile? Are you a fan of Twitter, Tumblr or YouTube? By using one of these social media options, you can control the type of content that is being published about you. 

Develop a Response Strategy
Have a response strategy in place when reviewing negative comments. Keep in mind, responding to online postings is not a two-way street in the health industry. Patients, unlike physicians, can rant and rave without hesitation.  Physicians must comply with HIPAA and other confidentiality laws that prohibit them from disclosing protected health information. Also, be prepared to accept the negative comments may not be deleted by the patient.

Investigate the comment before responding. Is there is any merit to the comment? Is the comment alleging a behavior completely out of character?

Assuming the person’s identity is known, you may contact them privately. A simple phone call or an in-person conversation should suffice. When doing so, be professional and inquire how you can make things right and improve your services for future patients.

Don’t waste time on old comments. The older the comment, the less likely it is to have an impact on your reputation. A good rule of thumb is six months or more is probably not worth investigating.

Patients are increasingly seeking information about physicians online. Managing your online reputation can become a full-time job, if you let it. These simple tips may help ease your anxiety when dealing with negative comments online and inspire you to take an active role in protecting your reputation.