Most doctors understand that their reputation is an important and valuable marketing tool. When people have a good experience, they tell their friends and family, and, for decades, this is how the best doctors attracted the most patients. While word-of-mouth and direct referrals will always be important for dermatologists, over the past ten years it’s your online presence that has become the most important aspect of your reputation.
Between work and recreation, the average American spends over 6.5 hours online per day. It has become the ubiquitous background of our lives. For everything from ordering dinner to watching TV to researching how to get stains out of the carpet, the internet is where people turn to get the information they need as quickly as possible.
92% of internet users read online reviews when they are considering or researching services. 81% of patients use online reviews to help them choose their healthcare providers.
And it only takes about 1-6 reviews for 68% of those people to form their opinion of your practice! This means that you need to take conscious control of your online reputation. Remember, patient perception is patient reality. It doesn’t matter how good a dermatologist you are if you have a 2-star rating on Google because of a few bad reviews.
If that seems harsh, think about the last time you were deciding on a restaurant. Did you even consider the restaurants with a 3-star rating or lower? Probably not. And the stakes for that decision were much lower than choosing a doctor!
That being said, we know it’s easier said than done. How can you take control of your practice’s online reputation and improve or build it from the ground up? Luckily, we’ve gathered our most effective strategies and tactics for reputation management for dermatologists in one convenient post!
Whether you’re starting from scratch with no online presence at all or you’re working to repair a negative reputation, these tips can help you manage your reputation efficiently and effectively.
#1 Locate and Take Ownership of Your Online Profiles
You can’t manage your profiles if you aren’t actively monitoring them. Find where you’re located online and make sure that your practice has ownership and admin rights to those profiles. This includes social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) and directory listings (Vitals, Healthgrades, Wellness, Doximity, ZocDoc, etc.). If you don’t have control over these profiles or have lost your logins, follow the appropriate steps to gain access.
Once you have access to all of your profiles–or have created them from scratch!–your next step is to ensure that all of your information is completely filled out and correct. Make sure all phone numbers, addresses, and doctor information are the same across all of your profiles because this is how search engines verify your validity. If you have contradictory information listed across multiple sites, the algorithms may push you further down in the results to prevent people from finding incorrect information.
Not sure where to start? Make sure you have these basic profiles filled out and then you can branch out further as you become more comfortable with the process:
- Google My Business
Many medical practices do not keep Instagram or YouTube profiles because they are more difficult to keep HIPAA compliant. They also don’t have review areas, so they’re considered less important when it comes to reputation management for dermatologists.
However, dermatology is a very visual practice area that many people find fascinating. You could get a lot of traction with before and after content, how-to tutorials, extraction videos, etc. Just make sure you have the patient’s written permission and that you do not tag them or use their names in any of your content.
#2 Ask for Feedback
This is an important step no matter how many reviews you currently have. If you’re starting from zero, you’d ideally like to garner as many positive reviews as possible to establish your practice’s reputation. And if you have a few negative reviews, asking for feedback can help bury old content. Just remember, the fewer reviews you have, the more impact each review has on your ranking.
For instance, if you have 5 reviews and one of them is 1-star, suddenly you have a 3-star rating. But if you have 100 reviews and one of them is 1-star, you still have a 4.9-star ranking. Soliciting reviews gives a broader and more accurate depiction of your practice and your abilities as a dermatologist.
Unfortunately, people are much more likely to go to the trouble of writing reviews when they have a negative experience. This can easily throw the balance off and give your practice an undeserved reputation. That’s why you have to actively cultivate positive reviews and make them a part of your patient experience. Try using some of these tactics to get more positive reviews:
Set Up Email Tracks
Send follow-up emails after appointments and procedures to check in on your patients. The first email should be sent the same day and focus on their wellbeing with follow-up information, care instructions, etc.
The second email should be focused on their experience. Let them know that their feedback is important to you and that you’re always looking to improve. Ask if they had a good experience and make sure that there are two options (“yes” or “no”) from which to choose.
The bad experience button or link should direct them to your office where they can speak with someone about their experience directly. The good experience link should direct them to Google or Facebook where they can leave a good review!
Most bad reviews are left by people who feel neglected or unheard. This is a way to address their experiences and fix the problem before they feel the need to call you out online.
Turn Good Reviews into Brand Advocates
Another good source of positive reputation material is the patients who have already had a good experience with your practice. When someone leaves a good review on Google or tags your business in a Facebook post, respond by thanking them profusely. Knowing you’ve taken the time to write back, will make them feel appreciated and encourage them to continue to share their good experience with their friends, family, and neighbors.
#3 Respond to All Reviews–Positive and Negative
Another huge part of reputation management for dermatologists is responding to all reviews. Responding to positive reviews improves engagement and encourages other people to leave positive reviews for the reward of interaction. Responding also makes your brand seem involved and proactive, which is very comforting in a healthcare professional.
Responding to negative reviews allows you to nip some of their negative influence in the bud. When handled correctly, you can use negative reviews as an opportunity to showcase your practice’s transparency, commitment to patient experience, and proactive approach.
Responding to Positive Reviews
When you’re responding to positive reviews, make sure you thank the person for their time. You can also use this moment as an opportunity to win over future patients who read your review while considering whether or not they should call you up.
Responding to Negative Reviews
Responding to negative reviews is a little more delicate. The first thing to remember is that this is not the moment to be defensive or tell your side of the story.
First of all, it violates HIPAA compliance to release any patient information or confirm that this patient did in fact receive care from your practice.
Secondly, getting in a flame-off online is a bad look for your brand that confirms the negative reviewer’s perception (and everyone else’s) about your practice.
It’s also important to remember that most negative reviews are left by patients that feel neglected or unheard in some way. You can often solve this by acknowledging their feelings and offering to make amends. Many people are happy to delete negative reviews after you’ve resolved the issue.
Try something neutral and empathetic, like:
“We’re so sorry to hear about your negative experience. We want to ensure that every patient is treated with the highest standards of care and compassion. Please contact us directly so we can make this right.”
Take the conversation offline, protect their privacy, and showcase your practice’s transparency and humility.
You should also be using negative reviews as an opportunity for growth. If you’re seeing a pattern in the complaints about a specific doctor, service, or experience, use that as a sign to change what’s causing problems. Preventing negative experiences in the first place is the easiest way to combat negative reviews.
How To Grow Your Reputation While Remaining HIPAA Compliant
Remember that whether you’re responding to patient comments on social media, answering reviews, or putting out new content, your first priority should be HIPAA compliant. Never give away patient information or confirm that a patient had a procedure done in your office without explicit written permission. Even then, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Make sure any pictures and responses are free of identifying information. HIPAA violations come with fines, investigations, and–in extreme cases–loss of licensure. So tread lightly.
Attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform Demo
Whether you’re just getting started or you’re cleaning up your existing reputation, Surefire Local can help! Our platform makes reputation management for dermatologists easy and efficient. Send requests for feedback, automate follow-up reminders, and respond to reviews all from one easy platform! Or run brand sentiment analysis to find out how your patients truly feel about your practice. Contact us today to schedule a free demonstration of our all-in-one reputation management platform!