Four tips for Online Reputation Management
By PAULA WYATT
It is true in healthcare, in life, and in business that a milligram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure. In the healthcare industry, more so than in most others, your reputation does in fact precede you — it defines you. As a physician your reputation is built not only on the positive outcomes you provide for your patients but also on the strength of the bonds you build with patients through positive experiences, and then through their enthusiasm to share their experience, whether it be perceived as positive or negative. Your reputation is further illustrated through the dynamics of your staff, your alliances with referring physicians, and your reputation among other health-care industry professionals.
The term “word of mouth” was coined before we had keyboards. Now, it is easier than ever, with the “stroke of a key,” to praise or hurt a physician’s reputation. Everyone gets to vote. In comparing a one-star “my pasta was cold” review that a restaurant might receive to a one-star “this doctor and his entire office are incompetent” review a medical practice might receive, it is clear that both reviews take about the same amount of time to create but have vastly different impacts.
This is great news — if you choose to leverage this opportunity to grow your practice. Elevating your online footprint (reputation) is a central part of a comprehensive medical marketing and communication strategy (MCS). Your MCS defines and illustrates your values and commitments to your patients, your practice, and your team, and it establishes a plan (tactics, timelines, and processes outlining how you are elevating your unique specialties and distinctive approaches to enforce your reputation among your patients, your potential patients, and your health-care peers and affiliates).
Within the combination of tactics are some that you can control (such as website, social media, email marketing, and outreach efforts) and some that you cannot (such as word of mouth and online reviews). A strong MCS helps you and your staff excel in the things you can control and manage well the things you cannot.
If you do not currently have an MCS fueling the growth and ensuring the harmony of your practice, you are not alone. In my experience working with physicians to grow their practices, I would say less than 20 percent have an MCS, and of those who do not, most are not even considering it, which makes having an MCS a clear competitive advantage.
Developing a strong MCS is quite an undertaking. It involves integrating long-term financial goals with situational analysis, understanding your patient profiles, evaluating referral paths, and developing your “products” (procedures, treatments, and specialties) as well as tying it all together with an ROI reporting mechanism. If you are like almost every physician I know, you are busy—so I am offering you an effective, inexpensive FIRST STEP.
What is Your Current Reputation Management Strategy?
Investing time in conducting an Annual Reputation Refresh will polish all the “word-of-mouth” outlets floating around on the internet and ensure you are leading the online conversation “about YOU.” To get started, define your current growth strategy for your practice. Which are you?
- My strategy is that patients will find me because I am a qualified I am busy with patients. I do not have time for anything else.
- I usually have some people in my office who, when they are not doing their main job, can post on our Facebook page. We try to respond to negative reviews if we see
- I have a dedicated marketing and communication professional (either an employee or a marketing contractor) who manages the reputation and branding strategy that fuels the growth of my practice.
How to Conduct an Annual Reputation Refresh
- Who: Confirm who will be the author of the plan; it can be you, an employee, or a contractor.
- When: If you are doing it yourself, plan a weekend in front of your computer to complete 90 percent of it.
- How: Start with a blank document in your favorite font, size 10, and double spaced — your logo is the cover page. Then, scan this QR code for an easy-to-follow process.
Step One — Storytelling
- Clear your Google browsing data, and then search (your name and your practice)10 pages deep on Google. Remember to search Google images, videos, and
- Copy links of all the places you
- Create or refresh the story of your practice (300 or fewer words).
- Create or refresh short and engaging bios for yourself (and all physicians in your practice).
- Refresh your headshots, group shots, and casual images, for website and social
- Integrate affiliations, such as hospitals, universities, and medical
- Integrate charitable causes that pertain to your areas of expertise
Step Two — Physician Review Sites
- Of the many physician review sites, I suggest owning at least the top five (Vitals, Healthgrades, ZOCDOC, RateMDs, and doctor.com). Depending on the site, you can establish a free account. You may also consider the benefits of paid membership on a
- View each referral source, and update image, bio, links, hours, and
- Create a monitoring schedule and a reporting
- Address negative reviews with the patient
- Address erroneous reviews left by someone other than a patient or for another physician (by mistake) with the physician review site (the appeal process takes a while but stay with it).
Step Three — Google Listing
- Take ownership of your Google Business Page (GBP) and map listing for all your locations and for each
- Make a list of your top 50 key search
- Monitor Google
- Create a Google QR Review Campaign offering patients a link at checkout.
Step Four — Aligning Social Media
- Ensure your social “about” sections are enforcing the same story you are sharing on your website.
- Update your profiles, images, hours, and
- Eliminate those you do not use. It is best to focus on doing one or two well, rather than trying to keep up with all of them.
- Check the status of your business and personal
- Build a content calendar that plans your key topics for the year.
So, there you go! These are the four steps to conducting your Annual Reputation Refresh. Remember to assign someone to monitor it throughout the year on a schedule that makes sense for you. If you are managing it yourself, maybe you monitor it annually. If you have a staff member managing it, try for monthly or quarterly. And, if you hire a contractor, they should be looking at it daily.
Paula Wyatt is excited about helping you grow your medical practice through the development of impactful Marketing and Communication Strategies. Paula is a native Floridian, passionate about Orlando. Living up to her title as Chief Excitement Officer at Anything is Posh Able, she runs a boutique Image Building and Event Planning firm. She is the founder of a nonprofit organization called Posh Abilities, providing free event planning and image-building services to Central Florida nonprofit organizations. Email her at