Online reviews are for restaurants, hotels, and spas, not healthcare providers… right? Wrong! Most of your work as a healthcare provider is done face-to-face with your patients. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have an online reputation to think about. Before choosing a provider, more and more web-savvy patients are doing their research.
Think about it this way. If a potential patient—or maybe a facility looking to hire—searched for you online, what would they find? Take these steps to make sure the answer doesn’t include any unwanted surprises.
1. Google Yourself!That’s right—do a search for your full name and specialty and see what kind of results you get. First, are you listed on key directories and review sites like HealthGrades.com, ZocDoc, Vitals, Yelp, and others? And second, does what you see match up with the vision you have for yourself as a healthcare provider?
2. And Your Competitors, Too…When patients search for healthcare providers, they’re looking up (and sometimes directly comparing) qualifications and experience, facility information, as well as what other patients think. Make sure you understand what results are generated from a search for providers in your field. Looking up your competitors is a free way to see what they may be doing differently, and to find opportunities to expand your own presence online.
3. Stake Your Claim on Review SitesMany popular review sites allow you to “claim your profile” as a physician. Doing so enables you to respond to reviews and messages, and keep the information accurate and up-to-date, like your specialties, hours, and more. You’ll need to keep a log-in password and provide personal information like your NPI, license, and DEA numbers to verify your accounts. Claiming a profile on Yelp can get complicated (it requires a phone call, access code, and speedy turnaround), but consider that Yelp is the fastest-growing physician review site people use today.
4. Be Social (but Cautious)Do you want patients to be able to find you on Facebook? Social media can offer a friendly way for healthcare providers to connect with patients on a more personal level, sharing hobbies and interests. But make sure you feel comfortable with the fact that having a public profile on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social sites means patients and employers can see what you share. If you don’t feel comfortable having a profile that is searchable, adjust your privacy settings with care.
5. Be Proactive—Build a Personal WebsiteOne of the best ways to take control of your online reputation is to have a personal website. Your site is your online brand, which is especially helpful for providers who transition to new locations and assignments. Securing your own site helps put a face to your name, legitimizing you to patients while providing a web-friendly resume to healthcare facilities that are considering hiring you. Your site doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive to manage. Platforms such as Squarespace or Wix will get you started with simple, all-in-one platforms. There are also physician-specific sites such as iHealthSpot.
6. Talk to Your PatientsYour patients are your best resource for managing your reputation—online or otherwise. If you put quality care first and have great relationships with your patients, you likely won’t have to worry too much about negative online reviews. Encourage feedback during your interactions so you can understand how they truly feel, and make changes if there are opportunities to learn from them.
7. Remain Calm
Remember—you can’t control the internet! So don’t sweat a bad review if you see one. Most of your patients will probably never write a review, and there’s typically more that goes into someone’s choice for a healthcare provider than what they read online, like insurance coverage and location. (Plus, if someone is angry, it may not even be about you—some popular rating sites weigh a physician’s experience and patient wait-time equally.)
While you can’t control the internet, you can control your response. It can be hard to read negative online reviews about yourself but keep the focus on how you can provide quality care. If you choose to reply to a public review, don’t retaliate—keep your response positive and productive, and never disclose any private information about a patient.
For more tips on managing (or launching!) a successful career, contact VISTA. Or visit our job board to see new opportunities.