“I read great things about you on Yelp” is something that a chef at a restaurant would normally hear. Unfortunately, this phrase is becoming more and more common in the medical setting. And although most physicians would cringe when hearing that phrase, a recent survey of 1700 adults showed that 63% of respondents would choose to see a physician with a stronger online presence. This trend will only continue to increase and as doctors, we need to respond to this change. Being able to take control and appropriately represent your professional profile and accomplishments online will prevent others filling that void and inadvertently making one for you.
Whether you are just starting out in developing your professional image online or are just looking to fine tune it, this guide will provide 3 main avenues you should consider to ensure you are presenting yourself professionally to your current and future patients.
This is the most important step in ensuring that you are properly represented online. The website serves as your online portal; it is where patients should be able to see your qualifications, schedule an appointment, or pay their bill. The website requires minimal upkeep, but significant time investment up front. If you already have a website, but it feels outdated and hard to navigate, invest in updating it. Remember, your professionalism now starts online.
What makes a good site?
Ensure your website is mobile friendly as more and more internet traffic is moving to mobile platforms. A simple test is to use your cell phone and access your site. Is it intuitive? Check your mobile platform several times a year to ensure consistent performance.
Ensure that you own multiple domain names with small variations that all point to your website. For example, if your website is dermguruatlanta.com, buy the rights to atlantaguruderm.com and other variations of the that name. That way, if prospective patients search for your business and type in the incorrect name, they will still be redirected to your website.
As of 2019, approximately 213 million people in the United States use some form of social media such Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Nearly 81 million of these users are 45 years and older, and 21 million are 65 years and older. Needless to say, a large chunk of the population is on social media and creating a presence there can aid in promoting your practice.
The concept of creating an Instagram or Facebook page is daunting at first, but with a good plan, it is easier than you think.
How do I use a social media account relevant to my practice?
Know your audience. Are you attracting primarily younger cosmetic patients? In this case, Instagram and posts related to skin care and various cosmetics is more relevant. Are you an expert in psoriasis? Posting information related to new therapies may be beneficial.
Recent data suggests that nearly 90% of all reviews are positive. However, most people that have a positive experience do not necessarily rate their experiences while those that had a negative experience are more likely to post a negative review. What ends up happening is a skewed representation of physicians where sometimes only negative reviews are seen. Remember that negative reviews will happen, but the way you manage them will decrease their impact on your practice.
Not all negative reviews are wrong. Sometimes, they serve to point out inefficiencies in patient check in, check out, or follow up that you may not be aware of. Other reviews, however, may have unrealistic expectations. Regardless of the cause, the only way to effectively decrease the number of negative reviews is to ensure that you are capturing as many positive reviews as possible. This serves to “drown out” the negative reviews.
How to respond to a negative review:
HIPAA applies to your online responses. A specific response to a negative review that potentially identifies the poster as your patient can be a HIPAA violation.
Create a neutral response phrase that you can use as a standard response to such reviews. Provide a way for the reviewer to reach your office by either posting a phone number or email along with the phrase. If the reviewer reaches out and a resolution is reached, request to see if the reviewer can edit their original post.
If the negative review has nothing to do with your practice, you can attempt to reach out to the company hosting the reviews in a HIPAA compliant manner to see if a resolution can be reached.
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