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The Importance of an Online Reputation for Doctors

How to manage your online reputation to benefit your practice
Read Time: 6 minutes
Jul 12, 2021

For better or worse, the internet plays a huge role in every part of our lives. The world of healthcare isn’t an exception. Patients research everything to do with their health online, from symptoms and medications to their doctors. Before visiting a new doctor, potential patients will research their options ahead of time.

Why Is an Online Reputation So Important for Doctors?

a doctor wearing a white lab coat in discussion with a patient

Having an online presence is vital to a doctor’s practice because it’s often how patients find you in the first place. However, just being online isn’t enough. Managing your reputation online is essential to promoting your practice. Patients don’t just look online to see if a doctor has a website. They use the internet to read reviews of prospective doctors and see what other patients thought ahead of time. Up to 84% of patients research medical professionals before they ever set foot in the doctor’s office.

Patients are much more likely to visit a doctor with a good online reputation. On top of that, they’re more likely to spend more money to do so. Doctors with good online reputations may have patients seeking care with them even if they’re out-of-network.

How To Improve Your Reputation Online

The first step in improving your online reputation is to check its current status. You can start by searching for your practice’s name in search engines like Google and Bing. Look to see what sort of links are popping up in the search results. Do they reflect favorably on your practice?

Then, look more closely at review websites, such as ZocDocs, WebMD, Yelp, or Healthgrades to see what patients have been saying about you. You should also check the reviews on Bing and Google.

Ask patients for reviews

You can ask your patients for reviews via email after their visit. This doesn’t hurt your reputation and can result in a lot of positive reviews. However, you should only seek out real reviews. It can be tempting to post fake reviews, but review sites screen for these and will flag your account for having fraudulent reviews, which would negatively impact your reputation even more than a bad review.

Respond to reviews

It’s a good idea to respond to reviews, both positive and negative. You can thank positive reviewers for their feedback. For negative reviews, you can respond as long as you’re careful not to violate the patient’s confidentiality. You should also be courteous and professional. Responding in the right way to a negative review can help to cancel out any negative effects on your online reputation.

How Should You Address Negative Reviews?

You should first try to put yourself into the shoes of the patient that left the negative review. Taking the opportunity to improve your practice and eliminate the source of the negative feedback can help to prevent such reviews in the first place. You can also respond to the negative review by apologizing for the patient’s experience and asking them to contact your practice to address their concerns. You shouldn’t reveal your side of the story in your response because that could violate confidentiality laws.

Set up Google Alerts

You can set up Google to alert you via email whenever your practice or your name is mentioned by someone online. This will help you stay proactive about any changes, good or bad, to your online reputation.

How to Set Up Google Alerts

To create a Google alert, go to https://www.google.com/alerts and enter the name of your practice. Google may offer you suggestions based on your Google account, such as your name or email address. You can set up as many alerts as you like, so you can select your name and also specify your full practice name. You’ll want to make sure you’re signed in to your Google account because that’s the email address Google will use to send the email alerts to you.

Claim your online business listings

When you search for a business by name, Google provides a profile of the business. If the business owner hasn’t claimed the business, Google will draw information about the business from online directories. Claiming your business will allow you to control the information that Google displays about your practice. If your business doesn’t have an automatically-created Google business listing, it’s a good idea to create one so that patients can more easily find you.

How to Claim Your Online Google Business Listing

To claim your practice with Google, log in to your Google account and go to Google My Business at https://www.google.com/business/. Click the Manage Now button and enter the name of your practice. If it’s not already there, Google will prompt you to add your business profile to its listings. If it is, you can search for your practice and then follow Google’s instructions to verify that you are the owner of the business. This is often done by having a postcard sent to your location with a verification code. Then, you can update your business profile to make it easier for patients to find you.

Directories in Which to Claim Your Business

Google isn’t the only online business listing. In fact, because Google gets its information from online directories, it’s a good idea to claim your business in as many places as possible.

The following are online directories of medical professionals and practices:

Every Patient Can Affect Your Reputation

The people leaving reviews about you and your practice online are patients. It’s important to remember that every patient you treat is also a potential reviewer. This means that you’ll need to make sure you’re leaving each patient with the reputation you would like for your practice. If you’d like to be known for your good bedside manner, you’ll need to make sure you have a good bedside manner with every patient. How you treat them during their visit is what they will report online.

Learn more about proper online reputation management by reviewing our list of medical practice directories.