No physician wants to learn that her front office staff was rude or that a patient found the doctor dismissive, unprofessional, or incompetent. And she surely doesn’t want to find out about it from an anonymous review that may live online in perpetuity.
Explore this issue:January 2018
In a world in which crowdsourcing has developed from asking a few friends which physicians they recommend to asking hundreds of friends on Facebook or seeing what thousands of strangers think on Healthgrades or Yelp, reputation can make or break a practice. The good news is that a reputation headed south can be pointed back in the right direction.
Collie Shaw, MD, a general otolaryngologist at Central Arkansas Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic in Conway, Ark., only just learned that there was something he could do about bad reviews. “I didn’t realize until recently that it was possible to respond to a review,” he said. “I think I was a bit behind the curve.”
Dr. Shaw came across a review from a patient who said he seemed rushed during her appointment, but he didn’t reply to it, because he realized it had been written six years ago. He did, however, take it to heart and take action. “If it’s specific, I assess what I’m doing,” he said, adding that he made a concentrated effort to slow down when seeing patients.
While improving bedside manner and other skills are important, they are not enough to maintain your reputation. Online reviews have become a growing concern, given the many different places people can leave comments about their experiences with you, said Laura Mikulski, vice president of business development and physician relations at Physician Referral Marketing, a healthcare marketing agency based in Ferndale, Mich., that handles reputation management for physicians. “There’s such a high capacity for people to leave reviews when they don’t feel they are heard or valued as a patient,” she added.
According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 77% of consumers use online reviews as the first step in finding a new physician. And, as the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Build and Keep Your Reputation
Reputation management firms recommend taking these steps to make sure your online reputation is as excellent as your clinical skills:
When you get a bad review, take a deep breath. Then, respond in a positive and constructive manner, thanking the reviewer for feedback. Apologize by saying you’re sorry he had a bad experience, and encourage him to call the office and speak with a specific person. “Listening is a critical skill in delivering good healthcare,” said Andrea Pearson, chief marketing officer at Healthgrades. After you make your reviewers feel heard, let them know you take their input seriously, keep your response positive and constructive, and reiterate the qualities that make your practice great. This holds true for every review, whether it’s bad, mediocre, or glowing.