Reputation management for doctors is a necessity for all medical practices. Review sites like Yelp and Healthgrades have become a source of daily stress for doctors, especially in larger and multi-location practices.
Daily interactions with customers that used to be stress free now have the potential to become an ongoing online nightmare. It only takes one upset patient, or even “potential” patient, to jump on their online soap box and destroy a doctor’s reputation, along with the entire medical practice’s reputation.
If that doesn’t stress you out enough, you finally get a happy patient to leave a raving review but the Yelp filter grabs it, still leaving you with just those bad reviews on your public profile.
We just can’t win, right?
Unfortunately, most doctors and medical practices we speak with feel this way.
They feel like online reviews are outside their control and it’s easier to just ignore them. This sentiment isn’t a solution to the potential reputation problem a doctor will have to face at some point, and it’s the main reason why every medical practice needs to consider deploying a reputation system to ease their concerns and protect their business from the few unhappy patients they’ll have this year.
If you’re the doctor, owner, or manager of a medical practice and you’ve pulled your hair out over review sites like Yelp, then I encourage you to read on. We’ll uncover the 2 biggest reputation management mistakes that most doctors and medical practices need to avoid. We’ll also provide you with a solution to make sure you never make these mistakes again. The end goal is to turn your reputation problem into an asset that allows you to dominate your local market.
Reputation Management for Doctors
The 2 (BIG) Reputation Management Mistakes All Physicians and Medical Practices Need to Avoid
When it comes to dealing with the reputation of doctors and medical practices, most medical offices make one, or both, of these two BIG mistakes and many are still making these mistakes today.
As we go through these mistakes, try to identify where you’re at and how you can improve your current situation. Let’s get started:
Mistake #1: Denial – “These Review Sites Don’t Matter”
Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss. That’s not the case when it comes to the online reputation of any small business, especially medical practices.
Most doctors and dentists are obviously concerned about what’s being said about them online, as they should be. But the majority of medical practices completely ignore review sites. They either feel like they can’t control who leaves them a review or they aren’t sure how to use it in their favor.
So, most shut down and just completely ignore their reviews, especially if they already have a few bad reviews. Sometimes the least painful thing to do after receiving negative feedback is to pretend like it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, this is very bad practice, online. What goes online, stays online.
The bad reviews aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Especially if you ignore them.
Here’s one example of a medical practice that had patients calling in to cancel appointments because of bad reviews. You shouldn’t let your reputation get this out of hand.
Avoidance only leads to more lost business.
Here’s a dental group that has completely lost control of their reputation. As if EIGHT 1-Star Reviews on Yelp wasn’t bad enough, someone actually uploaded an image of a dentist with a drill in the patients mouth.
This isn’t a joke. This dental practice is real. And so is their terrible reputation.
Think review sites don’t matter? No body looks at them anyway, right?
Ignoring a single negative review can cost your medical practice dozens of patients each year. Consumers are reading reviews before choosing a doctor and 37% of patients in a recent study said they’ve avoided physicians based on bad reviews.
Unless you like losing the opportunity to serve more than 1/3 of all potential patients that find you online, you’re going to have to deal with your critics at some point. Rip off the band-aid and take care of it before potential customers start seeing it.
Pro Tip: Yelp, Google My Business, and many other platforms give you a dashboards with insights about how many people viewed and contacted your practice.
Mistake # 2: Fake it – “No One Will Know”
One bad review is enough to spook a doctor, owner, or manager into action and do anything possible to improve their online reputation.
The bad news is that legitimate review sites don’t let doctors remove their bad reviews. So, the path of least resistance is usually to start asking friends, family, and even employees to “boost” your reputation with some positive reviews. Don’t Do This!
Friends and Family Approach
Here’s what usually happens when you ask friends and family to leave you “happy” reviews. Suddenly, your listing on the review site gets a few 5 star reviews in a very short period of time. Even if the review came from a family member or friend that is a real patient, the “feeling” of the review is that it didn’t come from a real, impartial patient.
You’ll think it’s not obvious, but it’s very obvious. Especially to the review sites who see this on a daily basis. Here’s an example:
Valeria read the bad reviews but took action anyway (she likes to live dangerously) and she had a fantastic time. Despite being so judgemental (self-proclaimed), she only has one review. This one.
Yelp is a breeding ground for the judgmental in society to bash businesses but she’s only written one review.
A positive one.
For this dental office.
See where we’re going here? This is why reviews like these get stuck in the dreaded “filter” and why said filter even exists.
Bribing for Happiness
Another unnatural attempt to boost positive reviews is to bribe patients into leaving a good review. Reputation management for doctors shouldn’t include bribing patients.
Bribes usually include free or discounted treatments and procedures. These reviews never result in good-quality reviews because the patient isn’t sharing their experience because it was “great”, they’re writing anything positive so they can get their free gift, resulting in boring reviews that aren’t genuine.
Great Reviews from Fake Patients
Medical practices that get truly desperate eventually consider creating fake reviews. Basically, you hire a company to post 5 star reviews that don’t come from real patients. Some doctors do it themselves or have their assistants or office managers do it for them.
Have you considered creating fake reviews for your practice? In addition to it being completely unethical (minor details), you should know that New York’s attorney general cracked down on business’s trying to cheat the system. Do you have a spare $350,000. No? Then don’t create fake reviews.
Reputation Management Done the Right Way
The Secret Reputation Management System That Works 100% of the Time:
- Ask for Feedback
- Embrace Feedback
- Improve Your Practice
When it comes to reputation management for doctors, review sites like Yelp and Google have a ton of upside IF you’re willing to invest in using it to your advantage.
When used properly, review sites will help market and grow your business… for FREE. Yep free – you don’t even have to pay for advertising.
Review sites were created to help consumers choose the best doctors, dentists, and other business professionals in their local area. Thanks to these sites, if you’re truly the best doctor in your local area then you’re going to have a lot of new patients calling your office. That’s a fact.
The question is, how do you become the best doctor in your local area?
Online, the “best doctor” is the one with the MOST 5 Star reviews from real, happy patients.
As long as there have been doctors, the #1 driver of new patients for any medical practice is referrals from other happy patients. Well, in the past few years, review sites have become just as powerful as personal referrals. This was proven in a 2014 survey by BrightLocal:
“88% of consumers said they now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations”.
That’s up nearly 10 points from 79% in 2013. This trend won’t be going backward any time soon which means the doctor’s that embrace and unleash the potential of review sites will be the doctor’s that dominate their local markets online.
Embrace your reputation and reviews, and start using them to your advantage.
Not sure how to get started with embracing online reviews? Contact us about our Reputation Marketing package that will start generating positive feedback for your practice in just a few days.