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Online Reputation Management: What Have You Done for Your Medical Practice Lately?

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Patients are looking at you more closely than ever before. Are you sure they’re looking at the right information? I continually harp on the importance of online reputation management (ORM) for that very reason – it’s important. Oh, and most of you who haven’t done anything proactive have incorrect information floating around the internet getting into patient’s hands – be that the wrong office address or phone number or unwarranted negative reviews, they are out there and their importance is growing.

Several months back I was a featured speaker at the 2012 Bones Society of Florida Annual Meeting speaking on this very topic and how it can impact your practice. Among other things, I presented what your office can do today to claim some of your most important profiles and why taking an active role in your ORM matters. Here are some statistics to consider:

  • More than 100 million people choose HealthGrades.com to find out more about their doctor prior to an appointment and rate them following an appointment
  • The rating show prominently on Google, which averages 170,000,000 unique visitors each month
  • More than 74 percent of searches are related to small businesses (like your office)
  • 92 percent of buyers regularly check reviews online before making a purchase or service decision

Now that you know some of the reasons it matters, you may be asking yourself what exactly all of this means to your practice. Let’s explain in a bit more detail. What is Online Reputation Management? Essentially, ORM is the process of monitoring the Internet reputation of a person, brand or business. In your case, acting as the physician and figurehead of your company, you act as all three.

Actively monitoring your online reputation involves claiming physician review site profiles and general review sites (such as HealthGrades.com, Vitals.com and Yelp.com) to ensure accuracy, respond to patient complaints, and using online feedback to influence future marketing and business decisions. A complete plan will also include inbound marketing strategies such as a content management system (CMS), video sharing and a comprehensive social media plan. In addition to just monitoring the review sites, the complete reputation bubble will use the CMS and social media aspects of the plan to drive content to your site, position you better on Google and create a loyal online following – all of which is designed to put more patients in your waiting room. In essence, by fostering an environment for positive reviews and accurate information online, a complete ORM will leverage and focus all of your efforts to help your bottom line while simultaneously keeping your name out of the mud.

Do Patients Really Use These Sites?

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Yes, they most certainly do. As stated above, the number of patients using the review sites and basing their opinions off of what is found there is continuing to trend upward. Unfortunately, there is no real way to know how many patients look at your profile and decide not to pick up the phone based on what they find there. However, by adding something as simple as “How Did You Hear About Us?” to your new patient paperwork, you may be able to identify if patients are coming to you because of your online reputation – don’t scoff at the idea, we’ve seen it with some of our clients. In fact, we’ve had a few patients tell us that they’ve decided to have surgery with some of our clients strictly because of an online video piece they saw about the doctor we shared on YouTube.

And, on the flipside of the spectrum, we’ve seen with clients where a hospital actually gained access to their physician rating profiles and changed all of the “Call for an Appointment” numbers directly to the hospital’s. We choose not to think about the number of potential appointments lost because of the inaccuracy. The bottom line is that this stuff works and if you aren’t taking advantage of it, frankly, you’re missing the boat.

What Do I Do?

I’ve heard it all before – yes, I know it takes a lot of time to do and it’s relatively new and unstable ground to tread. But the fact of the matter is that if you aren’t, your competition down the street is. My recommendation is to set aside some time this weekend or at the end of the night and just educate yourself a bit on the topic. See what’s out there, find where your name pops up and read what people are saying about your office. You may be surprised at the results. Then, schedule a little time each week to tackle each site until you systematically make your way through the largest, most visible sites.

At that point, it would be a good idea to consider writing some custom content for your website, scheduling social media posts and filming a few quick videos to educate patients about who you are and what you do. If that proves to be too much to chew, consider dividing the responsibilities among your staff or hiring a specialist. It’s a new world of marketing out there; make sure you’re a part of it.

Let me know if you’d like a copy of my slideshow presentation from the 2012 BSOF Annual Meeting – including the steps your office can take to claim some of your most vital online physician profiles.  If so, email me at jennifer@insightmg.com.

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