A negative review posted online can feel like a knife in the back. The angst is amplified when you suspect the review was posted by a former employee or a competitor. With HIPAA and PIPEDA limiting how health care providers can manage their reputations online it is easy to feel helpless and hopeless. But there are positive, proactive ways to protect your reputation online and signs that the future of online ratings and reviews will be more fair and balanced.
In this third part of our Online Horizons series, we explore trends in online reputation management and ways to protect your good name, and that of your practice.
Looking into the future, we predict the following evolution in online ratings and reviews for doctors:
- One or more sites where you can truly trust the authenticity of the reviews will be launched
(check out http://whit.li for one of the first in this class).
- A fair and balanced process will emerge that empowers medical professionals to respond to legitimate criticism and suppress fraudulent attacks.
- Privacy obstacles associated with HIPAA and PIPEDA will be overcome.
Until this online reputation Utopia emerges, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. In this video we focus on three tactics that can make managing your reputation, well, more manageable.
Get Involved in the Reputation Conversation
There is very little you can do to protect your reputation with your head buried in the sand. Active monitoring can ensure that you are the first to hear when something is posted about you or your practice. While there are a great many paid services that will monitor your reviews, we recommend using Google’s free Alerts service. At the same time, begin to invite your patients to share their experiences online. Watch the video for several ways to make cultivating reviews easier for you and your patients.
Get Ahead of Online Outbursts
One of the best ways to protect your reputation online is to deal with patients’ concerns offline. Great service and impeccable outcomes certainly go a long way, but we all know that even the best of us have a bad day or make an occasional mistake. By inviting feedback and remaining open to criticism, you can address patient concerns personally before they are broadcast online. Take a close look at your operations and identify ways to implement patient feedback loops. Your approach may be as simple as a personal invitation or inquiry or as complex as a formal online survey system.
Keep Your Cool
It is inevitable that you will receive a negative online review in the next 12 to 24 months if you haven’t already. When it happens, keep your cool. Respond calmly, objectively and ethically. If you have already received some positive reviews, don’t sweat the occasional negative review. Research shows that a balance of negative and positive reviews gives more credibility to the collection than if all your reviews were positive.
If you are hit with a negative review you can’t shrug off, plan a measured response. Investigate the online accusation, and if you have reason to dispute the posting, work first within the policy of the site where the review appears. If your early efforts fail, seek the advice of your attorney.
What’s your outlook on online reputation for doctors and clinics? Share your questions and perspectives on Etna Interactive’s Facebook Page.