Who Needs Healthcare Reputation Management?
The short answer is any hospital, clinic, doctor, dentist, optometrist, or healthcare specialist with one or more disparaging comments or reviews online. If you work for one of these entities and are not sure if you have any negative results, it might be wise to have a healthcare reputation management audit done to determine what, if any, negative results exist. Small practices, in particular, underestimate the impact that negative online commentary can have on revenue streams. This is essentially a hidden opportunity cost, and potentially an enormous one. There is no way to determine the number of patients who have seen disparaging comments online and chosen a different care provider instead. A 2019 study indicates that 80% of new patients consult online reviews and articles when considering a new medical professional. A single terrible review with the wrong exposure can have a massive impact on medical practice. The true effect of that one bad review can be hidden since the practice involved has no way of tracking the number of people who read it or make decisions based on it.
What is Healthcare Reputation Management?
Essentially, there are two parts to medical reputation management: Online reviews on rating and review sites/apps, and negative posts in the Google search engine results. Both reputation management strategies employ the same underlying principle, however, of burying any negative result in a positive commentary. One, however, can typically be accomplished in-house or with very little outside help. The other typically requires you to get assistance from web development and search engine optimization specialists. Let’s take a look at how you can change your online reputation by emphasizing the positive.
How to Handle Negative Ratings on Review Sites/Apps
Even the most outstanding medical professionals find themselves with negative results online. The truth is, even the best medical professionals do not have control over every patient outcome. Patients and their families are often disappointed or frustrated or hurt even if the medical professional has done everything correctly. Most prospective new patients understand this. Having a couple of bad reviews mixed in with hundreds of positive ones will not dissuade the average online search her from choosing your practice. The first key is to get as many positive reviews as possible to counterbalance any negative ones. Two hundred rave reviews, for instance, can give you a 4.9 rating even with two terrible reviews. The good press can also make it virtually impossible for searchers to find any negative comments about your practice. Your staff should make a habit of soliciting reviews from patients that you know are pleased with your services. They should go so far as to include a link to the sites/apps you want them to use. Getting lots of good reviews is the key to maintaining your ratings. When you do get positive feedback, it is important to reinforce positive feedback by thanking the patient online. The more engagement individual reviews have, the more prominent those specific reviews are typically displayed.
Inevitably, medical practices will still get the occasional bad review. Of course, you want it to disappear. Tring to prove the complainer wrong online is a common knee-jerk response, but absolutely the wrong approach. The first line of defense is to try and resolve the issue for the patient. As President Lincoln once noted, the best way to defeat your enemy is to make them your friend. It is best to try and convert the unhappy patient into a fan. This should not take place online, however. The best response to a poor review is to let the reviewer know that they are heard and ask them to contact you at a specific email address to try and resolve the problem off-line. This can reinforce the perception online that you are responsive and responsible.
If the issue is satisfactorily resolved, the best thing to do is ask the reviewer to make a note of that review. Any disparaging commentary with a patient follow-up that says “thanks for resolving the issue” can be powerful testimony indeed.
The most important thing is not to engage a specific negative review over and over online. Each comment added to the comment thread reinforces the bad feedback and lead to more prominent exposure on review sites/apps. It is imperative that you not add fuel to the fire with repeated comments. Like and comment on good feedback. Make a single attempt to resolve the online issue if plausible. If you can’t convert the complainer into a fan, ignore it and wait for the negative commentary to die a lonely death online.
How to Handle Complaints in the Google Search Results
Perhaps even more damaging is negative commentary in the search engine results. They don’t simply fade away as a negative rating on a review site/app. This often occurs when a disgruntled patient posts complaints on websites such as ripoffreport.com or pissedconsumer.com. Occasionally angry patients will post negative comments on a page they own themselves. In any event, when people search for your practice by name, they may be confronted with lengthy and scathing critiques. This can be devastating to practices both large and small because these disparaging comments occur in isolation. There is typically a little opportunity for feedback from the medical practitioner, and no positive feedback on these websites to provide a more balanced perspective.
In essence, the underlying strategy to dealing with negative search results is very similar to the approach for review sites/apps: overwhelm the negative with the positive. In this case, the goal is to move any disparaging comments in the Google search engine results to position 11 or lower. Studies say that less than 10% of all searches are carried onto the second page of Google search results. Hence, if you can make the top ten results for any search about your medical practice positive, 90% of all people searching you will never even encounter the negative result. It will be as if it never existed for 90% of your prospective clientele. For the small percentage that does encounter this result, their perception will already be pretty well informed by the positive things they’ve encountered in the first ten results.
So how do you make this happen? Unfortunately, it’s actually quite difficult. The first thing to do is to identify any keywords where the disparaging commentary may be showing up in the first ten Google search results. Your medical practice needs to have ten properties which you can rank better for each of those keywords than the negative result(s). That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have ten websites, as social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn can often be used to capture Google results. It almost inevitably means you need multiple websites you can control and optimize, however.
This approach to healthcare reputation management requires strong web design skills and even stronger search engine optimization skills. Websites like Rip-Off Report have relatively strong authority with Google and are not easy to displace. Few if any medical practices have the technical expertise to even attempt a project such as this. This is where we can help. We specialize in creating positive sites and optimizing them to rank on the first page for the keywords you need to win. You need to control the messaging on your medical practice’s brand. With our help, you can. We would love to discuss the specifics of your healthcare reputation management project with you. For a free consultation please call us at 1-877-704-6630 .