The Basics of Protecting Your Online Reputation as a Surgeon

September 30, 2015


The Basics Of Reputation Management

87% of people use the internet for research before making a purchasing decision. People who are looking for an orthopedic surgeon can do a quick search on Google and within seconds will have pages of results, all with reviews posted by current or past patients.

And people trust online reviews. In fact, 79% of people place equal weight on online reviews as they do a personal recommendation from a friend.

Like it or not, content published online about physicians matters, and defamatory content in the form of doctor reviews on websites such as RateMDs, Healthgrades, Yelp, and others can have a detrimental effect on the success of their practice. It is critical for providers to keep tabs on what their patients are saying about them online, take steps to suppress unflattering, publicly visible reviews, and then invest in a plan that reinforces positive concepts and shapes the conversation in a more positive light. Simply put, that is what “reputation management” does. Savvy orthopedic surgeons in today’s market are using reputation management to not only combat negative reviews but as a marketing tool to drive new business.

Online Reputation ManagementThere is a wide range of tactics that providers can use to control their online reputation. The tactics that work for physician reviews on consumer-generated websites like Yelp are different from those used to combat information published by media organizations (such as the ProPublica Score Card). The reality is, reputation management is not a simple thing that you ‘fix’ and then ‘forget’. It’s an ongoing process that requires careful thought strategy.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone — it’s not like they teach this stuff in medical school. Here are some of the basics to get you started:

Create, Promote, and Update Your Website

Having a professional website is a must. Today, doing so is easier than ever. There are many tools and services available that allow a business to create and maintain a high-quality website, all without breaking the bank. This is the first step to establishing a proactive strategy online.

Post Positive Comments and Patient Testimonials

For each negative comment posted on sites like Yelp, surgeons have 20 patients who are showering them with praises. It’s just that the praise comes in the form of handwritten letters, which doesn’t do much for your online rep. Unless you put them online — which is exactly what you should do. Obtain consent from your patients, and then put those testimonials on your website. Have a plan in place for doing this on a regular basis. Consistency is key when it comes to posting content. So don’t be lazy about it. If you are using CODE Technology, do yourself a favor and contact your CODE rep — we have a method that streamlines posting patients’ positive comments directly to your website.

Monitor the Web

Google yourself and your organization weekly, and set up Google alerts so you are notified when your name is mentioned online. Awareness of negative reviews is key. You should not only monitor yourself but your competitors as well. For a quick reference, here’s a link to Google Search For Yelp Reviews in your area. How you respond to them is a whole separate blog post, but for now, understanding your baseline and what’s currently on the web will help determine how aggressive of a game plan you need to get the situation under control.

The end goal is to develop a comprehensive ongoing strategy for managing online reputation, which is easier said than done, especially for a busy orthopedic surgeon.

Risk ManagementSo if you are feeling a bit worried about your online reputation, or lack thereof, fear not. If you take the right action in the treatment of the issues that exist, you can likely come out healthier than before. If you don’t want to spend the time and energy doing this on your own, there are plenty of companies out there that can help (us included). Here is a tip — before hiring a firm to help with your reputation management, make sure that they have experience working with healthcare providers. It’s a completely different ball game, full of rules and regulations that do not exist in other industries.

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