Six Effective Strategies to Boost Online Reputation for Physicians

September 5, 2017

By Molly Meier

September 5, 2017

Online reviews are a powerful influence and critical component in every physician’s online identity and marketing strategy. An effective reputation creation strategy coupled with robust and abundant directory listings can add a steady stream of patients to your waiting rooms. Notice that I mention reputation creation, rather than reputation management. There is a measurable difference in proactively creating a positive online reputation strategy versus merely managing reviews or replying to negative reviews. And yes, you will receive negative reviews no matter how hard you try to provide your best in physician services. Negative reviews should be dealt with in a specific manner. We will visit negative reviews further in this article.

Many physicians choose to ignore negative online reviews all together with the false impression that if they leave them be they will simply fade away. Unfortunately, negative reviews are online forever. They are seen over and over again by patients who conduct online due diligence before coming to see you individually or your group medical practice.

Another consideration is when a physician is part of a group medical practice and one physician garners more than their fair share of negative online reviews. This may be due to a misinterpreted gruff practice manner, slow nurse or PA call back response, slow prescription refill orders or any number of other common patient complaints. These negative reviews and comments can reflect on you and the entire group practice as a whole. Make it a point to address each individual physician’s online reputation as well as the reputation of the group medial practice as a whole along with other locations and affiliated facilities. This concentrated reputation building strategy creates a much stronger unified presence for all physicians involved.

78% review online reviews

78 percent of consumers in the U.S. look at online reviews before buying a product or a service, according to And, 44 percent actively contribute to online reviews. Conversely, four out of five consumers cancel purchase decisions after encountering negative reviews. As you can see, the online review process is a very important marketing component in any medical practice whether a solo physician practices, group medical practice or multi-facility medical groups.

6 Effective Physician Reputation Management Strategies

1) Have a professional online audit performed

An accurate online audit takes an inventory of existing citations and listings that note your name, practice name, physician credentials, address, phone, website, hours, etc. These citations and listings should be robust and consistent across multiple platforms. If you do not have multiple online listings, these need to created for you. The more detailed and strategically placed listings you have and the more accurate they are, the easier it is for patients and search engines to find you online. Simply put, sloppy online listings translate to sloppy reputations.

2) Put a reputation creation strategy in place

Again, notice the words reputation creation, rather than reputation management. Merely aggregating reviews does not help create a positive online presence for your medical practice. Creating a custom, proactive reputation creation strategy and funnel that consistently works every day to create new, authentic positive online reviews for your medical practice is a powerful tool to drive authority, credibility and new patient traffic. Do you have an online reputation plan in place? If not, you are at the mercy of what is thrown your way on online review sites. Budgeting an affordable and consistent reputation creation effort each month is one of the best expenditures a physician practice can make.

3) Embrace, don’t hide from negative reviews

No matter how impeccable your physician services may be, you will eventually receive negative reviews. Don’t panic. These are often simple misunderstandings that can be resolved. When resolved, the reviewer can then go back to the specific review site and update their review to a positive review. It’s important to follow up and request this step be done to refresh any negative reviews.

Negative reviews should always be dealt with in a prompt, professional, non-defensive manner. Genuinely acknowledge the person’s complaint/concerns and ask that they please contact your office or clinic directly by phone so you can address their concerns personally in more detail. This takes the conversation off the public platform and enables you to better deal with specific complaints with the goal of resolution and turning that negative review into a positive review.

Additionally, review requests initiated through your practice that might garner lower than desired ratings can be quickly brought to your attention through a customized reputation creation process for the opportunity at immediate resolution. By proactively managing this process, it is often possible to resolve a simple misunderstanding and turn a potential poor review into a positive review. A happy patient who then becomes a repeat patient is much more likely to share your name and clinic’s name with their own personal networks. Word of mouth is powerful advertising.

4) Select and monitor review sites that are important to physicians and healthcare services and also those important to patients

There are many review sites dedicated solely to physicians and healthcare practitioners such as ZocDocs, Rate MDs, and Healthgrades are some of the more recognized names. Additionally, there are powerful general review sites that rank highly in search engines and are utilized by patients to research physician services including Google and Yelp. Knowing how to configure these review sites to your benefit and easily monitor them for activity is important and allows the ability to quickly respond to a review when there is a need.

5) New patient honeymoon period

There is a golden window of opportunity to acquire new positive reviews with new patients who are satisfied with your physician services. Actively solicit positive reviews with new patients by directing them with easy, friendly ways to contribute to online reviews. There are numerous ways to accomplish this that are not time consuming and are patient-friendly.

6) Learn how to effectively manage your online reputation rather than letting your online reputation manage you

Sitting and waiting for online reviews to come your way is like waiting for a tornado or a hurricane. You know there will be one day, but you are never prepared. With a proactive reputation creation process in place, you are actively and consistently building positive reviews every day, month after month, while at the same time you are notified and ready to quickly respond to less than desirable reviews. Over time, negative reviews will then become a much smaller percentage in comparison to consistently building positive reviews. Any negative reviews that occur will then continua to move further down the list.

Online reviews and social proof can no longer be ignored in physician practice marketing. They are powerful and will increase in use in the future. When done properly, the online review and reputation creation process can become a robust source of good news for your healthcare practice and a driver for new patient traffic. Understanding how to do this correctly puts you in the driver’s seat rather than idly waiting for a hurricane.

Molly Meier is a founder, branding strategist, thought leader, and chief inspirational officer with 2M Design and offering integrated advertising, branding, SEO, reputation creation, website strategies and business development solutions.

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