On-line reputations have become a large part of our current society. You can find reviews on everything on-line from restaurants to hotels to even my local Adult Detention Facility. So it is no surprise that a physician’s on-line reputation is important. While a recent study demonstrated that you should not Yelp your doctor, that does not stop patients from doing so. On top of that, sites like Facebook have collected information on me since 2004. What I posted 13 years ago does not represent me or anymore. A few easily searchable screw-ups and your on-line reputation is shot.
I personally am very hesitant with what I put on the web. I have asked family to not want tag me on any pictures. The same applies to my own personal on-line accounts. In fact, I deleted all my on-line social accounts once I finished training and then restarted them. To me, no information is better than bad or easily misinterpreted information.
For docs who have not maintained a low profile on the web, there are now companies that clear your on-line reputation. Today’s guest post is by one such company named EverTrust MD. I think they provide some useful information about why a bad reputation is not necessarily your fault. When they reached out to me it made sense that there services are now necessary for some people in our fields. So I was curious to hear more, so hear you go. As of October 7th, 2017 I have no financial affiliation with EverTrust MD.
Doctors: Your online reputation is a bigger problem than you think
In the past, patients relied on family and friends for doctor recommendations. However, nowadays people’s lives are so technology focused, that a quick Google search will bring all the info they need on you and your practice. If you don’t think the vast majority of your patients, colleagues, and acquaintances research your name online, you haven’t caught up to the digital world.
With nearly 72% of your patients searching your name online, your online reputation matters now more than ever. Is that for better or for worse?
Usually, it’s for worse. Here’s why.
Unfortunately, satisfied and happy patients usually aren’t motivated enough to leave you an online review. Why would they bother going through the headache of doing so? However, if a patient feels their experience has been negative, they won’t hesitate for a second to go online and leave you a scathing review. For this reason, no matter how good of a job you do, your online reputation will almost always lean towards the negative side.
Why is this a problem? Because prospective patients are very quickly swayed by what they read on the internet. Negative reviews can seriously impact the number of patients you have walking through your doors. Even one or two less than perfect reviews can see prospective patients voting with their feet. And this may come as a huge surprise, but no doctor I’ve met wants a blank appointment schedule and a deserted practice, which are common causes of low morale and burnout in our profession.
(Ed. I often feel that when it comes to patient satisfaction survey, providers deserve 1 Mulligan (i.e. second chance) per month. If there is a bad interaction, it is not always the providers fault and the provider should be able to recall that review).
Should you blame yourself for these negative reviews?
Not exactly. According to EverTrust MD, “Most negative reviews have almost nothing to do with the physician’s diagnosis or treatment. Most negative reviews reflect the patient’s frustration with a variety of issues, but very rarely is it something that the doctor had direct control over.” Considering that EverTrust MD has helped hundreds of doctors fix their online reputation, this is a pretty good sign that most of the time, a negative review is probably not your direct fault.
Here’s another reason not to beat yourself up too much. Aside from the selection bias mentioned earlier, physicians work long hours in particularly stressful environments. You’re tasked with a variety of patients and problems. The constant pressure in high-stakes situations makes it unlikely that each and every patient is to come away from your office full of joy.
An extremely crucial problem.
That being said, your online reputation is still extremely crucial to not only your current practice but to your long-term career as well. If prospective patients see less than glowing results about you online, they will quickly click away to search for a new doctor. How much is each patient worth to you? Now multiply that by 5, 10, or even 50. Chances are, your colleagues and acquaintances research your name online. What will they think of you? Your online reputation builds patient trust, establishes your credibility, generates appointments, fills up your schedule, and progresses your career in countless ways. If you don’t have the most positive online reputation possible, you are literally robbing yourself every single day.
Ed. What do you guys think? Any experiences with negative on-line reviews of your practice? How did you handle it?