Your online reputation as a physician is crucial. These days, the Internet allows patients to easily access information on you and your practice and they are increasingly relying on the reviews they find to influence them in their decision-making process.  A recent poll showed that 92% of potential patients read online reviews of their healthcare provider prior to their appointment and 67% state they were influenced by these reviews.

It is important that, as a physician, you are proactive in ensuring that there are positive reviews on the top physician review sites (Ratemds, Vitals and Healthgrades, to name a few) What can you do to make this happen?

Solicit positive feedback. Ask for reviews and make it easy. A few ideas on how to do that…

  1. A take-away sheet with sites and directions on how to leave a review. Train your staff to be on the lookout for happy patients in the office. When they find one, give them one of the sheets on their way out.
  2. An email with a link to the review site. Again, being aware of those patients that you know would be happy to help by taking 5 minutes to write a brief synopsis of their experience with you, your staff and/or your practice is key.
  3. Set up a computer in your lobby for patients to leave reviews there. Put up signage with instructions. Happy patients will gladly use the time spent in your waiting room to leave a few positive words.

Online reviews of you and your practice will also increase online visibility and strengthen overall SEO (search engine optimization). They show Google that your practice is relevant and deserves to be shown in local search results. This is one of several aspects of improving your SEO, but working to organically improve your place in search results through increasing online visibility will only help to increase your new patient acquisitions, help to solidify your referral network and make your practice stand out. The more your brand appears online, the more potential patients and referral sources recognize your name and reputation.

Of course, providing excellent care and service is the first step in getting positive online reviews. Remember, happy patients come back, tell their friends, family and/or their referring/primary care physician.  Make sure your office staff’s customer service is on point…frequently THEY are the ones that inspire positive reviews (or negative). And remember, the positive reviews that are posted online can also be used as testimonials on your website!

Lastly, be aware that negative reviews happen to even the best physicians and medical practices. You can’t please everyone, but you CAN focus on the happy patients. If you are a patient-centric practice focused on customer service, the positive experiences will far outweigh the negative ones. Monitor your reviews on the top sites. Respond to negative ones with concern, honesty and genuine kindness. Avoid arguing or discrediting.

Begin encouraging your satisfied patients to post testimonials and reviews about your practice. If you have considered utilizing a physician liaison to help build your referral network locally, make sure you have polished up your online presence BEFORE sending the representative out into the community. Referral marketing though in-person visits will greatly increase the amount of people that are Googling your name and practice, so you want to make sure that your track record of satisfying patients is prevalent online!