All doctors know the role reputation plays in attracting new patients to their medical practice. With reviews now being published online, it’s more important than ever to manage their reputation.
A survey by Software Advice showed that 82% of patients use online reviews as part of their decision-making process when choosing a physician. They will find everything they need to know about the doctor, from the way they talk to their knowledge in the field and this number will only get larger and larger.
Here are 4 things doctors should know about reputation management.
How To Act Offline
In the social media age, when someone finds something they like, they want to share it with their friends, followers and the rest of the world. The same is true with doctors’ patients.
When doctors provide a good experience to their patients, they’ll give back by posting about it online where it can affect the choices of others.
The great experience goes beyond how they interact with physicians though. From reception to the nursing staff, everyone needs to be welcoming and offer as much assistance as they can to the patient.
Staff should always greet patients in a positive and polite manner. Where possible, they should try and use the patient’s name to create a more personalised welcome. Following up with a brief introduction about themselves and exchanging pleasantries can also go a long way.
From here, staff should direct the patient where they need to go and how long it will be until the doctor can see them.
Once the patient is with the doctor, act professionally and be just as polite and welcoming as the other members of staff. The patient will appreciate physicians taking their time to understand their own unique situation.
After the visit has concluded, thank them for their time and staff should also thank them for checking in and invite them to return again if they ever need anything else.
These guidelines will ensure that the patient leaves the practice with a positive experience is key to physician reputation management.
How To Get A Review
The modern healthcare experience makes reviews unavoidable. Doctors and staff must maintain their reputation and build a connection with consumers that they can trust.
However, no matter how great the service is, not everyone will leave a review. They may tell their friends or colleagues how well they were treated but not take the step of going online and posting their thoughts.
So, as part of the visit to the practice, kindly ask the patient if they would leave a review.
Either include a link to a recognised review site in an email signature or invest in a tablet that patients can use to receive an email with the link.
How To Act Online
While it may be second nature to act offline as described above, it’s just as important to act as professionally online when responding to patient reviews.
Unless an online review is edited or removed, the words are there for everyone to see forever. If the review is positive, this can work in your favour. If it’s negative, it can damage a doctor’s reputation.
The same Software Advice survey said that 65% of patients felt it was either ‘very’ or ‘moderately important’ for doctors to respond to posts online, especially if the review is negative. It will show to the reviewer and anyone else reading it that customer feedback is important and the practice wants to improve.
According to Healthcareweekly.com, physicians and the rest of their staff must all act appropriately when responding to negative online feedback.
They should never get into any arguments, write something petty or anything that intends to offend the patient. This goes for past, present or potential future patients.
Apologize for creating a bad experience and explain the processes, either proposed or currently actioned, so in future, this scenario can be avoided.
In terms of positive feedback, be sure to thank the reviewer for leaving their thoughts and sharing them. Again, this shows to the readers that the practice cares about patients’ opinions.
Where To Respond Online
In a perfect world, feedback should be dealt with as soon as it has been left. However, due to time constraints and other jobs that need doing throughout the day, it can be difficult to find the time.
Nevertheless, it’s vital to the medical practice’s reputation that it responds to online reviews proactively.
At least once a week, doctors or other members of staff must conduct online searches for the surgery’s members or the surgery itself. Use a variety of keywords to find more results and enhance its position.
Online local directories are also places where past and potential patients hang out and make decisions for a new physician. Find which directories list the practice through search engines. If it’s not present, contact the appropriate people to get it in.
Being listed in a local directory builds trust with the community and encourages new patients to get in touch. From here, respond to enquiries timely and book them an appointment.
Being proactive on social media is also vital. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are the biggest platforms for people to leave their opinions so be sure to have an active presence on each one.
If there isn’t already, set up a profile or page in the name of the practice, perform searches for the practice’s name and, just like in search engines, respond to reviews accordingly.
Finally, reviews can be left on specific physician rating sites, such as Healthgrades. Patients can find doctors based on their rating, similar to how people use Trip Advisor to search for the best hotel packages.
The higher the rating, the more likely patients will attend the practice. Visit these sites to get a better idea of what people are saying.
Reputation management for doctors is essential to winning new patients, building trust within the medical community and increasing business revenue. Patients will book appointments with high-rated physicians and take care with both online and offline service.
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