Not to make you paranoid or anything but people are totally talking about you.

They are talking about your brand, your bedside manner and your surgical skills, whether you like it or not. (And by talking, I mean posting on social media or various review sites like Yelp and Healthgrades.) Such user-generated content is the Holy Grail of social networking and it can make or break your reputation.

If you’re not listening to what they are saying, you are putting your professional reputation at risk.

Make sure you see all of your online reviews.

This can be done by investing in an automated tool, setting “Google alerts” so that you get notified anytime anyone mentions your name or your practice’s name online or typing your name into the search prompt on each key site.

If you see something, do something.

Rather than avoiding negative reviews or pretending they don’t exist, take a proactive approach. No one wants to read or hear anything negative about themselves, and it’s very easy to get angry or defensive…Don’t. Take a deep breath and let the comments marinate in your mind before reacting, but don’t take too long.

When a negative comment is received, meet it head on.

If you know who wrote the negative review, reach out offline. Let them know how sorry you are that their experience was less than stellar and that you’re taking steps to correct whatever issue they raised. Let them know that you value the feedback. Sometimes, this acknowledgement is enough to get them to take the negative review down on their own.

If you don’t know who wrote the review, reply asking them to please call the office to discuss their experience at their earliest convenience. DON’T acknowledge, whether directly or indirectly, any doctor-patient relationship in an online forum. That could be a HIPAA violation.

There are cases when the reviews are clearly defamatory and violate the terms of service on review sites. It could be a competitor, a disgruntled employee or even a patient who you chose not to treat. In these cases, your best bet is to contact the review site and ask then to take it down because the content violates the terms of service.

Get Ahead of the Game

Common complaints on rating sites often center on long waiting times, a rushed staff, the doctor didn’t spend enough time, the feeling that the practice was too busy, and bedside manner. A good defense is a strong offense so make sure that these aspects of your practice are up to snuff. When you find content that addresses a genuine shortcoming in your practice, use it as an opportunity to improve.

Need some help cultivating your online review strategy? Reach out to us Anne@wendylewisco.com